I’m usually not one to get all sappy about a certain date or anniversary. But there’s one that I have to touch on as it has made such a dramatic difference in my life. I’ve been shooting archery for 3 years now, and little did I know, 3 years ago, that walking into the range would make such a big change in my life.
Most people talk about how the first time they shot an arrow, they were hooked. They just knew that they had a natural talent and wanted to keep chasing that. No, my first experience wasn’t like that.
I started archery because I needed a PE credit for high school. My district had a list of approved off-campus agencies that students could get their PE credit from and it just so happened that there was an archery range near my house. The timing was odd. I was just starting my second semester of sophomore year in high school. This was not the time to throw a sport into the mix. But I did. Starting January 2017, 4 days a week, I was at the range. And for the first 6 weeks, I absolutely did not want to be there.
4 months in, I became a certified instructor. Being an instructor has benefits to my own shooting. I’m able to speak from first hand experience to why something should be done a certain way and understand my students better.
9 months after beginning (September 2017), I tried out for the competitive team that was affiliated with the range I was shooting at. I got on! I was shooting 5-6 days a week, 8-10 hours a week. My entire life was training. And on top of that, I was coaching and was the office administrator for the range I was shooting at. Long story short, I was put in charge of the day-to-day operations of the range and were coaching several of the classes. I was working 10-15 hours a week.
However, being on that competitive team was not the best experience that I had. This was my first outdoors season and it was not enjoyable. My coach was too score oriented, kept changing my form every lesson, and on top of that, did not seem to understand that I had other things outside of archery. This really messed with my mental aspect as I became wired to believe that scores was all that mattered. I was upset whenever I made a form change, and I didn’t immediately see my score go up. Rather, my scores continued to drop. I went to outdoor nationals, did not shoot well, and came home contemplating whether or not I wanted to continue the sport. I ended the season with a pretty bad shoulder injury as a result of going up in draw weight way too quickly. I was in pain and the expectations that they coach had for me were not realistic. I would only continue to get more hurt.
In September 2018, a year after becoming competitive, I made the decision to leave the team. It wasn’t the supportive atmosphere that I needed to continue competing, and it was the end of that outdoors season. I had officially completed a full year on the competitive circuit. The archery world was coming to a slow down as people started to transition into the indoor season, and I decided to take a break.
I realized that the people I was shooting with were some of my best friends and I didn’t want to leave them, but some changes had to happen soon. It made sense, I was starting my senior year of high school and needed to put my time and focus into college applications. Some of the people that I was on the team with had started their own non-profit range on the other side of town and I coached with them. I coached a few of their Explore Archery events that semester, but put my focus entirely into school. I had a bale set up at home, and once as week, I’d shoot a couple dozen arrows just for the fun of it. I realized that the biggest change was that I had lost the spark of what made archery enjoyable. I still shot a couple of indoor tournaments, but I didn’t care about score. I shot them because I wanted to and because it made me happy.
Starting the year in 2019, college apps were done, and I suddenly had a lot more time on my hands. I started making the hour drive once a week to the range across town. I’d spend all day there, coaching a few classes and then shooting.
That summer, I spend 3-4 days a week at the range, coaching, hanging out with friends while shooting, and training for the outdoors season. I think I coached over 500-600 new archers over the summer. This was my first season in the junior division (17-20 year olds). I didn’t have a coach, I had no one to report to and I loved that. I was shooting because I wanted to and I was competing because it made me happy. I was out at the field shooting alongside a couple of friends everyday. I went to SoCal Showdown at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista and was able to visit where the Resident Athletes train. During eliminations, I put up a fight and was able to gain a few points in my match, rather than straight up losing. I placed first at State with some of my highest scores of the season. I was literally at home for a total of 36 hours before leaving to go to Outdoor Nationals and did a little better than the previous year. I became better friends with people on the competitive circuit. I’ve made friends from around the country and some of my closest friends are from different states. Even when I’m not feeling up to shoot at a tournament, there are some that I go compete at anyways just to see these friends.
As college started, I put archery on the back burner for a little bit. I didn’t shoot in Dallas for the first month that I was there, just giving myself the time to adjust. I shot whenever I went home, and still competed in a national tournament. Eventually, I joined the UTD Archery club, and made friends at the local range there. I finished off the outdoors season with Texas Shootout, hosted at Texas A&M and this was my first solo trip to a tournament. I crashed on the couch of a friend and we went out to A&M’s practice field a few times and let me tell you, they have a nice range out there. This was not my best shooting but I also didn’t have much time to train. I highly contemplated not going, but in the end, this tournament was the one that allowed me to end up nationally ranking 39th in my division.
This is the first indoors season where I’ve been able to see actual progress. My shots are finally breaking correctly and I feel confident when I’m shooting. Confidence was something that I had been missing for a long, long time. My scores are where they should be and I can finally see that the work I’ve put in is showing results. I can feel confident in my shots and know that even if the arrow doesn’t land in the middle, I’m executing the steps of shooting correctly. I shot a tournament hosted by my home club, and was able to post the highest scores I’ve ever shot in an indoors tournament, and took first in both qualifications and eliminations, even though I was shooting up a division. Eliminations was a double elimination bracket and I shot every possible match that was possible and ended up on top. This was the best way to start indoors season for me. It gave me a concrete point that I could look back on and see that I’ve made progress and that it was possible for me to win.
It’s been 3 years of this and I have no plans to stop now. I know my life is going to get more crazy from here, and there may be seasons that I don’t compete at all, but I know archery will still be in my life, one way or another. All that matters is making sure that shooting still makes me happy.
As I’m writing this, I’m sitting at home in Austin, and just reflecting on what the heck happened in the last 3 months. I’m a semester done with college already and it doesn’t feel real. So much has happened but I’m still pinching myself to make sure I really lived through it.
I started the semester absolutely hating where I was and wanted nothing more than to transfer. I didn’t care where, I just knew that I didn’t want to stay where I was. However, after a couple of difficult phone calls, it just wasn’t possible. I was given a range of advice, from “suck it up and just deal with being here” to “you know, community college isn’t a terrible option” to “taking a gap year could be a good indicator of what you want to do.” Ultimately I chose to suck it up and deal with being at UTD. But I made myself a deal. Since I was going to be stuck in Dallas for at least the semester, I was going to make the best of it. I would take advantage of all the opportunities that I had there, and have no regrets by the time finals rolled around in December.
This semester has been a rollercoaster of emotions. I’ve felt completely alone, sitting in my dorm room. I’ve cried myself sick, from feeling like a failure, being homesick, missing friends that were across the country, not being able to be there for my little brother’s first band concert and missing my sister’s last marching competition of the season and her making history as our high school’s youngest drum major. Though, I can say with confidence that I never cried because of academics, which is a big change from high school. Academics was the one thing that I knew I could succeed in. Even in a competitive grading scale, where your grade was relative to everyone else’s in the class, I’ve managed to come out on top. My study habits are still in complete shambles (meaning I still don’t know how to study efficiently) but I’ve managed to pull it together for specific classes. The classes that I never thought I’d enjoy ended up being the ones that I look forward to every week. I’ve connected with professors and learned to enjoy taking the time to visit office hours and talk about things that aren’t strictly academic specific.
From countless rejections to a few hard-fought wins, I’ve grown so much. I put myself into countless situations that I usually would not have ever gone for and taking those risks has allowed me to experience so much. I’ve put all my heart, time and energy into a specific organization, only to get nothing in return. I’ve volunteered for things at the last minute and have been really happy to have done so. I’ve become more involved with things on campus, in the things that matter to me.
I still did the things that made me happy. I took my first solo trip to an archery tournament this semester. I’ve spent countless hours at the local range, making new friends and training to continue making myself better. I’ve driven for more than an hour to shoot a local tournament, and have been the only recurve at a tournament full of compounds. It’s taken me almost 3 years to reach this point, but I’m finally confident at the range.
Something that I’ve been contemplating a lot is whether the friendships that I’ve made are genuine. Already I feel like I’ve lost touch with many of my high school friends. In college, I’ve met so many new people but it doesn’t feel like they’re real friends. I’ve been lucky enough to have my tight-knit group of friends that I know are for real, but things happen in college all the time for friends to drift apart. I’m scared of that because I really do love these friends. But especially being in the business school, we are being trained to always network. Ask anyone, and the number one thing they will tell you is the importance of networking. It’s not about what you know, that can all be supplemented later on, but who you know. I can’t tell if some of the friendships I’ve made are purely for networking purposes.
Regardless, I’m grateful for everyone that I’ve had the chance to meet and get to know. I ended this semester having learned so much about myself and I feel like I have no major regrets (there are always small things I would’ve done differently but in the holistic view of things, I’m happy with what I did). I’ve learned to enjoy being at UTD and making the best out of what I have.
The best part of being home? Being able to sleep in my own bed. And being able to just spend time relaxing, even though finals are coming up real quick.
I ended up going home a couple of days later than I had originally planned on, simply because there were so many things that I needed to wrap up on campus as the semester was beginning to end. As soon as we get back from Thanksgiving break, we have a week of classes and then finals! It’s a little scary to think that I’m almost done with my first semester of college!
During the week, I met up with a group of my archery friends and it was nice to just catch up and play some mini-golf, though we did give up on minigolf halfway through. 2 of us were back in town from college and we ended up meeting up with another friend that we hadn't seen in over a year. They are the reason I miss Austin so much and the reason I still love the sport. Most of us came from the same training background so it’s always fun to reminisce on how bad that experience was and what we wished we could do differently. But we don’t just talk about archery. Because there’s such a big range of ages (there’s a 5-year gap between the youngest and the oldest of the group), it’s always fun to talk about school, relationships and whatever else comes up in our conversations.
My family didn’t really have any plans for Thanksgiving so I just looked up some easy baked dishes to make for dinner. I ended up making a baked ziti and baked mac and cheese. Let’s just go with it was good but no one should eat too much of it because it was sooooo much cheese. I’ve never been one to cook, mainly because I haven’t had the chance to yet. But if it involved putting things into the oven, I’m all for it!
At the last minute, I got invited to go to the Renaissance Faire that was in Houston with a group from the archery range on Friday. This was surprising to me because I agreed to go without actually knowing any details about where we were going (I didn’t realize it was in Houston until halfway through the drive there!) and what was going on that day. The main reason a bunch of us all went was that we’re friends with one of the vendors at the Faire and we wanted to go support them. I had never gone to the Renaissance Faire before and this was cool to go and experience. There are so many people dressed up and it was fun to see all the medieval stuff that the shops were selling.
The week went by way too fast and way too soon, it was time to get in my car and drive back to Dallas. The drive between Austin and Dallas is starting to get repetitive and I dread getting on I-35 every time. Somehow as it gets colder, people are less capable of driving. But the semester is almost over and I’ll get to be home for a longer amount of time!
The one thing that is lacking in this post is all the things I’m thankful for. There is so much this year that I am thankful for, and I like to think that I express that gratefulness often enough that I don’t have to save it for a specific day to say it.
So it’s been a hot minute since I’ve done anything on here. But let’s do a quick recap of how my freshman year is going.
My classes are all pretty easy and fun, so academically I’ve been able to take a breather, especially after the intensity of high school.
Emotionally, I had a pretty rough first 3 weeks. I missed home like crazy, and rarely left my dorm room. I spent a lot of time crying, and went through quite a few boxes of tissues. I’m driving back home almost every 2 weeks and I’m glad to still have a job at CTA. I love my CTA family and being on the field is one of my favorite ways to spend time in Austin.
I went to my first football game. No, don’t worry, UTD doesn’t have a football team. Instead, I went to the first LBJ football game to watch Amanda and the band. I’m not one to care about football. I literally went just to watch the band. I’m amazed to see how much they’ve been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time.
I joined the UTD archery club. Granted, it’s still growing, but I’m glad that I’m able to get out to the range at least once a week and shoot. It’s not much, but I love the sport and I’m glad I get to continue it on my own.
I turned 18. Finally, I can sign all my own waivers and stuff. However, that did mean that I had to go renew my drivers license, so one of the Fridays that I had at home was spent at the DPS. Not the best way to spend a Friday in Austin, but at least I got that done.
I’ve spent way too many nights staying up and studying, and hanging out with friends. Like way too many nights. But these are the nights that I am going to remembers. Usually, we give up studying around 1-2am and then spend another 2 hours just talking about life, watching random youtube videos, and just spending time together.
Last weekend I made my first trip alone. Granted, it was only a 3 hour drive to College Station, but it was a pretty big deal for me since it was also the 4th USAT of the season, as well as the 2nd stage of the Olympic Team Trials. I’m so grateful for my friends, especially Hannah for letting me crash on her couch and introducing me to her archery friends and letting me tag along to shoot at the A&M field, and crashing her team dinner. This is the reason why I still shoot. I’ve met some incredibly amazing people through this sport and some of them are my best friends now.
Today, I finally got my hair highlighted by the amazing Marisol at Ulta, and I love it so much. It’s different from the previous times that I’ve colored it. It’s now more caramel/brown highlights and more subtle. It’s amazing and I’m so glad that I took the chance today to go get that done. Seriously, I’ve been waiting for like 4 months to change up my hair, and thought that since I just wrapped up outdoor season, I’d do something. (I usually cut/change my hair after a big tournament.)
I’ve taken 2 midterms, survived lots of boring lectures, made some friends that I really enjoy spending time with, and overall, really been able to adjust to college here. I don’t think that Dallas will ever truly become home, but I’m happy with the adjustment that I’ve made.
I think that’s a pretty brief recap of what’s been going on. Time to get back to studying!
Real talk, I don't know what I'm doing right now. This post is just a bit of the rambling and I have going on through my head.
I'm in that weird phase of my life, where I really don't have any direction of what I want to do. I've graduated high school. Yea, cool, a huge accomplishment I guess (I'll talk more about the value of a high school diploma in relation to how I was raised in a later post). I've been accepted into a wonderful 4-year university and am set to attend in the fall. But at the same time, I just want to stay in this moment forever.
So far this summer, my days have comprised of waking up rather later in the day, doing a little bit of work on my computer, then heading to the archery range for the majority of the day. I've spent most of my time at the range, whether it's coaching, shooting, or just hanging out. I feel like all of my friends are the people at the range, and the field feels more like home than home actually does at the moment. I've done the things to make myself enjoy life a little bit more. I've eaten that piece of cake, gone to that event, hung out with people, and made decisions that weren't as carefully calculated as I usually would. I've said the words that's made me vulnerable and have gotten shut down and rejected. I've put myself out there. There hasn't been a structure. For the first time, I've gotten to enjoy my summer the way that I want to.
At the same time, I feel the impending doom of summer ending. I have just under a month left before I leave Austin and make my move to Dallas. There's the fear of how I will manage living alone, in a new environment. I just want to stay in this exact moment. I just want to hit pause.
It’s May 1st, so you know what that means, it’s the national day of college decisions. I am excited to announce that I will be attending the University of Texas at Dallas to study Information Technology and Systems, with the Academic Excellence Scholarship that covers a full tuition as well as gives me a stipend each semester. I’m excited to see where this next chapter of my life takes me!
Before I start, here's something that you should know, I shoot archery. Now that you know that, please continue reading:
Putting it bluntly, Indoor Nationals was not what I have hoped for. I struggled, and my mental and physical strengths were put to the test.
I came into this weekend not prepared at all, and with a desire to not be there. I love indoor nationals because of all the people I see there, people I only ever see at tournaments, so it wasn't a shoot that I really wanted to skip, but in terms of shooting, I was not ready. I hadn't shot the 2 weeks leading up to it, and I wasn't entirely sure of my equipment. Nonetheless, I sucked it up, and got into A&M late Friday night, just 12 hours before I had to shoot the next day.
Saturday was okay, I pretty much shot my average from SYWATs this season. I had some good shots, but my main struggle was with the clicker. I just couldn't get into the rhythm of shooting, and my draw arm started to hurt very quickly, a sure indicator that I was not drawing back with the correct muscles. I loved my balemates, they made shooting fun and a little easier. I spend the rest of the day watching the JOAD line, and coaching one of the students I used to coach through her first ever indoor nationals. Sunday was a little worse, score wise. My shots were feeling good, I got a little bit of my rhythm back, and I was shooting with the clicker, but the scores just weren't translating how I was shooting. I survived, and that was the end of my second Indoor Nationals, and my first season as a Junior.
The one thing that I had no problems with was my equipment. I didn't have to worry about my sight or stabilizers coming loose, or anything to be wrong with my riser or limbs. That just goes to show that good equipment is really necessary, and I have full trust in it.
This entire indoor season wasn't what I planned or wanted. I had shoots scheduled for almost every weekend, whether they were SYWATs or larger tournaments. I followed through with it for 2 months, before college apps, music and school work hit, and I had to redirect some of my energy. This was also my first season shooting without the help of a coach, simply because it wasn't fair for whoever was working with me to have to deal with my insane school schedule. I shot blankbale inside my house whenever I could, and that was about it. The rest was just hoping for the best.
My other option was to take a break for this season. That was going to be my last resort, in fear that if I took a break, I would never come back. I wanted to return for this upcoming outdoor season, and in order to do that, I needed something to keep me going. Do I regret anything this past indoor season? Certain aspects, yes. I wish I spent a little more time training. I wish I went out to the range to shoot the full 18m a few more times. But I was able to accomplish everything else I needed to do, while keeping up in this sport. So, no. I don't regret shooting this indoor season.
Now it's time to look forward to outdoor season. Many more changes are coming, and I'm excited to spend some time out on the field.
Rejection sucks. There, I said it. It’s out there now. Can’t take it back.
No, but seriously, rejection hurts so much. Being in the college application stage where all I can do now is sit and wait for results, I have to mentally prepare myself for the rejections I’m bound to receive. Having already received a few, I’ve experienced the devastating crush of reading “We’re sorry to inform you” and it doesn’t get any easier.
I know I set myself up by applying to so many top tier schools. But on the other hand, would I rather feel regret in 6 months, wondering what if?? At least by applying and getting a rejection, I know that for sure, they didn’t want me. Wondering what if might be even worse.
Is it bad for me to stay emotionally unattached to a school? To protect me from feelings later on. But does that show that I’m uncommitted? I don’t mean for it to come across that way. I’ve very interested in each of these schools and I’d be happy and would excel at any one of them.
Each time, it is worse and worse. Each rejection is another door closing. Another option is gone. Poof! Just like that, my pool of options diminishes. Leaving me with less time to look for more options. Hoping that deadlines haven’t passed.
Pretty much, moral of this is, no matter how many times I have to read those 5 words, there are always other things coming my way, and it’s not the end of the world. Somehow, through all the disappointment and the heartbreak, I’ll find something that I’m happy with.
My only hope is by the end of all this, I’ll find the school that I want, and they want me back.
365 days of endless possibilities. This is the year of ME. An open road with only myself to figure out where to go.
So many things are happening this year. I’m graduating. Finally leaving the public school system that I’ve been in for so many years. This also means, that I’m leaving behind friends, and other friends are surpassing me to go to bigger and better schools, thousands of miles away.
This is also the year of the unknown. It won’t be until May that I know where I’ll be in September. And even then, there is a lot of uncertainty. Who will I be rooming with? What major am I going to be studying? What classes will I have? What city will I be in? Am I going to be fine without my parents? And the friends that I’ve counted on for years. Even right now, there are quite a few people that have committed to schools, and they have their next 4 years planned out. This makes me a little nervous, it’s such a big decision and I still haven’t heard back from many of my schools. Additionally, I would be leaving the safety I’ve had for the past 7 years of school and routine.
Along with that, there’s also archery goals. As much as I want to put more time and effort toe the sport, I have a feeling that archery and competing is going to be taking a backseat for this year, at least while I’m finishing senior year. There are a couple of tournaments that I really want to go to, but as of right now, I don’t know how feasible that is.
With the amount of work that I’ve put into graphic design last year, I’m finally going to take the plunge and start my own freelance business. Along with that, I want to put myself out there and apply to graphic design positions with local agencies. This has potential for a lot of rejection, but I will never know if I don’t try.
I’m willing to give it my all, and see where I end up.
This year is unwritten, blank pages of a book left for me to fill in the blanks. I have ambitions for this year, and plan to fill every page with memories and accomplishments.