Braving Gravity
empowering women, families, and youth-at-risk through improved literacy, increased positive media, and tools for living.
By Clare Durant
When I was only five and in kindergarten my teacher asked me, “Clare, what do you want to be when you grow up?” Like so many little kids with the innocence of childhood, I answered her with a wide-eyed grin that made my cheeks wrinkle up to my eyes and said “an Olympic ice skater like Tara Lipinksi”. It was the 1998 Olympics and I had been completely enamored by the beauty of ice-skating. I loved the sparkly dresses, the crunching sound the ice made when silver blades glided across its glassy surface, I loved it all. When I was five it was my dream to be just like Tara, It was my goal to be an Olympian by the time I was fourteen just like her.

I’m eighteen now and it wasn’t until my senior year of high school that it dawned on me that since then no one had ever asked me “what do you want to be Clare when you grow up?” I thought about what the response would look and feel like even if I did get one; I imagine a raised eyebrow with a slow nodding of the head. I could practically hear their thoughts behind their fake smile, “ya, good luck with that sweetie.”

On that blazing hot Saturday in June when I put on my navy blue graduation cap and gown I had never felt smaller. Drowning in a sea of blue polyester, blinded by a bunch of grinning mothers taking pictures with their black chunky cameras pretending to be paparazzi, I thought about where I would be in thirty something years and what I would remember about this day when I looked back on all those pictures my mom had taken of me. I thought about the goals I had growing up that I had not yet achieved. I flashed back to watching Tara Lipinski’s gold medal performance to the Disney’s Anastasia soundtrack and remembered how inspired I had felt by her.

For thirteen years I got up at 5am six days a week to glide in my custom made Harlick lace up ice skating boots with pink suede hearts on the side in pursuit of the Olympic gold. But when the time came to make a choice between moving to Los Angeles to live and train with an Olympic coach or staying with my family and skating non-competitively for pure enjoyment, I chose the latter.

That day on the elevated graduation stage sitting on that squeaky metal fold up chair looking out at the earnest audience a pain of guilt overcame me. “Had I failed myself, had I failed my family, were those thirteen years of training all a waste of time, energy, and money?”

High school graduation is often considered the gateway into adulthood. As I made my final promenade out of my gilded gymnasium, I was blinded by the intense sunlight and the realization hit me like a punch to my solar plexus, “now what?”

It’s almost as if as soon as we graduate from high school we are expected to curb our enthusiasm and burry our passions in order to find a career that will earn a living. As I embark on the next chapter of my life, which is my first year of college in Indiana I am going to constantly fight to not lose sight of my dreams and also give myself permission to accept that dreams may change.

Once an Olympic hopeful, former captain of her high school debate team, and head of the school newspaper, Clare Durant now dreams of hosting her own television and radio show.

IN THE NEWS: Published Version​​

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