I was never very into sports, but from early on—age seven all the way through high school—I swam competitively. I did this despite the fact that I didn't enjoy it all that much. In fact, initially, it felt like torture.
I have vivid memories of waking up when it was still dark outside and being driven to the pool for morning practice. An instant physical and mental dread would set in as soon as my alarm went off. It took everything I had to muster the willpower to slink out of bed. I was buried under a tremendous sense of foreboding, unable to find relief or think about anything but the wretched and frigid task at hand.
I'd get in my mother's car, sulking, and ease the passenger seat as far back as it would go while she drove. I stewed in my resentment, half trying to sleep, half trying to slow time down in a foolish and useless attempt to keep the icy solitude of that chlorinated water at bay for as long as possible. This ride was especially bad during the school year, when my general melancholic state would edge up to full-on depression, knowing that after I finished this brutal early morning practice I had an entire day of school and then another practice after.