I am going to be a sophomore in the fall of 2022 and I don’t know what to do. I was in three sports for most of my life and I had the opportunity to run track at a small LAC (D3) despite not being super great at it. While I have loved the people I have met and the social life (team dinners/socials/activities) I hate when I am running most of the time. The coach doesn’t have much faith in me and I feel like they have already given up on me despite my chance to have three more years on the team. I dread practice and I dread meets and there is so much anxiety, but I also have been in track since I was in second grade. I am no longer doing the events that I had a passion for (hurdles) because my coach wants me to run 200/400/600 and I am probably the slowest on the team. I adore my teammates and as an introverted person it has been super great to have this built in community that brings me joy, but I almost feel like an imposter and outsider especially when it feels like my heart isn’t really in it. Track (and being an athlete) is a huge part of my identity and the college adjustment was really hard my freshmen year as I felt like I lost my sense of identity that I had in high school and I’m afraid that if I give up this last thing then I won’t have anything left to keep me tied to a sense of self. In high school I had a tough time with soccer at the beginning in freshmen year but I stuck with it and it ended up being amazing as it is my favorite sport, and I feel like that could happen for track too, but then again I don’t have the same love for track as I did soccer. I honestly don’t like running that much (just short sprints) and team sports in comparison to individual races/competitions are just far more enjoyable. I think if I quit track I would try out for a club ultimate frisbee team (I have played intramural and it is so much fun and reminds me of soccer) but I’m so worried I will regret quitting track. I feel like all the people in my hometown and relatives expect me to do great things (especially my amazing high school coaches who were the most supportive and loving people I have ever met) and I feel like quitting would be letting them down. And I do enjoy being active (I’m worried if I quit I will become unmotivated and depressed because being active really helps me relieve stress and I struggle with mental health). I can’t tell if this is my chance to try new things and explore or if its a test of perseverance and I really don’t want to make the wrong choice. When is it time to let go of something? Will it affect my grad school application if I’m not a D3 athlete anymore (or does it not help my resume at all?). I just don’t know what to do any advice would be helpful
When do you start doing what you feel is best for you?
Are you also worried about what happens to you if you DON’T quit track? Because feeling like this
is not a healthy way to spend the next three precious years of your life.
This whole post is screaming that you need to stop track, and no, grad schools don’t give a hoot about your sport. They will care much more if your grades start being affected by your anxiety and dread of a sport you don’t want to do anymore.
You stated you’re worried about the what if’s many times. It’s time to move on to your next identity. I’m very much reminded of that expression that says “What if I fall?” “Oh, but what if you fly?”
Is there another position available on the team, like manager, statistician, photographer? Then you could keep the social part of the team but not have to dread practice.
Otherwise, give it up. Don’t do things you hate doing or things you are only doing to make someone else happy.
You are at a great college, isn’t that great enough for them?
You are there to get an education - sports is secondary to that. In the choice between sports and education, education wins. In the choice between sports and mental health, mental health wins, hands down.
You are at a D3 college, so by way of sports, its not at the top. However, as a good LAC, it is at the top in education. So success at a D3 school is academic success.
Seriously - if you owe them anything at all, it’s to succeed at college.
I think that it is your chance to try new things, and that is what is great about attending a LAC - the ability to try new things. There are no mistakes, because and any choice you make can be changed.
My daughter thought that she would minor in dance at her LAC. Instead, she joined a dance team, and runs for fun. She will explore cross-country skiing this winter.
Nobody will know, and nobody will care.
Life is too short and college is wayyy too short to do things that make you unhappy.
Take care of yourself.
This is my view. It sounds quite clear that you are not going to end up making your living running. I do not quite know how anyone would make a living running, but however they would it is probably not your path going forward.
Running has helped you get where you are today. This does not mean that it needs to be how you get where you want to be tomorrow.
Getting a good education is the point. If you graduate with a good GPA, with a major that is a good fit for you, and with a major that will help you to move in the direction of a good career, then your family and friends will be proud of you.
One of my daughters attended a “small university” (Canada does not use the term “liberal arts college”, but has similar schools). I have become a big fan. She had small classes and got to know her professors. Knowing the professors helped her to get good internships. Getting good internships helped prepare her for what she is going now (working on her first job after graduation).
Does your school have soccer, at least at some level?
This also sounds interesting to me.
I think that your high school coaches would want you to find the path that is right for you. That does not need to include running.
Exactly. Do what is best for you. From your post it sounds like running track probably is not the thing that is best for you. Something else is.
Keep ahead in your class work, and find an activity that you want to do.
By the way, one daughter ran track in high school. She got injured and could not run any more. This was some sort of repeat / stress injury that basically went away as long as she did not run, but then came back if she did run. She ended up being the team’s photographer for a year. Then when she went to university she developed different interests. Developing different interests over time is very normal and healthy. She is doing really well now, but running is not part of it. I expect the same will be true for you in a few years.
This is such a hard decision.
My D had a similar choice but for her it was before going to school which was made the situation a little less complicated. She was down to 2 schools - one that would allow her to continue her sport and one where she would not. She ended up choosing to go with the school where she would give up her sport. It was hard and scary - it was definitely part of her identity growing up and all through high school. And she knew that it would help her meet people if she continued.
Now, that time has gone by she feels she definitely made the right decision. At times she misses it - but only during the season when she sees pictures of her friends who are still involved. She missed the sport, the competitions, but not the practices and planning her life around it. She LOVES that she has more freedom to explore other interests and do things with friends. When she hears about her friends practice schedules and imagines the stress of juggling the classwork with the commitment of practice and travel she is glad she is having a more traditional experience.
Obviously only you can make this decision but you sound pretty unhappy about running. If you have other activities that you can do to fill some time and help you meet other people, you might be happier overall. However, one thing that did jump out at me in your post was you talked a lot about not feeling good enough on your team. Are you sure you’re not wanting to quit because the challenge has now gotten too hard? Has the fun been taken out of it because you’re not the best and you’re embarrassed by that since it’s not something you’re used to? I’m not saying those aren’t valid feelings but it’s just something to consider while making your decision. If you went to practice today and were the star of the team would you feel differently? If so, does it make any sense to talk to the coach about how you’re feeling and how he sees your running career at the school going?
Good luck to you!
I was part of a competitive singing organization that I stuck with for years. I really do know how your identity gets embedded in that. The team, the social aspects–all of it. I wasn’t a star but it was nice to belong to a group doing what was fun.
After many years, it wasn’t as much fun. It became work. The organization hadn’t changed but I did. I was grateful for so many great times and memories but it just wasn’t a good fit anymore. It took a lot of my time and there were other things I wanted to do. I wasn’t sure what but I did know that if I kept on that particular path I’d lose the chance to do new things. So I finally quit–it was a big leap of faith (in me mostly). And I’m so glad I did.
I jumped ship and joined another organization that fits my present life and needs. I met more friendly people (nice thing about joining clubs) and have a new social group while keeping tabs on a few old friends. Win-win.
My advice is to go check out ultimate frisbie if it appeals. Go to a game, call whomever is in charge and talk to them. See what’s involved. Find out what it takes to join if you haven’t already. FWIW I know kids who played competitively in college and they thought it was a blast.
Even if you don’t do it competitively there are clubs that play probably.
You aren’t dumping track–it’s just run its course (so to speak). Time to do something new that you appear to be really interested in. Hobbies and sports (unless you’re a pro) are meant to feed the soul and if that isn’t happening it’s time to explore other avenues.
Learning how to quit things that no longer work for you is an important and healthy life skill. It is scary the first time you quit something that has been super important to you, but remember that we need to say goodbyes in order to make room for hellos.
This is so true. I’ve never been good at quitting things. I’ve always been the one to think “maybe it’ll get better if I just hang in there a bit longer.” Spoiler alert–never happened.
But when starting NEW things–you can’t quit too soon. There’s always a learning curve. That’s when you need to give it some time. Nobody I’ve ever met is happy about change. It’s hard.