In case you haven’t been keeping up with the Olympics, allow me to introduce you to Maya DiRado.
She’s a swimmer, a Stanford grad (with a degree in management science and engineering), and highly intelligent (earned a perfect score on the math section of the SAT at the age of 15).
This is her first Olympics. It’s also her last.
She’s retiring from swimming, moving to Atlanta with her husband, buying a house, and starting a job as a business analyst.
When I heard the commentators talking about her during her first swim at the Olympics, it caught my attention. She just sounded cool, like someone I’d want to hang out with.
But then the commentators added something. When talking about Maya’s plans for the future, one of the commentators declared it “a shame.”
I know what he meant—that if Maya were to continue swimming, she would no doubt achieve major feats. And she’s a joy to watch, since her gracious spirit and warm enthusiasm bubble over into every interview.
But Mr. Commentator, it’s not a shame.
It’s not a shame when a woman chooses her own life path. It’s not a shame when she decides to go for what she wants, even if it’s not what you, sitting up in your booth, want. It’s not her job to consider what the world thinks she should do. As it is 2016, this smart young woman gets to decide her own career path.
When you declare that it’s a shame she’s giving up competitive swimming, you’re making the statement that her worth is in swimming, that it’s the most she can offer the world. How on earth can you determine that? You cannot know her potential. You have no idea what she could achieve outside the pool.
From what I can see, Maya DiRado is intelligent, hard-working, and poised. Something tells me she is well-equipped to make smart choices about her own life.
And that, Mr. Commentator, is no shame. In fact, it’s a beautiful, incredible thing. And I, for one, am thrilled to see it.