Contract at my job that is...Yes, today marks the first day I am a free agent at my job and am no longer a salaried employee. It's a turning point in my eight year history as an instructional designer, as it signifies that i am committed to my new career of bicycle racing. I suppose it's also a turning point in my life. For the first time since I can remember I am venturing into something that is unstable in the sense that the risk factor is huge.
Thus far my life has consisted of the following:
High School: Trained and studied to get a full scholarship to college--where i was going to be a doctor and go to the olympics for running. NEGATIVE! But I did run through college and get a degree!
3 days after graduation...
Graduate school: Studied and taught classes to support myself with the hopes of getting a high-powered job with a Master's in English. NEGATIVE! I did earn my degree though and learned the fine art of creative writing.
2 weeks later....
Job offer! Moved to Chicago and began working in the e-learning business as a writer and instructional designer.
Fast forward 3 years...
Moved to Seattle to continue working as an instructional designer and pursue my love of the outdoors.
Fast forward 3 years to June 2009.
Entered my first road race--the Ballard Criterium. I was hooked.
Fast forward to the present...
I'mreceiving my first calls from pro-team directors, talking about my intentions for racing next year, my history as an athlete, and my potential in the future on their teams.
I'm not much of a risk taker when it comes to my livelihood. I pay my bills on time, budget out every penny, and make spreadsheet after spreadsheet mapping out how I'm going to pay off my debts. The scouting phone calls were what I needed to seal the deal for me to treat cycling as my career rather than my hobby. Sure this means I'm going to be penny-pinching and begging for work when I'm available, but it's also going to mean harder training, more naps, maybe some weight lifting? Tomorrow I'm celebrating my new career by spending what used to be my 9-5 work day, riding to Snoqualmie Falls rather than at a desk. What used to be work is now going to be my hobby and cycling will by my career. (I've said it three times now, I know. But it's still a bit unreal!)
It's all so exciting. I remember last winter, I sheepishly told people that I was training to be a pro cyclist. Some high-fived me, some laughed, some half-smiled thinking I was delusional, some jumped up and down with me in support. I knew inside I could do it. Sure, I was scared of failing, of making a fool of myself by blurting my dreams out loud, but I knew if I didn't go after it, I would regret it every day and come up with a million excuses for why the stars weren't aligned for me.
Now, looking back those 20 hour weeks in November, and those date nights with Jake consisting of 4+ hour rides after work in the dark and rain don't seem quite so terrible now. The memories of those hill repeats after 9-hour work days or the 2x20's or the irritability, the crying, the fear, the stress all have slowly disappeared.
All I can think of now is what is to come in the future and how I am going to prepare myself today. I'm right where I envisioned myself to be, with opportunity knocking on my door.
July 2010 begins a new chapter for me. I'm looking forward to going to a party next year so that when someone asks the standard, cliche party question, "What do you do for a living?" I'll be able to smile excitedly and say, "Oh me? I'm a pro cyclist."