From Backstrokes To Slopes: Amanda Walsh and Pursuing Passion

From Backstrokes To Slopes: Amanda Walsh and Pursuing Passion

Cael Brennan

Senior, Amanda Walsh sits in the room wearing about a dozen different neon colors across her clothing. She’s armed with one of her essential pairs of vibrant crocs, a mask smeared with eye-catching decals, nails that hop from shade to shade across her fingers, and funnily enough is arguing to me that she is too uninteresting for an interview.

Walsh is one of the most earnest people I’ve ever met. As I expressed above, from her head to the wedges of her shoes she’s unabashedly devoted to pursuing her interests. Therefore, in the attempt to craft a piece that portrays how captivating the spirit of an individual is, I found Walsh to be the ultimate candidate as someone who has learned to be uninhibited by the disingenuous versions of themself.

This exposition reached its most illuminating point as we discussed her transition as a passionate member of the swim team into becoming a dedicated snowboarder. Due to a shoulder injury that developed into a condition, Walsh last year had to accept she could no longer comfortably swim for the high school. She describes the choice at the time to be an excruciating one to make as she states, “swimming was really one of the only things up until that point that I was like, wow, I’m good at this!” Although it was gratifying to perform well for her school, she recognized her happiness at the pool began to diminish.

“When I swam, I was all in. I loved everything about it,” she expands upon the phenomena, “as my chronic shoulder pain worsened, the things I loved about swimming became painful, and the passion dwindled away. I stuck with the sport for a little longer before wondering, ‘Why the heck am I still doing this?’ I realized I was wasting precious time doing something that I wasn’t passionate about anymore, and that was actually making me unhappy.”

Walsh had made her final decision but was determined to continue doing things she loved. Moreover, as the moodiness in the sky became comfortable and a new melancholy without swimming set in, Walsh sought out to fill that void. Piercing through the hefty cloud the swim team left in its wake, she began to look back upon an old activity that had once brought her a similar joy. With excitement, she stated, “I remembered how much fun I had snowboarding with the middle school’s ski and snowboard club. It was something that made me feel that similar sensation of being good at something that I also enjoyed.” 

Zipping down slopes, cascading across artificial snow, pulling out tricks, and achieving a resounding sense of empowerment being sometimes the only girl to use her local terrain park; became a new normal for Walsh. As she tells it the passion has enveloped much of her life today. Using her developed swimming skills she works hard as a lifeguard and instructor in order to achieve her “year-long effort.” That being the seasonal costs of consistent trips to the mountain, season passes, board equipment, etc.

Miraculously Walsh’s ability to set out new passions for herself connected with me more intimately than I had expected. Over the summer I seamlessly became disillusioned with writing. My most prized outlet and what I place at the utmost value had mutated into a chore. No longer inspired by my keyboard I had to reconnect with my lifelong passion for performing. Although it had been a few years since I felt sensational prancing in front of audiences and clamoring out words, it developed into a match that would reignite my love for literature. For just as Amanda utilized her skills in swimming to make snowboard season as rad as possible, I needed my leverage in performing to grant my creative writing the vision it needed.

As our interview began to conclude Walsh transformed her words into comforting encouragement for me. Jovially announcing, “I was able to realize that doing something that makes you unhappy is NOT worth it. Pursuing anything that is even remotely unpassionate is not worth it. Leaving swimming was kind of like a bad breakup that took forever to get over. It has been more than a year since I left the sport and I still haven’t fully gotten over it. But snowboarding helped me through it so much, I honestly don’t know what would have become of me if I hadn’t started it back up.”

Walsh’s journey if anything proves that no one is bound to what they do. Take it from the young woman dressed in a pastel collage, that if we are to achieve a better version of ourselves we must actually listen to them.