I remember very clearly during my secondary school year in Volos, Greece where I was born and grew up, the first class we did about philosophy, we got introduced to some of the greatest philosophers that have ever lived. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle started becoming my heroes at the age of 14. It was a completely new world that I felt so strongly and passionate to explore and learn. I felt that in a sense there is a place inside my soul that lives and breaths for examining ideas.
It was during the same time I had a lot on my plate as I was a beach volleyball player. While I was playing at a national level, we were gathering every year from all cities around Greece to select the two girls that would represent Greece abroad for international competitions. My coach had very high expectations from me and he was disappointed when I wasn’t giving my 120% in every training session as he insisted. Those high expectations made me feel pressured and also developed my desire to win and prove to myself and everyone else my worth – that’s how I was measuring worth at the time!
To make a long story short my beach volleyball career lasted about 5 years. From the age of 14yrs up to 19yrs when I left my country for pastures new. Those 5 years were full of frustration due to the high expectations that people had from me since my performance didn’t always match. I played countless times on a national final tournament in Greece, only to find my team at the second place, I hear you say that’s not bad. Well. that depends on your effort and capabilities, as I was giving 120% of myself and I was solely dedicated to win, the second place felt like a failure, especially because it happened more than 7 times in a row.
Through all those failures and disappointments, not to mention all the existential questions that I was going through as a teenager – philosophy was always my anchor. Every time I was frustrated about my failures, I would sneak to the nearest bookstore in Volos and start reading about sports psychology or existentialism as I was trying to find strong enough reasons to continue fight through all the struggles and pain of failure I was experiencing. Quitting was never an option for me, I was going to hit my goals first no matter what- then maybe quit.
And yes the day came – I hit my goal of getting the first place at a national championship in Greece twice in 2006, right after that my beach volleyball career ended and my priorities shifted forever. I had learned what I needed to learn and I was ready to move forward. However, I knew one thing, that I’m completely open to a new level of growth and philosophy will help me through whatever the level of the challenge maybe..
To be continued..
p.s. It feels very cathartic to share pieces of my soul with you here, thank you for reading and please share your thoughts.