• Richie Crowley

I Am My Own Champion

I used to be an athlete.

At 17 I was the captain of the US Men’s Under 18 National Ice Hockey Team. At 18 a Division 1 athlete. At 22, a professional athlete.

I used to be an athlete.

And that’s all I was. Or at least, all I knew I was. I was a branch, comfortably being swept downriver by the current, never thinking to reach for a root from the bank. Never thinking to climb out of the wet.

So when the time came at 25 for it all to end, I was lost.

I moved back to Boston and took the first job I was offered. I stayed in the current.

After a year of work that suppressed who I truly felt I was, I shifted and I started to view myself as an artist, as a creator. What I didn’t know was how to begin architecting this new avenue of life I daydreamed of walking on.

I was discouraged to share these ideas, having learned from previous experiences in doing so. The way I thought was foreign to those I surrounded myself with. Bold ideas were met with concern. Life was a conversation filled with replies that questioned first, celebrated second. Every time I had an idea, the person I shared it with asked how it would pay rent, cover student loans, or help me buy a house, rather than admiring how ambitious I was. Dialogues that I interpreted as having a lack of belief in me and my ideas. It’s not that I was incapable, I just wasn’t understood.

But the real issue was that I had assigned too much of my self-perception or value to others.

In the years since, I have been exercising my creative muscles, as well as my belief in myself. I’ve learned to adjust the expectations of the reception of my ideas, I’ve learned to trust the intention of an idea and create first for myself, and I’ve learned how to be my own champion.

To be my own champion means that I am my first and biggest fan. It means that I do not need another’s confirmation to propel me into acting on something that I believe in. It does not dismiss those who also champion me, if anything it complements their convictions, while also preparing me for the moments where my cheering section is smaller, or non-existent.

What being your own champion also does is eliminate the reliance on others to cultivate your own worth. This creates the space for relationships to be void of any type of transaction and populated with celebration, love, and friendship.

Of the 7 billion-plus people that cohabitate this earth, we can’t rely on another being as invested in one of us as much as we are in ourself. We may be the pillars and priorities of others, but we will not be the top, at best we will share it in a 1-A capacity.

The exercise of being your own champion then becomes the ability to cultivate all one needs in order to believe in themselves, from within. You will have fans, friends, supporters, and believers which can amplify your self-belief but do not allow this to be confused with or replace the need to bring this first.

When we are our own champion, we move through life with the confidence that we can do anything, and if you’ve experienced these moments then you know this is fucking magic.

The timeline shared above offers that being my own champion was not the result of a snap of my fingers. I first needed to hear that others believed in me. When I realized that there were people who believed in me as an artist and as a creator as much as I did, it began the process of becoming my own champion.

Today, it’s as present in my life as my other commitments. It’s a daily practice.

The document where I store all my projects, thoughts, and ideas is titled YOU CAN DO ANYTHING, and though titling a google sheet isn’t a crystal ball, it’s a step in the right direction and is a 20 times per day reminder that I can do anything.

But belief and words are not enough. Like all things, I need action.

So I wrote my own bio, I wrote my own hype sheet, I updated my Linkedin, I decided to begin a newsletter, I called newspapers, I called podcasts, I spent my time promoting myself. I spent my time being my own champion. I chose action. And I’m proud of myself for doing that, despite how uncomfortable it is. I often have a disagreement with the way manifesting is portrayed by those who advocate for it. It’s promoted as “if I think this enough, it will become” which disregards strategy and action. Being your own champion is no different. Do not confuse the process of becoming your own champion with simply repeating it to yourself in the mirror 10 times every morning. I love that, and it’s a great start but introduce action. If step 1 is believing in yourself, step 2 is taking every single possible action to reinforce this belief and pursue your dreams.

As I ride across the country, more than I’d like, I see a lack of confidence in the eyes of strangers. When we discuss how the ride was a dream of mine, they retreat, as if dreaming was part of a past child that is inaccessible today. And that crushes me. Confidence may be a sleazy word but the definition of it is a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities, a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances. And for me, confidence is family to being your own champion.

“Do you believe you can do anything?” may be the most important question we can ask ourselves. And don’t fucking lie in your response either. There is no shame in answering no. I answered no for 26 years, but I am grateful to now answer yes. I don’t mean for my words to be aggressive, but I do want my passion to be.

My intention in writing this is not to align myself with those who shout “stop making yourself the victim” or similar harsh words disguised by the speaker’s motivational title. I know how hard it is to believe in yourself. I know depression. I know feeling trapped. My intention is to ignite an inner champion or simply allow one to ask themselves, am I my own champion?

This life, our existence, is so rare. We each have the opportunity to take complete advantage of our breath and create the life we want. We must release our dreams from the prison of disbelief.

Your words of encouragement, support, and check-in’s mean the world to me, and I appreciate them deeply, but I don’t need them. This ride, the videos, the writings are first for me. Yes, I would love for anything I create to inspire someone, but in order for me to continue being my own champion with integrity it is critical that I continue to move through life for me first.

I hope that isn’t harsh.

Richie. Human.


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