Letter to My Younger Self
Hello everyone! I’m Briley Casanova with Complete Performance Coaching. Today, I want to share with you the things I would tell my 12-year-old athlete self in a letter.
As I was talking with my fellow coaches over the past few weeks about ideas for blog posts, we were talking about common topics that would come up during our one-on-one sessions. Overcoming fears was one of the more common topics we encountered. After sharing some of my experiences of coping with fears in my past, this sparked the idea of what I wish I told myself when I was a younger athlete.
My letter to young 12-year-old Briley:
Future you would be so proud of you right now! You don’t even know what is about to come your way, but you’re equally as excited, if not more excited, than you are anxious. This is a good thing. If you weren’t thinking about planning for your future, focusing on what’s important, or if you weren’t prioritizing academics and athletics over the more immediate gratification of having fun outside of practice, I’d be more concerned for you.
Your anxiety and excitement for the future means that you care, which is an admirable trait that most athletes your age haven’t embraced yet. You have always been someone with foresight who thinks ahead and plans for most situations, which is one of your strengths.
However, sometimes you get really good at overthinking all of the details because of how much you like to think and plan ahead. While having your perfectionist mindset is what makes you good at gymnastics most times, sometimes it distracts you from seeing the progress you make and seeing the “big picture”. This gets you down sometimes and it’s not fun. Future you wishes that you remembered your strengths and what you have to offer over the small mistakes that you’d make or setbacks you encountered along the way. This is especially true when it comes to your fears.
Briley, let’s talk more about your fears. I wish I could say that all of your fears would go away completely, but that isn’t the reality. Some skills might carry a little bit of that pit in your stomach feeling until the day you graduate from the University of Michigan (yeah, you’re gonna earn a full scholarship there, by the way!). Specifically, overshoots on bars will be one of the chosen skills that intimidate you. I say this not to scare you, but to show you that you continue to not only carry on, but you thrive despite the skills that terrify you.
You eventually learn to not let the fear to perform certain skills control you and you even get creative with connecting your Gienger directly to the overshoot on bars to smooth the transition from high to low bar in addition to still competing the skill with the fear in the back of your head. This is an example where your collaboration with your coaches and your creativity to make skills work for you blossom to become a positive outcome.
You increase value in your bar routine and maintain your ability to compete at a high level all despite your fear. Not only is this advantageous for you and your team in terms of maintaining a high level, clean routine, but you also save your body from potential injury and avoid allowing your fear to control you by making this choice.
With that being said, you come to understand that what your fears are, really have no power over you, and isn’t something to let hang over your own head. One day, you’ll wake up and realize that even fear itself isn’t a big deal and it is extremely normal. If you weren’t scared of the skills you were doing, that would be even more surprising, because you are doing scary, incredible things with your body that most non-gymnasts would only be able to dream of doing!
You will see several teammates experience mental blocks and fears, too. However, one thing you will wish you had learned earlier than you did was to be kinder to yourself and show yourself some forgiveness, just like you would a teammate going through a fear. The most important thing you will learn is that you have control over how you handle your fear and manage to cope with it.
Briley, the fact that you will learn to compete and practice despite not feeling your best is an accomplishment that you will not give yourself enough credit for. There will be times where you compete and practice sick, injured, emotionally and physically exhausted, sore, terrified, and sleep-deprived. Some of your best performances will take place when you are not feeling your best, which is something to cherish and give yourself credit for.
Due to your love for the sport that you work so hard to earn your accomplishments in, you will take advantage of the days where it would be much easier to quit, give less effort, or simply not show up and instead, you will show up and go beyond your comfort zone. Your competitors, friends, and even teammates will not always choose that option and you might even feel left out or unpopular for the immediate moment. However, you will learn later that your sacrifices and unpopular choices were the best ones for you. Y our decisions to not follow the crowd or to put off immediate gratification will serve you and make you better. In fact, you will win many competitions, learn mind-blowing skills in the gym, and create a fabulous path for yourself because of your long-term goals that you stick to pursuing.
Briley, you should be so proud of yourself for competing and training despite your fears, weaknesses, and mistakes instead of falling to the negative voices in your head. You chose to fight through difficulty, pain, and setbacks when you could have given in to all of the reasons not to do so.
You are a warrior, a leader, a competitor, and a fiercely independent athlete. Above all else, you are an obnoxiously happy, positive human who does not fully understand your impact on the sport you dedicate your time and energy to yet. Keep doing what you’re doing anyway. Continue to be your own individual self and go with what your inner voice is leading you towards. Future you will be proud of you and thank you for it.
Please feel free to reach out to me directly at [email protected] if you have any feedback or questions about this post. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Happy training!