Question of the Day

I’m debating with myself whether or not to quit coxing (at the end of the year of course, I would never quit midseason) and I was wondering if you could listen to my reasons and offer some advice?

1. Although I get incredible highs from coxing, I also get fucking awful lows. The lows aren’t beaten by the highs, I actually go into depression. I get really negative and self loathing.

2. It’s making me paranoid. I’m constantly paranoid about everything, other coxswains, coaches opinions, rowers opinions, and its driving me crazy.

3. Pressure. I feel this incredible pressure from everybody, everybody expects me to be this amazing cox but in reality I’m not, every time there’s a race I feel like I’m disappointing everybody, and however hard I’m trying to become better I feel like it’s not coming through.

4. Weight. I’m naturally about 92 lbs (or was last year) and everyone knows (coaches, rowers). Its become a source of teasing. Summer races are coming up, so I will need to weigh in. I’m paranoid that I’m going to be over and as a result of this I’m starting to cut down on how much I eat. My friends already say that I don’t eat enough but I’m just so worried I’ll be over.

I enjoy coxing, I enjoy winning (we rarely do though), I enjoy the training, I like the people, I like the coaches, I like the jokes. I’m just concerned about how this is affecting me psychologically, and making me this paranoid, negative person. Thank you.

When you’re involved in something, whether it be sports, a relationship, etc. and you start thinking all of that, it’s time to take a break. Not necessarily quitting but taking a pre-determined amount of time off to clear your head and look at things more rationally. Not that you’re being irrational right now, but when you’re consumed by something 24/7 you don’t look at it the same way as you do when your head is clear.

To address each of your reasons…

1. I’ve been in this position, so trust me, I get what you’re saying. I’ve definitely engaged in a little self-loathing behavior, especially if I get off the water knowing our practice didn’t got as well as it should have or that I could/should have done better. I try to never let myself get too low though because the last time I got to that point I completely walked away from rowing with no intent on ever returning. If you’re getting to the point where you’re actually experiencing depression-like symptoms, that’s not healthy and would definitely warrant taking some time away.

2. I think it’s OK to be a little paranoid but in the “aware of everything going on around you” sense, not the “conspiracy theory” sense, if that … makes sense. The opinions of the rowers and coaches are really important to me but I’ve definitely put more weight on them than they’re actually worth sometimes. The thing to keep in mind though is that you think about other people’s opinions of you way more often than they’re actually thinking about you. It’s good to care what they think but don’t dwell on it or try to find some hidden meaning in everything they say. Like you said, it starts to drive you crazy after awhile. If someone tells you good job, 99% of the time, they mean it. If someone asks you to do something differently, it doesn’t mean they hate you, think you suck, want you out of the boat, etc. They’re trying to think of ways to help the boat and obviously, as the coxswain, you are the catalyst for change, which is why they’re coming to you.

3. Most of the time, the pressure is a good thing. If you’re not feeling any pressure (the good kind) then where’s your motivation to get better? Unless people are pissed with you after a race, you made common sense mistakes that you know better than to make, etc. there’s no (or little) reason to feel like people are disappointed with you. People say “oh, don’t let the pressure get to you” but they tend to forget that the pressure we put on ourselves is way higher than most outside pressures. Sometimes though you do have to get away from everything so you can clear your head and alleviate not only the outside pressure but the pressure you’re putting on yourself too.

4. I hate when people tease you for your weight, regardless of whether you’re under, over, or at a normal weight. I weigh 95lbs and people make comments about it all. the. time. You don’t have to make negative comments about someone’s weight either for it to irritate them and most people don’t get that. You’re 18lbs under the minimum right now – being over it is not the end of the world. I’d venture a guess that about 85% of coxswains are over the minimum. For most people, it’s not realistic to weigh 110lbs – it’s definitely not realistic for me so I tend to not think about it. If you want to be the best coxswain for your boat, you have to take care of yourself. Don’t be that hypocritical coxswain who walks around preaching how the rowers need to do this and do that to be healthy yet look like a skeleton yourself.

If you have a good time and you enjoy the people you’re with, don’t let anything damper that. Based on #1 alone I’d say you definitely have cause for taking a break so if not rowing this summer is an option, I’d consider it. The summer is your time. For three months out of the year you aren’t in school, you aren’t obligated to any extracurricular activities, and you can do whatever you want. Don’t let your coaches or teammates guilt trip you into coxing this summer if you decide you want/need to take a break. If I was your coach, I’d tell you to take the time off and then come talk to me in August because – and don’t be offended by this – I don’t want someone coxing my boat who isn’t excited to be there, and right now you don’t sound excited about it.

Take the summer to clear your head completely before revisiting the idea of quitting. If you make the decision now it’ll be based more on all the feelings you’re currently experiencing instead of logical and rational thought, if that makes sense. The best comparison I can think of is when you break up with someone – the break ups that happen mid-argument always tend to be regretted in one way or another down the road vs. the ones that end after a mutual discussion and agreement. Sometime before school starts, look back on the spring and how you felt vs. how you feel now after having a break. You’ll either realize that you still feel the same way about coxing and maybe it’s best that you not do it anymore or you’ll feel rejuvenated and excited to get back on the water. Either way, the decision is completely yours and there is on right or wrong answer. Whatever you think is best for you is what you should do.

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