Adventure is... Invincible.
According to the many texts I'm receiving, I am "Twitter famous." It's very bizarre to me. My phone won't stop buzzing and my battery dies so quickly, but I don't want to turn the notifications off because I'm no Sammy Rhodes (s/o to @SammyRhodes - give him a follow) and this never happens to me. I like the confirmation that sometimes I can be funny.
When watching Michael Phelps win the 4x100 Free Relay the other night, I realized how far he has come since a picture of him went around of him smoking a bong. Do you remember where it happened? Good ole Columbia, South Carolina. The picture from that party was everywhere. I can only imagine what a dark day that was for Michael Phelps. A man who was once invincible lost so much based on that one decision. A decision that millions of college students make, some on a daily basis. But with that one hit, he lost endorsement deals, he lost his fans and in all honesty, he lost himself too. He was quoted telling his agent, "I don't want to be alive anymore." We all thought that would be the end of Michael Phelps. In a 2012 interview, he reflected on his mistake saying it was the worst feeling in the world, "the lowest of the low."
Beijing. 2008. Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson. Does everyone remember? I was shocked at work the other day when people didn't. Olympic gymnastics has always been my favorite, and Shawn Johnson is probably my favorite gymnast of them all. Shawn Johnson was the Simone Biles of that year. She was expected to bring home 4-gold medals, including the Individual All-Around. When the scores came in, it was Nastia who brought home the Individual All-Around gold and Shawn Johnson brought home the Silver. She brought home silver from her floor routine and from the Team All-Around. She describes this moment as she knew her floor routine was no match against Nastia's. She knew there was no way she could bring home the gold, but she still put her heart and soul into her routine. 50,000 people gave her a standing ovation for her performance. When standing on the podium, as the medal was placed around her neck, the peron giving her the silver said, "I'm Sorry." She felt crushed. Like she completely failed. She failed herself. She failed her parents. Her coaches. Her country. The world. She did bring home one gold medal on beam, and she describes that moment as incredible, but the damage of feeling like a failure was done. The world saw her as a gymnast and expected her to bring home four gold medals, and she thought that because she failed at being a gymnast, she failed at being a human being.
Michael Phelps and Shawn Johnson are two names that I grew up with. Two people I idolized. They seemed perfect at their sport, and that's all I saw of them. Therefore, I assumed they were invincible in life too. That isn't the case at all. In Michael Phelps' case, I admire his comeback. He has rebuilt his image and is swimming in his fifth straight Olympics, where he has already won a gold. Shawn Johnson has since retired from gymnastics, is a newly-wed and shares her testimony about how Jesus helped her through the darkest time of her life.
It's so important to realize that these athletes are not invincible. These stars are human too. They make mistakes just like we do. The pressure that comes from being beyond elite is something I can't even fathom.
I almost didn't send in that Tweet. It isn't often that I reread a tweet multiple times before hitting send. I tend to be a bit impulsive and definitely Tweet more than I should, but this time it crossed my mind. Will people think this means I'm smoking a bong in Five Points? If Michael Phelps ever stalked my Twitter, would he hate me for this? But I came to a realization that I wasn't kidding. This isn't a joke. I know many people think it's a joke, and that's why it has blown up in the Carolina community, but I'm not kidding. You may think your career is over. You may make a colossal mistake. You may be at an all-time low, but you can always come back from it. There's always something more for you. This wasn't about roasting Michael Phelps. He in no way deserves that. Look at what he's done. Carrying the American Flag in his first opening ceremonies in his fifth Olympics. He is living proof that, as your world crumbles around you, you can rebuild. If you fight hard enough, you could be on the top of the podium too.
11/6/2022 09:46:29 pm
Great reeading your post
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Danielle Barilla is a graduate of the University of South Carolina currently living in Myrtle Beach where she works as a television news producer. As lover of game 7s and Olympic golds, she often roots for the underdog, which comes natural to her as a Charlotte sports fan. However, her New York/championship roots show through when she cheers for the Yankees. She loves binge watching sitcoms and teen dramas on Netflix, eating Asian food and getting too aggressive over SEC football.