Finding Yourself – Chris Spearman

I told myself I would never compete. I still tell myself everyday that I will never compete, that I can’t ever compete. Can I?

Three years ago this month, long before my PhD in Cancer Research was EVER on my mind, I came home from what was probably the best and most eye opening experience of my life. I had lived in California since I finished my term in university a few months earlier, gave up the love of my life (rugby) and as cliché as it is, I found myself.

Up until the moment I made the decision to up and leave everything I had known behind, I had been training twice sometimes three times a day praying for a professional rugby career. From the age of 14, I would wake at 6am every morning, get my plyometric sprints done, 45min or so, shower have breakfast and leave for the school bus. After school we had rugby training or athletics training, go home, get my homework/study done, have my evening meal and by 8pm I was out training various aspects of my game till I couldn’t train anymore. This was constant. Never ending. 7 days a week. Chasing a dream. 4-5years went by, skipping family holidays, birthdays, losing friends, relationships, fracturing those around me whom I loved. For what?

Don’t get me wrong I have some amazing memories, met some great friends and learned a lot from all of that. It put me through university after all, academy scholarship, expenses etc. but was it really worth it? Would I go back and change anything? Maybe, maybe not.

In California I found myself. I had been so wrapped up in “Chris Spearman the rugby player” and never really asked myself who I was as a person. Who I really was and what I wanted in life outside of that dream. A family? Career? No question about it, it was this self-preservation. A turbulent up bringing, difficult, abusive. Rugby was my way of losing myself, not thinking, not worrying about the environment I grew up in and just dreaming of an escape. Perhaps in some ways, the gym still is that for me, therapy.

I still remember the EXACT moment in California that I decided to give it all up, to start living my life for me. For my future, for my family and to make every moment count. I go to the gym for me. Would I considering going back into competitive sport? Step on stage and see what its like? I don’t know. Am I still hurting after not making it Pro in rugby? Probably. Do I regret all the hours I put in, the friends I lost and the childhood I left behind? Probably. What I do know is, if I ever step on stage, it will be for me. Nobody else, no other reason other than because it is what I want to do. Not to “qualify” or to win but for the experience. I want to enjoy what I have left of my youth and most of all, I’ve found something outside the lab and my PhD that I love, and there is no way I will run the risk of destroying that too.


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