New Beginnings

Growing into an adult often makes me long for the good ole days of being a naïve little kid who’s biggest worry was whether or not the neighborhood kids were home to play. But at the same time, the transition also continues to me lead towards more impactful experiences that leave me dumbfounded and overwhelmed with a profound appreciation and newly discovered love for this journey we call life. 

Backtracking to beginning of this past year, 2018 did not get off to a great start for me. Just one semester in to my postbac premed program, an unimpressive academic performance resulted in me getting released from the program. Not the most ideal way to ring in the New Year! For a brief moment, I felt my dream of becoming a physician was over; but I have amazing people in my life who propelled me forward to forge a different path to lead me to my end goal. At first I was embarrassed and avoided telling people the actual reason behind the change in my academic plans. Now, I appreciate the switch because it reminded me that life does not always go as planned and I have to be ready to adjust accordingly. It also showed me how to own my struggle. It was the wake up call I did not know I needed. 

When I graduated from college in the spring of 2017, I convinced myself I accepted the fact that my identity no longer included being a competitive collegiate athlete. That was a lie. The truth is that I did not want to admit to myself I did not know who I was without the sport that had become such an instrumental part of my life. So this year I opened myself up to new opportunities and experiences. Some of the big ones:

I ran my first series of 5k’s with some friends

I returned to my beloved alma mater for my 5-year high school reunion

I backpacked around Italy with an old friend and teammate

I spent the summer as a residential proctor for high school students and made new, wonderful friendships with other proctors

I joined a gym that has profoundly impacted my life, and is filled with people who influence me to consistently put my best foot forward in all that I do

I witnessed one of my best friends pay tribute to one of her biggest fans who may have been one of the brightest, most fashionable, and supportive women to grace the earth

I flew across the country with a life-long friend just for a weekend to go on some memorable adventures and see important people in our life

I celebrated my 24th birthday reconnecting with family whose ability to bring the fun with them wherever they go is nothing short of incredible 

I watched one of my best friends receive her one-year chip for her relentless determination and commitment to sobriety 

2018 was a big year for me in every possible way physically, emotionally, mentally. I learned how to put my own needs first so I could be more present and supportive to those around me. I learned to own my struggles. I came to terms with no longer being a competitive collegiate athlete. I was reminded countless times that there is nothing more important than the people in your life. I’m currently sitting at my assigned gate awaiting a flight to Spain to embark on my next big adventure, and the first of 2019, with a heart overflowing with gratitude. I feel so gosh darn lucky to be here, doing the things I love, discovering new passions, and being surrounded and supported by so many incredible, loving, influential people who inspire me to never stop learning, and never stop growing.

Happy New Year to all, and may it be filled with love, kindness, and fun surprises.

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About the Author

Briana Mastel

Briana is a former Division 1 women’s ice hockey player finding new passions away from the rink. She is currently focusing on applying to medical school and enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with family and friends. She received her degree in Psychology with a minor in Spanish language, and is an avid supporter of mental health awareness, spreading kindness, and being a role model.