I want to tell you a story and it’s a personal one. It’s my story. Well the beginning of my story that is.

Where do I even start? For the sake of keeping this an email rather than a book, I’m going to stick to the main points.

Most of my childhood revolved around diving. No not scuba diving silly! Springboard and platform diving. Diving and I began our relationship when I was the ripe age of 6! I remember I was in swimming lessons and I was so freaking bored so one day I pointed to the diving boards (they were near the hot tub which is probably what I was actually pointing at) and said, “Mom, I want to do that instead!”. And she let me.

The next 8ish years were spent on that pool deck: 3-4 hours a day, 6 days a week. My friends, my role models, my happiness, and my sadness all lived on that pool deck. If I didn’t have an actual “practice”, I was there for a private lesson or conditioning. I was on track to be a national champion… Olympics even? Or so I was told!

Those years are now a big mush of memories but here’s what’s important: I loved my diving world. I started to get so used to be told “I was special” and “I was a beautiful diver” and “I was going far”… that there was no thought that came into my head about ever leaving diving or trying something else. Diving was what I did and it was who I was.

For a majority of those 8 years, I was happy! It was fun for the most part. I remember having moments of being unhappy because I couldn’t hangout with friends from school and other little things like that, but for the most part it was fun and I loved the social and competitive nature of the sport.

But here’s the thing…the problem I suppose…at some point on that pool deck I stopped doing it because I loved the sport and started doing it because I thought I had to and couldn’t imagine my life without it. People were relying on me. I needed to be the best I could be for them.

My parent’s friends were other diving parents (of course they were since we were always there!), my only friends were divers, and I felt I owed something to my coaches for all the time they put into teaching me (as a kid, you don’t realize that they’re teaching you because they are paid, not out of the kindness of their heart).

I started to literally dread going to practice because I always felt like I had to learn the next big dive and if I wasn’t learning a new dive, I’d no longer be “Karissa the amazing diver on track for a national championship” and become “Karissa the diver that peaked at age 11″… and I couldn’t fathom that. For myself or for the people I represented. So every day I’d showed up and try to force myself to learn bigger dives and be more competitive.

When I wouldn’t show up like this, my coaches would push me… a lot of the time to the point of yelling at me and making me feel really guilty. I’d leave practice feeling defeated and like I had disappointed everyone. I’d sit in the shower decompressing from practice and just be really sad. I did this for years…too many years.

But don’t worry! Things do get better from here. 🙂

On top of everything going on with me personally, the team I dove with had some big problems. A lot of the older kids (high-school age) were really into drugs and were big time partiers. I was the diving with these big kids when I was just 11 or 12 and they started to have a negative influence on me.

I’m really grateful that my mom saw this and took action when she did because when you’re the baby and trying to impress the older kids, bad things happen. My mom ended up forcing me to switch pools to one a little further away with a different coach and different divers. This pool wasn’t as competitive but the team was full of really positive “good kids”. At the time, I was pissed, I was in denial that I wasn’t happy and I threw a fit over being forced to move to this “sub par” pool. But I did it. And it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me.

Something about moving teams relaxed that inner need to impress and satisfy everyone else. After a while here, I was getting ready to go into HS and my sister was going into Junior year and was the setter for the volleyball team. I went to a lot of her tournaments and it looked like so much FUN! The girls were smiling and having fun. I wanted THAT!

I asked my mom if I could try out for volleyball and she, to my surprise, said “yes!” and I did it. I made the team with no experience and I decided to take a “break” from diving for the season. Taking a break from diving is not a thing. No one does this. When I made that decision, it was a big deal and I never would have done it if I was still at the first pool. I probably would have just been told “no” and I would have listened. lol

That season of volleyball was seriously the best few months of my life thus far. I made friends. We did things outside of the sport like going to the beach, hanging out at my friend Megan’s house, and just being kids! It literally opened my eyes to a new world! I thought, “have I been missing out on this my whole childhood?” I was freaking stoked!

THIS is what this story is about. I ended up going back to diving for a while and even got a full ride for diving at the University of California Irvine. But I never went back to the world where diving was everything. I needed to take a break from it, to see that it was just a sport and not my identity.

Having this experience in my childhood has absolutely shaped who I am today and I am so grateful for that experience. If I hadn’t known what it was like to be so disciplined and focused on something so early on, I never would have been so grateful for that freedom and lightheartedness I felt once I quit. Even today, I just feel so grateful that I don’t “have” to do anything. No one can force me to spend 3 hours a day doing anything and gosh that makes me happy!

And here’s the thing, that discipline that I was taught, I take that with me into everything I do today. When I want to learn how to do something new, I know how to teach myself and learn quickly. I would never want to have my childhood look any different because if it was different, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

So here’s what I want you to do. I want you to think about your childhood / early adulthood and think of something that happened that you are resentful for. Maybe your parents were uber strict or maybe they were way too lax. Maybe you were bullied, maybe you struggled with being the bully yourself… whatever it is… I want you to think about it and find one thing you learned from it or that shaped you from that situation. Is it possible to have gratitude for that situation even if it was ugly?

Sometimes in life, we hold on to resentment for things that we find frustrating or upsetting. But unfortunately, resentment does nothing for us except holds us back from becoming who we are meant to be. If we can release that resentment and possibly even find gratitude, we GET TO, move on and find pure and utter happiness. And we deserve that. So please, LET YOURSELF move on and be happy. Let yourself be free of that resentment. The only person who struggles from holding onto it is YOU.

I want you to repeat this mantra with me:

I live in the now, design my own future, and am grateful for my past. The past only has a positive influence on my future.

I hope my story and this message speaks to you in some way.

I love you beautiful babes!
xoxo Karissa