Since the Olympic Games in Rio came to a close just two weeks ago, the lives of hundreds of athletes have begun to return back to a sense of normalcy. They have returned home to lives with their friends and families and have taken a break from the extensive training which led up to the games the years prior. Consider the lives of Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman. Five incredibly talented gymnasts who are also just regular young women. Just like myself they obsess over ice cream and French fries (of course when they aren’t training), they adore Zac Efron and they cannot stop giggling at one another.
I often wonder how their lives will ever be able to return to a sense of normal. Even though they are back home reunited with family and friends, these five girls are now considered a part of history. The “Final Five” were invited to attend the Video Music Awards on Sunday night and walked the red carpet with some of the most popular people in the music industry. Laurie Hernandez has moved on to compete in the fall season of Dancing with the Stars among a variety of other celebrities. These girls have captured the hearts of everyone viewing the Olympics including famous people from all different areas of the entertainment world. From this point on their lives are forever different but I often think that it is for the better. These girls are role models, public figures and celebrities in an inspiring way.
Simone, Gabby, Laurie, Madison and Aly are not just faces of talent and dedication, they are an inspiration to many all around the world. They inspire young and aspiring gymnasts to achieve their dreams but they also inspire the un-athletic like myself to continue working hard and work toward goals even that once seemed out of reach. After watching a variety of interviews and reading many articles about these gymnasts and their plans post Rio, I found myself relating in a way I did not even know possible.
These girls have had a whirlwind of a year. They spent so much time training, not just this past year, but their entire lives, for the moment when their names were announced on the Rio Olympic Podium and a shining gold medal was delicately placed around their necks. Everything came down to that moment. And then, just like that, all the waiting was over. The future was just beginning for these girls and a new and extremely fulfilling chapter was awaiting them.
This past year was exactly that, a whirlwind, for me. I spent almost half of this past year waiting for a life-saving call and a life-changing moment. I may not have gotten a gold medal placed around my neck, but I received a golden opportunity. An opportunity to live the rest of my life like an open book. Just as I wonder about the lives of the Final Five, I wonder about my own. With a new school year beginning for me in a week I know the rest of my life is beginning along with that. I often wonder if I will ever feel a sense of normalcy that I felt prior to this experience.
I know now that normal is overrated. No one lives a normal life. Our experiences shape us and alter us into different versions of ourselves. I am always going to think back to the experiences I have been through during the last ten months and I know I am coming out of this whirlwind stronger than ever before. I believe that whether the situations we encounter are small or large, they shape us into new people with new ways of thinking. Whether it is moving away to school, earning a new job, overcoming a major obstacle or achieving a dream, these milestones redefine what we once knew as normal.
If this year has taught me anything it is that there is a great amount of beauty in the unknown. I’ve learned that you must embrace every second, for you never know what may come next. There is no determining what will happen tomorrow, in the next hour or even in the next five minutes. Since we do not know what lies ahead we must always cherish all the good moments and cherish the obstacles that we have overcome to achieve those moments of gold. Why worry about how a wonderful moment will affect the days ahead when one can just embrace the moment in its glory? The shining moments in life are the moments that propel us forward into our future. And although the future may be full of unknown and sometimes scary moments, those moments are often the most beautiful.