When I Grow Up

When you would have asked 9 year old Alyssa what she wanted to be when she grew up, she probably would have said something like “orthopedic surgeon” (thanks to the amazing Doctor who fixed my broken arm!), or “a lawyer” (probably because I watched a lot of People’s Court – it was on before the Price is Right at 11). Basically anything that involved a lot of school, a lot of effort, and a lot of time. I was dreaming big, important career dreams. Even through college, when I realized I didn’t actually want to spend any more time in school than necessary, I was looking at jobs that would require long workweeks, and really “paying your dues” in the first years of your career to move up the ladder. Actuary, consultant, investment banker….these were what I gravitated towards for a career.

Nine year old Alyssa wouldn’t have said she wanted to be a professional triathlete.

But, 9 year old Alyssa was out in the backyard just about every day kicking the soccer ball around. She was out there jumping from the swing set, challenging the neighborhood boys to running races, and propping up a wooden beam on bricks so that she could pretend she was Dominique Dawes (her older sister was always Kim Zemeskle). Side note: don’t forget to put some bricks under the middle of the beam too. Otherwise you may find yourself breaking the wood in the middle of a split jump and the beam will be gone forever 🙁

Nine year old Alyssa – shoot, even twenty-two year old Alyssa – would never have thought that a future – let alone a career – as a professional athlete was possible, so she just didn’t entertain those thoughts.

It has taken me awhile to be comfortable with the fact that life isn’t always what you dream it will be like as a 9 year old. I don’t have a crazy job in consulting where I’m trying to run the corporate world – rather, I’m quite happy being somewhat low in the pecking order. I don’t have a master’s degree, let alone a PhD….nor do I have any intention of going back to school. It has taken me awhile to come to grips with the fact that my 25 hour training weeks are the long days in the office, even if that’s not what pays the bills right now. And that working my way to earning a pro card and racing with the elites is just as meaningful as spending these years working my way up to the corner office.

This is a hard perspective to keep when you do hear a lot of “I know you want to just workout all the time, but what do you really want to do for your career?” from the outside world. But once I realized it, I was able to look back at my past and see that I just might have been working for this from the very start – I just didn’t know it yet. And once I’ve realized that, I’ve found encouragement around just about every corner. From friends, to family, to the internets, the support and the encouragement is there.

You just have to open your heart, and mind, to it.

Published by Alyssa Godesky

Alyssa is a professional triathlete who has logged over 8,000 miles in competition of swimming, biking and running across five continents. She came to triathlon from an ultrarunning background and over the last few years has found success back on the trails: in 2018 she set the female supported Fastest Known Time (FKT) on Vermont's 273 mile Long Trail in 5 days, 2 hours and 37 minutes. In 2020 she set the women's supported FKT for climbing the 46 High Peaks in the Adirondacks in 3 days, 16 hours and 16 minutes. She is a triathlon and running coach, and also enjoys spending time guiding hikers out on the trails. Alyssa is based in Charlottesville, VA with her dog Ramona.

0 comments on “When I Grow Up”

  1. I think most people also don’t end up being astronauts and ballerinas. Life changes. It usually gets better. If you kept the same dreams and they never changed, you’d still be 9-years-old. But, you get to do so much more than when you were 9! Tell those people to be stupid.

  2. I think most people also don’t end up being astronauts and ballerinas. Life changes. It usually gets better. If you kept the same dreams and they never changed, you’d still be 9-years-old. But, you get to do so much more than when you were 9! Tell those people to be stupid.

  3. I love this post! Thanks Alyssa.

    Not because I have any desire (or physical ability) to be a professional athlete, but because it makes me feel better about where I am professionally – and not super hungry to relentlessly climb the corporate ladder.

    I’ve got a good salary and benefits and plenty of room to grow. But with that growth comes sacrificing a semi-normal schedule and the time and flexibility to do all the non-work things that I love.

  4. I love this post! Thanks Alyssa.

    Not because I have any desire (or physical ability) to be a professional athlete, but because it makes me feel better about where I am professionally – and not super hungry to relentlessly climb the corporate ladder.

    I’ve got a good salary and benefits and plenty of room to grow. But with that growth comes sacrificing a semi-normal schedule and the time and flexibility to do all the non-work things that I love.

  5. Props to you Alyssa for pursuing your dream. I wish you tremendous success. I do wonder how it’s possible to become a full-time triathlete. I think it is the most underpaid sport out there, which is truly unfortunate as it requires maybe the greatest sacrifices. It seems a lot of the pros have lucrative endorsements and/or side ventures to help keep them afloat, is this in the cards for you as well? Curious to see the ‘business’ side of things as well as following the training and results! Good luck.

  6. Props to you Alyssa for pursuing your dream. I wish you tremendous success. I do wonder how it’s possible to become a full-time triathlete. I think it is the most underpaid sport out there, which is truly unfortunate as it requires maybe the greatest sacrifices. It seems a lot of the pros have lucrative endorsements and/or side ventures to help keep them afloat, is this in the cards for you as well? Curious to see the ‘business’ side of things as well as following the training and results! Good luck.

  7. Follow your dreams, Alyssa! Money is not the only way to measure success in life. And, the “normal” job/career approach isn’t the only way to put food on the table.

    Do what you love and let the haters hate. Don’t listen to those critics because what they say has nothing to do with you. It has to do with the choices they’ve made for themselves. If you are comfortable with yourself and the choices you’ve made, you would not hate on someone else’s dreams.

    Get it, girl!!

  8. Follow your dreams, Alyssa! Money is not the only way to measure success in life. And, the “normal” job/career approach isn’t the only way to put food on the table.

    Do what you love and let the haters hate. Don’t listen to those critics because what they say has nothing to do with you. It has to do with the choices they’ve made for themselves. If you are comfortable with yourself and the choices you’ve made, you would not hate on someone else’s dreams.

    Get it, girl!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *