In my youth, I was an active child and always playing sports. On my half-hour rides to practice, my dad would always turn on the alternative rock radio station, which definitely impacted my music tastes in the future. One song that I loved to hear was “If It Makes You Happy” by Sheryl Crow. I can vividly remember singing the song on the way to soccer practice while lacing up my cleats. At the time, I did not realize the impact that song would have on my life. Today, it has shaped the way I look at life and the decisions I make about the future.
I played several sports throughout my life from karate to gymnastics to soccer to basketball. I have done it all, but nothing really stuck with me until track. My dad had run track in college and was my coach when I first started to compete in middle school. I absolutely loved it. So when I was given the opportunity to run at Notre Dame, I felt it was something I had to do. I mean how many people get the opportunity to compete at a division one school, particularly at Notre Dame? Unfortunately, it wasn’t all I desired. Something just didn’t feel right to me. I would go to practice every day, talk to my amazing teammates, but it just didn’t seem a good fit for me. I decided I would stick with it for a year, see how it went and hoped I would warm up to it. This was the sport that I loved, the sport my dad and I bonded over, how could this not work for me? However, everyday I went to practice and everyday I felt miserable.
When I came home for the summer it felt like a reprieve, and I started to consider quitting, hanging up my spikes for good. There were so many things to consider. I probably wouldn’t see my teammates anymore, I would feel guilty for wasting the coach’s time, I didn’t want to say I quit yet another sport, and more importantly, I was scared to disappoint the people in my life who motivated me on this path.
I consulted the advice of many people before making this decision, but when it ultimately came down to it, I had to ask myself, “does this make me happy?” I remembered that song, the one I heard a thousand times on the radio on the way to all those sports practices: “If it makes you happy, then why the hell are you so sad?” It was obvious that I was not happy; I didn’t enjoy my time when I was at practice. You can look at this decision as me quitting and giving up, but I like to look at it as me making the mature decision to move on and close that chapter of my life. Why drag myself every day and dedicate a large sum of my time to something that does not bring me joy and does not make me feel happy? I can definitely say that I am a much happier person now, and not a day goes by that I regret my decision to close that chapter of my life.
There are moments in our lives when we have to make these tough decisions and reexamine our habits, asking ourselves if we are truly happy with what we are doing. Life is too short to spend our time doing something we don’t enjoy, things that do not make us happy. These wise words of Sheryl Crow don’t just apply to sports, but to all aspects of life: relationships, school, jobs, etc. Decisions such as these are in no way easy, especially, when we have put so much effort and force behind the things we do, but if we are not truly happy are we truly living?