'What I'm Really Thinking about giving up sport'

I do swimming. Proper competitive swimming. You know the one where they expect you to get up at ridiculous o’clock in the morning because it’s the time when the club can book the pool. I’ve been thinking long and hard, though, about whether I’ll continue.

I know I’m good, and that’s not even me boasting, but I’m making all my division times and I’ve won at some Galas that I’ve been to. But it’s just hard and getting harder. Not the competition so much, but just the pressure on me. I’m doing my Junior Cert this year, so there’s an expectation that I’m going to be studying, but there are several days each week (not even my “earlies”, more like the day after them) when I’m just wrecked. I try to study, but sometimes my mind just drifts and then I feel cross with myself for wasting time.

There isn’t enough time to do some of the things that I really want. Some of my friends have boyfriends and I’m quite jealous of them, but I don’t feel like I even have the time for that. I barely keep up the social media stuff with my girlfriends, never mind having a boyfriend too. I’m not sure boys would even be interested in me anyway. My friends are always slagging me for being too “sporty”, joking about my weightlifting and stuff.

I don’t really do weightlifting, but I do strength and conditioning work, as well as my swimming. You have to be strong if you want to go fast. I do want to go fast. But I feel self-conscious then if the girls are teasing me about it. And if the girls are thinking about it, I wonder if the boys think of me as sporty and not pretty. Like I know I’m really fit and Mum is always saying how healthy I am, but I’m not skinny. I have more muscles than a lot of the boys I know.

None of my friends do any sport at the level I do, and so they just don’t get it when I say that I can’t come out, or I can’t get into town at the weekend. They do the eye-roll thing as if to say, “here she goes again…” Or maybe they say worse stuff when I’m not there. I don’t know. That’s the trouble with the swimming. I love it, but I feel like I miss out so much.

I even leave my phone downstairs in the evening and I might be gone to bed by 9pm and they think that’s weird too. Most of them are chatting to each other ’till way later. So, I’m not part of any of that.

It’s really hard to decide. I can’t really discuss it with my mum and dad, because for them it’s a no-brainer. They’d never understand why I’d want to stop swimming. Plus, they’ve invested a lot of time and energy in my swimming and they’d be really disappointed. I don’t think they’d ever forgive me.

Sometimes all the thinking gets me down. I’m tired anyway and then when I realise what I’m giving up if I choose either, I just think I can’t win. That’s ironic. I can win in my swimming, but my winning there doesn’t let me win in life. I don’t know if my parents even notice that I’m down. They probably just think I’m tired. That’s what makes it so hard. Nobody understands. My friends don’t get my swimming and my parents would never understand that my friends are so important to me. There’re times I wish someone else would just come in and decide for me.

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