Shoot Your Shot
Like a lot of good things, sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Sometimes it takes not being able to do something to realize just how much you appreciated doing that thing.
I began college in the fall of 2013 and since then, have been on a wild rollercoaster ride of risk-taking accompanied by a lot of throwing myself outside of my comfort zone. It started with me attending a VERY small all-girls college in the Virginia countryside, 2000 miles away from home, to play D3 soccer. To me, college was the perfect chance to try new things and throw myself into new adventures. I figured if I’m going to go away for college, why not go all out? And that my friends, is how I ended up living about as far away from home as I could get in a place that looked as foreign to me as Mars. Suddenly, people had different accents, the large mountains looming over my hometown had morphed into waves of rolling hills which disappeared into a blue ridge on the horizon and not to mention the weather. My god, the weather. If you have ever been to Utah, you might have noticed the dry and crisp high desert air which contrasted greatly with the gnats and crazy humidity of central Virginia in August. And let me tell you, I found out very quickly that 30 degrees and 0% humidity feels A LOT different than 30 degrees and 80% humidity. I was so thoroughly chilled to the bone that winter that coming home to a foot of mountain snow felt like a delicious reprieve.
Fortunately I only had to endure the damp cold of the Virginia winter once. By the end of my freshman year I had decided that this place was not the place for me. Away from home for the first time I was forced to grapple with homesickness and the deepest depression that I, to this day, have ever felt. I knew that I needed to make a change and that it would include warm weather and a fresh start. Thus, I made the decision to transfer to Santa Clara University in California where I could pursue my engineering degree under the warm sun and palm trees. During this transition I knew I was ready to move on from soccer because I could feel that my passion for the sport had withered away irrevocably. However, I could sense that I was not quite ready to totally give up sports and still wanted to be on a team of some sort. This led me to take my second leap of faith: I decided I would give running track a try (and as I quickly found out, joining the track team meant I would also be joining the cross-country team, who knew?). I was totally shooting my shot in that second year of college by joining a D1 team for a sport I had never even done before. I do not come from a family of runners and so my decision to join the track and cross country team at Santa Clara came as quite the surprise to my family. I was running… for fun…? What a concept! They were supportive nonetheless. I suspected that I might be decent at running given my soccer background but I had no idea what running on a team would entail or what training would look like, what shoes to wear, or what GPS watches were. I simply wanted to make friends and I was willing to throw myself into the totally unknown world of running to make it happen.
If I could thank 19 year old Grayson for shooting her shot at such a young age, I would. After going through a tough year in Virginia she was resilient and with as much tenacity as before she put herself outside of her comfort zone yet again. These two experiences of shooting my shot were very formative for me, to say the least. I learned and grew more from that first 18 months of college than I had in possibly my entire high school career. I gained confidence in seeing that I was the captain of my own ship. I had the power to CHOOSE the direction that I wanted my life to go. I gained the power and the courage to understand that if something was making me unhappy I could change. I could even change things drastically if I needed to, which I did.
Fast forward to today and I still find that shooting my shot is a common theme amongst many of my greatest successes. I finished as a 2x NCAA All-American in the steeplechase. An event that, 3 years prior, I had decided to try on a whim just because it looked like an obstacle course and man, do I love a good obstacle course! After my first year of professional running, I found myself leaving a high profile elite running team so that I could try out trail running instead. Something I had never done much of before, so why’d I do it? It sounded like fun. It worked out pretty well too. Even my small business of creating and selling training logs + planners (buy one HERE!) was started because it sounded like a fun challenge to take on. The first year I barely broke even and cried more tears than I’d care to admit (sorry, Logan!). But I learned a great deal about business and marketing and it has since turned into a very respectable side hustle that is greatly humbling and fulfilling at the same time.
So, back to not realizing what you have until it’s gone. In 2020 I was not able to shoot my shot as much as years past. The unfortunate circumstances of the year lent themselves better to a hunkering down and weathering of the storm than a shooting of shots. But 2021 is almost here and with hope on the horizon I forecast more chances to throw myself outside of my comfort zone and try things just because they “sound like fun”. I hope that in 2021, pandemic permitting, I can reclaim some of the courage to shoot my shot that little Grayson learned so long ago. I hope that we can all take more risks and throw ourselves into the unknown just for the fun of it. Whether that means starting a new business, trying out a new sport, moving to a new city, or even just trying a new flavor of ice cream, stepping outside of our comfort zone can often be the explosive catalyst for adventure and success that we need. So grab your self-belief and your courage and get ready to jump into the unknown in 2021 and then hold on for the ride of a lifetime. The “Shoot-Your-Shot” roller coaster is a fun one to be on, I promise!