A year ago today, my teammates and I stood on the Olympic platform before the world, recognized as champions. The feeling was incredible, phenomenal, and unexplainable. We had worked extremely hard to get to that place. We were united, though from different walks in life, contrasting lifestyles, and diverse philosophy. When we fell, we picked each other up and carried each other. The Deaflympics were brutal, bloody, painful, but glorious. I walked away with more confidence and pride in myself, my teammates, my coaches, and my country. I will never forget.
Today, as I sit in my classes, listen to my professors lecture about philosophy, media, and society; I yearn to be back in Taiwan, celebrating with my teammates, feeling on top of the world. I really do miss it. The realization of a dream happens in the blink of an eye. It lasts a moment and then it’s gone, part of the past. A lifetime of training and sacrifices were confined into this one moment. What a life changing moment it was. I look at the world differently, I see myself differently, I observe people differently. That day changed me forever. On September 14, 2009 I had done two things, I achieved my dream and I destroyed my dream. No one ever thinks about what happens after the dream is accomplished. We always think about getting there and being happy once the journey is over. We definitely do not think about what happens afterwards.
The aftermath was, in short, confusing for me. I had lost myself; I did not know what to dream about anymore. The Olympic dream took over my life. I had sacrificed everything for it and did not think about what to do after. I still don’t know what my new dream is. It is perplexing; I don’t know what to sacrifice for, why to live, how to create a new dream. It is all new to me and I ache for that moment of clarity and achievement I had in Taiwan with my teammates.
The gold medal currently sits in my room, on my desk, safe in its wooden box, collecting dust. The pictures have become permanently imprinted in my mind, every time I close my eyes, I see the smiling faces of my wonderful teammates celebrating, crying and laughing. Don’t get me wrong, life after Taiwan has been amazing. Studying abroad expanded my horizons so much more and I would never trade any of my experiences for a billion dollars. But nothing beats the Olympic dream I spent 21 years chasing.
I never imagined the glorious feeling I would share with my teammates, we are forever linked because of that. Though we have been apart for a year now, I still carry them in my heart and hope for a happy reunion in the near future.
A year ago today, my team and I smiled proudly with tears and sweat streaming down our faces as we watched the flag rise, what a powerful moment.
I miss you Team USA 2009!