I used to compete in whitewater kayaks. I guess I was decent, maybe even pretty good, considering I had no actual river to practice on. I really, really hated it, though.
What's strange is that I liked most aspects of it. I liked my team, and I liked traveling to different rivers. I like the athleticism; I liked challenging myself and improving. I liked that my dad liked that I did it. Whenever I won a medal, I could tell that he was actually proud. The one thing I loathed was the water.
Of course, I realize the irony in this; Mr. Kayak racer is afraid to get wet. But it remains true that I was always afraid of the water. I don't know why, either. My family has taken me to the beach and on canoeing trips since I was an infant. After all, my parents and sisters loved it. So naturally, they where sure to include me in the fun, starting at age 13.
That was the year my dad started kayaking lessons at the lake. I did not take kindly to these lessons. You see, the first thing you do in a kayak is learn to flip over. Having your legs trapped in a boat while floating upside down is not the most enjoyable activity if you don't have an affinity for water. I did not have an affinity for water.
Over the years, as I took on increasingly difficult whitewater, I learned to hide my anxiety. It was easy when I was racing; any nervousness could be pinned on the competition aspect. I was never comfortable on the water, but I kept doing it anyway. So last year, when I turned seventeen, I was pretty good.
Last summer was kind of a long story, and I've rambled enough for one night. But, to put it in very short terms, I quit racing. And I thought it was permanent. But if my dad is serious about his threat, I might be suiting up next summer to try out for the national senior team. And that thought makes me want to literally kill something.