Being an Athlete Without Support of Family & Other Important People

By Elisabeth Clay 

Being in sports my whole life, especially now as an adult, this is something I see more often than I would care to admit. There are a lot of athlete’s traveling and trying to make this their life who don’t have the support of parents. Some are worse off and have parents who want them to go to school and get a “real” job. I see people who are currently going through it or whose parents might support them now, but didn’t earlier on in their careers. I see athletes who come from all over the world to the US to try to make a living doing this and run into so many problems. 

“If I Win This I Can Prove it to Them”

I hear athletes say “if I win this I can prove it to them.” Here’s the sad truth if you are doing something just to prove something to someone else: you aren’t truly going to be putting everything out there.  

Let’s give an example. You have this huge competition and you have it in your mind that if you win, they will finally support you. What happens when you win and they don’t, or they don’t even ask about it? You should be happy and proud of your accomplishment, but you won’t be because you put so much on this one thing, thinking that they would finally approve of what you do. While winning this competition should fuel your fire it’ll instead be like pouring water on it. The flip side to that coin is the athlete is putting so much pressure on themselves to win that their focus is not just on the sport but the pressure to please others. This can cause you not to perform well. 

How Do We Fix This?

We have to be confident and happy regardless of having the support or approval of others. We cannot let stupid, sly, thoughtless, or even hurtful comments from family or friends make us feel bad about ourselves and what we are doing. Believe me, most of my family (those that matter most) are very supportive, but I have still heard some crazy negative comments from some of the not so supportive family members, friends or coaches. I kept my motivation to go in spite of all this, but I also wasn’t trying to change their mind about it. You have to let it just roll off of your back. If what you do makes you happy and it’s what you want to do with your life, you have to do it. Additionally, make sure you are appreciative of those who are supportive, because they may be taking grief from those who are not supportive. One of the things I have been told most is sometimes those who are negative are just jealous. Be kind to them but try to find a supportive network for yourself.  

I have always been blessed that when one door has shut another has always opened. That support comes in all different forms: emotional, financial, training, and many other ways. 

Don’t Give Up 

Do not give up on your dream because you cannot see the light or the path to the goal. Just do all you can do and keep moving forward. Be grateful to those who help and always try to acknowledge them. Keep a grateful heart, be a good sport (win or lose), and be a positive ambassador of the sport, radiating that in your training and competition. You may then find that support from family, friends, or people who become your family. I have talked to so many who were about to quit and return home just before things opened up for them. 

You are the one who has to be happy and that will be seen by others. You will never please everyone, maybe not even the ones you want to please the most. But if you are making yourself happy, if you love your life and find purpose and fulfillment, then keep on. Hopefully, you will find those who will support you. It may never be easy but if it is the life you want, then hold fast to it. Know that there are those of us pulling for you. Become your lion or lioness! 

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