The Hardest Part of Being an Athlete: Missing My Family

By Elisabeth Clay

Sometimes you have to do things that are hard. I’ve talked about this before but I still think it’s important for me to touch on it again, especially because I’m super homesick and need to talk about it. It’s also important for people to see that it’s not all sunshine and roses; it’s not all easy and perfect, nor will it ever be. But that is the case with everything; nothing is ever going to be perfect no matter what you choose to do in this life. That is something my mother taught me and I will forever love her for it.

The Hardest Part of Being an Athlete

For me the hardest part of being an athlete was never the actual training. Yeah, the grueling training sessions are not easy, but I’ve always loved it. The hardest part for me was always the time away from my family, missing birthdays and weddings (well didn’t miss it because they moved it for me, amazing family). I’ve had to move away from family twice for training.

My family has always been close and they have been so understanding of me having to miss things in order to train and compete. I’ve taken it for granted and looking back at it – I always spent time with them, don’t get me wrong – I should have cherished it more, and that’s something I’ve learned over the last few years, especially these last few months. But I suppose that’s how it always goes. I’m forever learning.

elisabeth clay and brotherMy Family and l Are Very Close

I stayed in the hospital with three of my nieces and one of my nephews and took care of them till they went home, all while still training during the day. We’ve always been close. In 2010, we all moved up to Alaska and stayed close. We were never more than one hour away from each other. Then, in 2016, I moved four hours away. I didn’t see many of them for weeks, some not for a few months.

After about six months my mom, dad, and three younger brothers moved up there with me, which made it a lot easier. I still missed my sister and older brothers and their kids, but they would make trips up and I would still get to see them. Sure, it wasn’t ideal, especially since I was so used to being able to just walk to see my sister and nieces, but it worked even though I thought it was hard.

In 2018 I made the decision to move to California, away from everything and everyone I know and love, but it was the best choice for my career. Tournaments are closer and I can now compete a lot more. I also get to train with even more people who have the same goals. It’s where I need to be, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. I miss my family, training partners and my old gym. Don’t get me wrong, I love it down here as well. If I didn’t love it and it wasn’t the best thing for my career, I wouldn’t be here. I haven’t seen my family since June 10th (on my 18th birthday when I left Anchorage).

My mom and my brother are coming down to visit soon and so he can compete, and I can’t wait, but I missed my niece Bekah’s 6th birthday on August 15th again. I wished I was there but it didn’t hurt so much until I checked my Facebook and saw a memory of a post I made in 2016.

I missed her 4th birthday, as well.

I talked to my mom about Bekah’s birthday and I said to make sure she knew I loved her and to tell her happy birthday. It came up that when Bekah talked about coming up to Anchorage from where they live, that it was finally “Welcome Aunt Lis home day.” As much as I’m glad they love and miss me, it still sucks, but I know this will all be worth it.

Nothing in Life Worth Having is Easy

Remember to cherish your family and your time with them, even if it’s just a call here or there, a text, anything. It’s better if you have them near, and even if you’re tired, make sure to spend time with them (even the annoying younger siblings). They love you and there will come a time that you will miss them and wish you had them with you. Don’t hold stupid grudges, they’re not good for you and life is too short for them.

Become your own lion or lioness, but don’t forget the people who support you, and always remember to cherish your family.

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