What do you want to be when you grow up? Common answers heard include, doctor, lawyer, rock star.
I was one of those weird kids who knew that they wanted to be an accountant. But as a side gig, I dreamed of being a professional badminton player. In countries in Europe and Asia the sport is played in large stadiums in front of tens of thousands of fans; the athletes are stopped in the streets for pictures and autographs much like Tim Duncan and Jason Witten are in the US; and instead of everyone tuning in to watch the football game on Sunday, they turn on the television to see the badminton finals.
For a brief while, I pursued this dream and competed in tournaments around the world leading up to the 2012 Olympic Games in China. I scratched landmarks off my bucket list in Rome—the Sistine Chapel, the Coliseum and the Trevi Fountain. I was in heaven playing with lion and tiger cubs in South Africa. A week before a tournament in Calgary I lost my passport and had to fly to Seattle and drive through the breath-taking Cascade mountains. As a side note, the drive is more scenic and less terrifying when it is not raining—fortunately, at least one way was dry. For a few months I lived and trained in China where I tried local delicacies like snake and tarantula on a stick. I even learned some Chinese and to this day I can count to 3 (used to be 10 but I lost a few numbers over the years) and say common phrases like, “How are you,” “No problem,” and “How much is this” (my favorite).
I came up short, ending the qualifying period with a world ranking of 121 and a national ranking of 3. As a full time student and later a big four employee, it was sometimes frustrating playing against competitors who either delayed school or work in order to pursue their dream. But eventually I grew to learn that what I thought was a hindrance, was actually an advantage for real life. I learned discipline, the value of hard work, and how to save a buck (because traveling isn’t cheap). I also now have friends in all parts of the US and the world. I learned to appreciate different cultures and customs and eventually learned to strike up a conversation with almost anyone. My multi-taking skills had to be on point to juggle the travel, the training, the work and the studying—I remember being in New York when I received my FAR results and Greece for my BEC ones. And now as a full time accountant, there is not a day that goes by where I do not use at least one of these skills.
I may not made it to the Olympic podium but without the invaluable knowledge I garnered from my amazing experiences, I might never have made it to ATKG. And I got here as fast as I could!
By: Ruth Olivares, Managerby