If you knew me at University you would have soon realised I was not the most conforming PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) student. Rocking up to lectures with wet hair and smelling of chlorine, never seen in the library trying to get out all of the books on the weeks reading list and swanning around in lycra, doesn’t quite fit the usual PPE mould. So yes my priorities were a bit wrong, and yes I was a disappointment to the class of 2015. However, maybe I am not too much of a let down as the recent 2016 political upsets, two in particular come to mind, have triggered a sub-conscious interest in the reactions and perceptions of these events and what do they actually mean – only a few years too late.
Do not fear I am not going to bore you all with the rise of populism, effects of repression and/or the definition of democracy, however relevant, as I would not force that on anyone after my personal experience for three years. But I am going to link the reactive nature of this modern world and how this manifests within the individualistic nature of our society with the ways we cope with injuries, results and training as athletes. Yes I am going to do it/“tri”, so stay with me and it may, or may not answer some political woes you may have right now through something that you are probably far more interested in and connected with.
Let’s first focus on our social media feeds following these two events, and if you need reminding I am speaking of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Following these events we all woke up to a massive amount of panic, declaration of Armageddon (by definition how can this happen twice in 2016?!), a lack of understanding of Democracy (yes the people did speak whether we agree or not) and crashing markets. All these reactions have happened as the news broke when actually, if you think about it, nothing has changed. The UK is still in the EU and will be for at least another few years, Trump is not president till January 2017 and yet the markets had plummeted overnight and every social media politician is boosting their campaign and creating opinions left, right and centre (literally).
I can hear you cry and shuffle in your seat with discomfort; “so what is your point and we have a right to show our opinion of our ghastly future – what about our children?….” STOP, take a breath! Doesn’t this remind you of something closer to home when you have an injury? That moment you realise your plan has to change? The sudden pain and worry you get as it happens that causes a spike in emotions and lack clarity?
You react straight away. You start thinking the worst while you google how you will need an amputation. You have no idea what is going on as you are not a Doctor or Physio, but still you convince yourself you are right. You plan how to keep fit in the most obscure ways, maybe force yourself into unnatural weight loss habits to control one last thing. Yet you still have not got the professional advice (the man down the pub does not count!), you have not sat back and used your rational brain, just your emotional one, to work out the situation and create an informed approach to the change of plan.
A few weeks down the line you have this information, everything is less cloudy and you are back in control as if nothing happened, because the truth is not much has. Something has changed but is not defining you as yes you are still alive, can make the impact you want and time always passes. Just like the aftermath of Armageddon round 1 and 2; the markets within a few weeks were back at the pre Brexit level, and social media is once again flooded with laughing cat videos and racer snake memes following Wednesday’s result. So maybe, just maybe, sit back and start to understand your situation, whether politics or an injury, and then create an informed choice about how to react and move forward – otherwise it is just opinion, the very thing that people are blaming everyone who didn’t vote in the “right” way for.
Ok, if you are still with me, I lied, I am going to bring repression to the table. Repression, whether a perception of a particular group of individuals or reality can be seen as a large contributor to the unpredictable events of 2016. The very reason certain individuals felt repressed led them to want to have a say that would make a difference, see change and maybe just maybe help their situation – because they are just fed-up, naturally. Why do we think voter turn-out for the Referendum was 72.2%? The highest turnout for any UK election in over 20 years. The experience of repression comes from the circumstances; if you are not struggling to find work, have dinner every night and are warm in bed – it is very unlikely you will be seeking answers and/or seeking changes as why would you?
As an athlete, when reviewing goals, race performances, coaching situations and training plans you ask yourself whether the system is working and whether it is getting you closer to your individual goals. Of course if you have won every race that season, achieved PBs across the board and are healthy, no answers are needed as the system is working for you (vote with the status-quo). However, if you have once again under-performed, ill or injured for the nth time and are still not progressing despite the hours you have put into it, money you have spent and emotions you have gone through – you may feel you need to mix things up. Yes, you cope for so long and know that maybe if you give some more time or focus a little harder it will come right. But there comes a time when you realise that the xxxx combination will never get you to y. That is when you act – maybe you change coach, maybe you change your training focus or maybe you give up (vote against the norm). No one can predict this other than you and so no one can blame you. These big changes and choices have not happened overnight, just like the results in 2016, they have been subconsciously festering till it gets too much and change becomes the priority and “right” given the circumstances.
Now you are very loyal if you are still with me. However this is where I provide an answer, well an Eloise point of view (yes opinion – be wary of it)! At the moment whether you are worried about a political situation or your current sporting goal all you can do is control the controllable. What has happened, has happened whether you agree or not, whether it’s fair or not, but you can’t change it. What you can do is focus on everything you can control whether that is you becoming a politician to share the “injustice” you are feeling or find a new coach to align better with you as a person and athlete. No one is either right or wrong as differing circumstances lead to differing beliefs that in our own eyes are “right” at that specific moment in time. As hey a belief, by definition, cannot be wrong to the person who holds it.
“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened” – Mark Twain.
Just keep smiling and lots of love,