Letting go of control
G’day! My name is Kurt Tropiano and I recently felt the push to start writing about my experiences. In sharing my recent self-discoveries, I hope that it may help guide others along their paths, in whatever capacity. My sharing comes from my heart.
What I am about to share with you has been one of the biggest learning’s in my life thus far and it came about earlier in the year. I am very grateful that it has happened as it has caused a great shift in the way I look at life and my ability to help others; most importantly, it has brought me to where I am presently.
From November 2015 to January 2016, I had the privilege of living in Phoenix and working at Altis, a high performance training center for track and field athletes, as a strength and conditioning coach intern. For 3 months I was in absolute joy, loving every day I was there. I fostered strong connections with the athletes, coaches, and interns, as well as others I met during my time. In my time there, I was well-liked and had a strong impact on many people in a variety of ways; needless to say, it was tough to say goodbye and return home to Australia.
Due to the connections I made and the impact I had in Phoenix, I was flying on top of the world. Once I finished my internship, I assumed that I would simply slide into a strength and conditioning job at a professional sporting club somewhere around the world and continue on my way. This turned out not to be the case. What came next was the constant closing of doors at every turn I made. I reached out and exhausted every connection and contact I had that might lead to a career opportunity. I had approximately 15 jobs opportunities that fell through. These situations ranged from people contacting me to coach at their gym then not hearing from them again, to the possibility of working at an AFL club and that not emerging, to being told to get ready at a notice to go to China to work with the Chinese Olympic team and that falling apart. To make things tougher on my ego during this job search, I turned to working on the family farm with mum and dad, somewhere I thought I would never end up.
During this time I struggled not only professionally, but emotionally as well. As each opportunity slipped past, I felt heavier and heavier; whilst I wasn’t depressed, I was very flat and had a hard time finding the energy required to tackle day. I frequently felt pain in my heart, a longing to get back to how I felt at Altis, living in my element. It got to the point where mum looked me in the eye and told me, in no uncertain terms, to “get my shit together,” reminding me that we create our reality and I was the only one with the power to change what was going on in my world.
I was meditating daily, visualizing, writing down gratitude and listening to any motivational audiobook I could get my hands on to help me shift my mindset. The breakthrough came when I finally managed to control my thoughts, stopping them from running wild and guiding them to be consistently more positive. Controlling my thoughts settled everything down inside; from that came my first insight during this stage of my life. Slowing down my mind allowed me to identify that my ego was beating the hell out of myself! My ego kept whispering, “Kurt you did so well at Altis, you spent so much money, and gave up your job to go over there; what do you have to show for it now?” My ego jeered, “What would the coaches think at Altis that you can’t even get another job after the internship?”
This recognition of the ego was something I hadn’t experienced before. By acknowledging that it was there and seeing it for what it was, I recognized that it wasn’t serving me for a higher purpose. Through this acceptance, I watched it dissolve away. The effect of this was an instant release of negative pressure, which encouraged me that I was heading in the right direction.
After this realization, I continued to search for job opportunities over the following months, feeling far more positive. One day, I received an email from someone associated with Altis asking if I would be interested in working with the Chinese Olympic team. I didn’t give it a second thought, I was stoked that my hard work and months of searching had finally paid off. That night, I talked with him on Facetime about what the job would entail. The deal hadn’t been completed yet, though he reassured me that it would; I was told that I needed to start organizing visas and be on standby for the possibility of leaving at a moment’s notice. I left our conversation feeling optimistic for the first time in months. But then, days went by without hearing a thing. I would inquire and always get the same answer- things were still up in the air, they would contact me once they got word. Two-and-a-half weeks later, I received a short email stating that the deal had fallen through.
This was the turning point for me. I was so frustrated and disappointed, another seemingly promising opportunity lost. This, along with every other door, every single opportunity, had been shut in my face. In that moment, I just surrendered. Rather than becoming more disgruntled, I spoke to the universe, “Well it is clear I’m not supposed to be coaching right now, so I surrender. If this isn’t my path, show me where I am supposed to go.” And so became my mantra- take me to where I need to go.
Once I surrendered and decided to trust where the universe was taking me, the pressure I had been putting on myself slid away. I didn’t fully realize it at the time, but for the first time, I had chosen to be genuinely open to the possibility of something other than coaching. In doing so, I allowed myself to be guided in the direction life has for me.
Two days later I was filling up the truck with fertilizer, ready to start my 12-hour shift at the farm, when a thought popped into my head. My friend was going to work a summer camp in the U.S. That sounded like a hell of a lot of fun. Once those thoughts came in, I started feeling excited with the idea of the opportunity to positively impact kids life’s and travelling again. I knew had to try and make it happen. The only issue was that there was only a month until everyone was expected to arrive at camp, which was cutting it close to find a specific camp, be accepted and have a visa approved. But I thought if it was meant to be, it would sort itself out. And it did. When my friend’s camp didn’t have any places left, I decided to email others, but it was much the same story- it was too late in the process. Then, I got a message from a friend, and to keep a long story short, I got an interview at a summer camp, where I became the camp’s strength and conditioning counselor. We started the process in just enough time to have my visa arrive three days before I departed for the U.S. During my time at camp, I made connections with amazing people and reconnected with my inner child; I played and had fun like I had not in the previous months. I also made many self-discoveries that allowed me to grow and, in turn, hold a positive space for those around me. It was clear to me that I had been taken to where I needed to be.
This lengthy, five-month process showed me that we ultimately don’t have control over our lives. We can have direction and goals, but we must be willing to be flexible and to be guided; the universe has a higher plan that we must explore for whatever purpose that may be. This experience showed me how much easier life can be if we let go of the control we think we have and allow ourselves to be open to the many possibilities out there, no matter how far-fetched, and go with the flow of what presents itself.
I look forward to sharing my journey further.
Love and light.