Collegiate Nationals, 2014

If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right.

When I began my quest for being a professional athlete, in the fall 2013, I hardly told anyone what I was doing.  Yes, people knew I was active, swam in college, and that I did a triathlon on occasion, but besides my parents and coach, no one knew my biggest desire to become a professional triathlete.  Saying dreams out loud is scary, the fear of failure and criticism can be overpowering.

One of my sister’s best friends (conveniently who has the same first name as me… man those Valerie’s are ruling the world ;)), works for Zingerman’s (iconic local deli and gourmet foods store) in Ann Arbor, MI.  One of the things Zingerman’s trains and encourages its employees to do, is to write a mission statement… and share it.

I realized I had a mission statement, but I was too afraid to share it.  Over the next few months, instead of avoiding questions about my goals and intentions with triathlon, I embraced those moments as opportunities to share my mission statement.  I realized that in doing so, I did not receive criticism, but instead love, support and encouragement.

1.5 years later, I achieved what I first set out to do.  In light of trying not to make the same mistake twice, (something I’m working on), I share with you my next mission:  Make the 2020 Olympic Team on behalf of Belgium.

Using this blog as my platform, I am to stay natural, clean, and true to myself (no promises about unfiltered photos though).  I aim not to brag, but rather encourage those around me.  In return, I hope others have the trust to share their dreams and aspirations, big or small.

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