I entered journalism around six years ago seeing it as this purely enjoyable, unlimited source of happiness. It was, for quite some time for me. I loved writing. I was genuinely curious about the world and other people’s lives. I then got assigned to beats that exposed me to how unfair society is, how the moneyed almost always gets their way, how those with connections are at a disproportionate advantage, and how social problems have become more or less cyclical. So when it became a source of frustration and at times even of deep sadness, I started rejecting it and wanting to abandon it. I jumped ship, leaving the profession I so loved. I resigned from what was then my dream job. After two months, I came back to the profession with more clarity in intention and maturity in my approach to processing social power dynamics. Experience forces you to come up with what your acceptable calculus is in life. It forces you to contemplate what you truly value — what you are willing to risk losing and what your principles cannot stand to forego. And, after that experience, I have come to accept that the ills in society may not ever cease to exist but it’s nice to try to end them anyway while we can still try.
I’m re-sharing this Youtube video below of my favorite athlete, Alicia Sacramone (now Alicia Sacramone-Quinn), as a reminder that good things may not ever come but it gives you peace of mind to know that you tried.
Sacramone retired from gymnastics after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, falling on her feet during a simple landing and going off bounds in her floor routine as well as falling off the beam during her beam routine.
She then returned to her craft at an age very few gymnasts would peak at, but modelled grace and gave the best performances of her career during her comeback.
She never made it back to the next Olympics due to the make-up of the US team in 2012. There was an abundance of vault specialists in their pool. US even had the then reigning world champion (and later Internet meme sensation), McKayla Maroney, at that time. Although Sacramone garnered Olympic-level scores and even placed second on both her events during trials, being a vault and beam specialist, Sacramone was sidelined in favor of all-arounders and the badly needed bar specialists.
Still, she had a solid world-class two-year run after her initial retirement.
She is celebrated to this day as the comeback kid, with stellar performances in her 20s even when gymnasts usually peak in their teens. For all the subsequent as well as future Olympic gold medalists in US gymnastics after her, I’m sure she inspired and will inspire dozens of them. She was mother hen to them during her comeback.
She is now among the most decorated gymnasts in the world in terms medals bagged in the yearly world championships, owing to her longevity in the sport. Even though my work has nothing to do with physical tumbles, she is still a powerful source of inspiration to me to this day.
As she put it about her comeback, she wasn’t trying to change how others viewed her but how she viewed herself. That picture of her falling in Beijing in 2008 — what she called an “uncharacteristic mistake” — kept popping up. So she decided it won’t be what she is reminded of when she thinks of her career, that she will end it in a high note she wanted. And she did. She retired after the 2012 US Olympic trials.
I’m sharing this now for those like me who might find this real-life woman of steel a source of inspiration, one way or the other.
Happy Women’s Month!