“Imagine having a job where you’re always on duty, and can never fully relax or you just may drown,” he wrote. “Having to fight through waves and currents of praise and criticism, but mostly hate. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been called a ‘dumb —–.'”
Never thought I’d have much in common with a professional athlete, but these sentiments expressed by Arizona Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall in explaining his retirement at only age 26, have really struck an empathetic cord with me. Personally, I feel like I’ve gotten a helluva lot more praise than criticism over years (and the criticism I’ve gotten was mostly stupid), but still, I know the feeling. And it’s exhausting.
Mendenhall says he’ll travel the world and write, the first part of which I can’t do, because unlike him, I didn’t earn $2.5 million last year. But I do find his optimism and sense of adventure in the face of such a dramatic life change to be a bit inspiring:
“As for the question of what will I do now, with an entire life in front of me?” he wrote. “I say to that, I will LIVE! I plan to live in a way that I never have before, and that is freely, able to fully be me, without the expectation of representing any league, club, shield or city.
“I do have a plan going forward, but I will admit that I do not know how things will totally shape out. That is the beauty of it! I look forward to chasing my desires and passions without restriction, and to sharing them with anyone who wants to come along with me! And I’ll start with writing!”
Ah to be 26 years old with millions in the bank and your whole life ahead of you. Best of luck, Rashard.