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  • Writer's pictureMackenzie Stewart

Figuring Out How to Lead the Life We Envision.

Growing up, I didn’t really know what it meant to be wanting. I was not faced with many things I could not have or could not achieve. Some may say I didn’t know what adversity meant I hadn’t experienced it. I was born into an amazing family that loved and supported me in most of my decisions. I was privileged and granted most things I wanted as a child and even as a young adult. I didn’t have to really ever fight for much or hear the word no too often.

Adversity is relative though, it can’t be judged or measured, It is not all created equal by any means, and we can not decide what a challenge or setback may look like in the eyes of someone else. It is a conflict in someone's life that they have to find a way to overcome, this intrigues people and leaves them wanting to know more about how they overcame their battle, or if they are still fighting.

I have been struggling with understanding why it feels as though I don’t have a story, something that makes me stand apart from the rest. It can’t be that I just don’t have one…. everyone has a story, a challenge, a commonality that allows people to connect and relate with you, or to be intrigued by what made you the person you are. To have a story doesn’t mean I have to feel as though my life has been tough or I drew the short straw because I most definitely did not, it just means that like everyone else I have had to overcome obstacles and fight for the life I want. I have a story, I am flawed, I am scarred, but I have been resilient and will continue to pursue my dreams despite the obstacles put in my path!

I think adversity helps better define someone's story and understanding your adversity allows other people to understand you better and connect with you. I have faced my own adversity in life but also in sport, one day I will find the words to share with you my full story and how I have had to find resiliency so you can better understand me, however, today is not that day. Today I want to share with you the things I have learned from the last couple of years and hope my experiences will add value to your lives.

As an individual, I was granted the gift of athleticism (unfortunately I was not given the gift of spelling and grammar, but I will continue to try my best.) and growing up didn’t have to do too much to outshine some of my teammates or opponents. It just came naturally and if I was not the best on the pitch, court, or track I would use guilt or negativity to drive myself to do better. As kids and teenagers, we have a lot more energy, so we can spare some of that for negative thoughts that drive us and not be too mentally exhausted. We also excel so much quicker when we are younger, we get faster, we get more skilled, we get stronger and all this happens at a very fast pace if we put a little bit of effort in. As we age we lose a lot of the excess energy and don’t have as much to spare on being mentally drained. Over the last few years, I have learned the exhaustion that negativity brings. Not only does it mentally drain you but also by the end of the day you are physically exhausted. The tricks of guilt, shame, and negative self-drive do not work for an athlete at this level or age. I no longer bounce back like the energizer bunny, to continue on an upward path in my sport. I am learning that positivity and light are the way to excel and the way to live a healthier life in sport. I need to appreciate what I have done well, continue to do those things, and add more every day. Something that one of my teammates said to me that has resonated and helped me start my day a little better than the previous was “talent sets the floor, character sets the ceiling” I don’t know who said it first but I’m going to continue to say it. Without my character, I don’t know who I am, and I don’t want to lose that trying to achieve my goal. I know the road to my goal will be tough, grinding and not always sunny but without keeping my character it’s not a goal worth achieving. To come out the other end and not see me in the mirror or the human I want to be is not an option. It’s all or nothing and I’m all in, so I have to take all of me for the ride.

This sport continues to find new ways to test me and push my limits. This year has given me a new perspective on life and made me question more than just my goal. I find myself asking what is it that I truly want and why am I here, what is it that is driving me to be better every day? Is it for my family, community, future children, and grandchildren, what are my values, and why is this important? It can take years to figure out your purpose and find your place in the world. I know I want to inspire those around me to follow their dreams, be a light in a world that can often be harsh and not always pleasant, and build others up along the way. I want to have made a difference and add value to people’s lives, I want to be the teammate that is always there and makes training, races, and travel better! I want to be a role model for young girls and women to embrace their power and skills and use them to be successful in everything they do. I want to bring joy and light to my parent's faces when they see me on the big stage, and I want to be a knowledgeable, loving, kind, thoughtful older sister to my two younger sisters whom I love unconditionally! However I am still sometimes left wondering how I will do this, does it include my sport? does it mean finding a new career path? and how do I figure out where I add the most value? I don’t think it can be answered in one thing, I think just like life it will always be changing, not simple and not linear, and this is okay as long as I continue to remember my values along the way.

I started writing this before the pandemic and during the pandemic have realized this has brought adversity to all our lives in different ways. So I just want to touch on the positives we can all be taking away from the situation. Adversity can add a lot of value to one's life if you let it. Yes, sometimes it comes with loss, sadness, anger, and fear but those feelings and events can be channelled into something incredible if you allow yourself to take a step back and look at the larger picture. At some point or another, we all experience these feelings from events that take place in our lives. Loss of a loved one, heartbreak, moving away from friends and family, being let go from a job, just having a bad day, we have no control over the events that will happen in our lives… we can only control the way we respond, which in turn can alter the outcome. We get to prove just how resilient we are, and adversity can be the spark to ignite that fire. Take the time you need to grieve the misfortune but then I urge you to try and find the underlying positives. If you feel like you have been stuck, or spiralling out in life, I want to give you a little push in hopefully a more positive direction. I challenge you to take a step back and ask yourself what your values are, and what you really want from life. Are you currently living it? have you been letting an obstacle stand in your way for too long? do you wish you could be doing something different? do you want to be adding value somewhere else in the world? It's not always clear why we feel stuck, but often it is because we let obstacles keep us from following our passions, we stop feeling fulfilled, and we ignore the signs that we are not doing what we were meant to do. This doesn’t have to be the case though. It won’t happen overnight, but try and be more purposeful in what you do, and make a choice to improve your current state. In turn, you will live a happier life doing what fuels your dreams!

I hope something in this will help you start to move in the direction of whatever goal you have set for yourself!


Stay safe, and healthy!

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