I marveled at Simone Biles' composure a few weeks ago. Everyone knew that she would take the gymnastics world by storm again. She would effortlessly hurl herself through the air, twisting and flipping and sticking her landings. The Olympics seemed like her own stage for showing off.
But then her 24-year-old mind took a look at all the expectations. It's hard to be the G.O.A.T. The glare of the spotlight becomes blinding. Or maybe it shines light on the faint possibility of failure.
Routines can't be effortless when you are over-thinking. Biles said that she felt the weight of the world on her shoulders. What if she let down her team, her family, her coaches, her country? One false move could cause her whole world to collapse.
No wonder she hesitated.
You may not compete on the world's stage, but you probably feel the weight of your world on your own shoulders from time to time. Maybe you can buckle down and take the heat and rise to the occasion. Maybe you have done that many times. But the time may come when it's too much. The thrill is gone, the joy has become anxiety, the reward no longer worth it.
You want to step back, but you can't find the way to do it. What will people think? Who will step up when you step back?
You know the easy answers: It will all work out. Just have faith. Trust God. Say a prayer. Ask for help.
It all sounds easy, but it's not. We have to rethink, adjust our expectations, acknowledge our limitations. This may be the hardest work of all.
Cut yourself some slack. And while you're at it, cut somebody else some slack, too.
When Simone stepped back, Suni Lee stepped up to gold for the Americans. Maybe it will all work out.