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Dear first year self,

If I told you how your wrestling career was going to go, you’d probably label it as a complete failure and struggle to see the point in continuing. However, I promise you your time here (all six years, you’ll see why later) will be a success in so many other ways. I know you’re hungry and the only metric of success you care about right now is success on the mat. I know you’ll do whatever it takes and don’t really care who you hurt along the way. I know you think you’ve got it all figured out and don’t need anyone’s help. I know you think you’re a lone wolf and are better off not forming deep relationships with others. And I know you think religion is dumb and Jesus isn’t real. Finally, I know you’re stubborn, but be ready because all of these things are about to be turned completely upside down.

First of all, not only is Jesus real, he’s going to completely change your heart and your life. Let him. I know you like control, but you can’t do it on your own no matter how hard you try to. He’s going to challenge the way you define success. Right now I know you don’t view anything short of a NCAA title as a success. Lose this narrow minded attitude as soon as you can and open your eyes to the things that are really important.

As I sit here writing, you’ve got a relationship with God you coudln’t imagine, you have a team full of guys who you love and who love you, your relationships are stronger than ever and you’ve grown in ways that are hard to put into words. Those things are so much more important than anything you could possibly accomplish on the mat.

There’s going to be a lot of adversity along the way. Injuries, heartbreak, isolation etc. Don’t fall into the temptation to let your mind run wild and let fear and doubts take over. Trust that every single piece of adversity is working for your good and is shaping you, no matter how hard it is to see in the moment. Again, you’re probably wondering why you would willingly put yourself through all of that? I promise every bit of it is worth it and none of the pain is wasted. Finally, enjoy every moment! You’ll make memories and friends that you’ll never forget. Remember the boy who first fell in love with the sport. You get the opportunity to do what you love every day. You’re doing exactly what you want to do, and you’re exactly where you want to be. Don’t lose sight of this and remind yourself how blessed you are every chance you get!

Love, Your Pal Jake

P.S.Don’t bring that snake back to dorms. It’s not worth it.

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