By Matt Annetts
Walking home from school, I pass my friends loading up a car with all their snowboarding gear. They do not even bother to ask me to join. My situation is well known.
Because of a couple bad decisions, my snowboard privileges were taken away and my only parental-approved locations were school and home. This stint wasn’t very long, but it was time enough to decide on my path in life.
Soon I realized it wasn’t my friends I was missing, it was the act of sliding on snow that brought me the most enjoyment. From that point, I decided my life would revolve around snowboarding.
Now it’s twenty years later, and this season’s snow has just melted. This is always my most difficult time every year. The reality check….
I am broke, there will be no snowboarding months, and the summer workload will be overwhelming.
I have no long-term career plan. Doubt, regret and tough questions eat away …. Did I make the right decision all those years ago? Is chasing snowboarding worth all the scrapping for money? Where would I be if I took the ‘real’ jobs offered to me over the years? What am I going to do when my body gives out?
At age 14, my dream was to bartend all night and snowboard all day. I figured I’d never make it past the age of 32 and had no need to worry about the future.
By age 21 I was living that dream. I was a professional, sponsored snowboarder, and getting paid to do what I love. I was jetting to different countries, and riding helicopters to the tops of mountains that I’d only seen in magazines and movies to ride big, dangerous, beautiful lines. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
Turns out, I made it past the age of 32 and there may actually be more to life than snowboarding.
This past year was my 10th year of working with the same film crew and I figured it would be a perfect time to get out, and retire, I reasoned at the beginning of the season.
I’ve lived a life of great experiences and incredible adventures, I told myself, but it is time to move on to something new. It is time to create a life that is more stable and financially secure for what the upcoming years may hold.
My last film year started out with a long delay as well as many changing plans. In the midst of the frustration, my pre-season decision to change my life’s direction seemed the right one.
I finally got the call and headed over to Europe. First day out, I get dropped on top of one of the best runs of my life, with snow conditions that people search out for years. I then finish the day with dinner along side some very dear friends in one of the most beautiful towns I have ever seen. I realized I would not be experiencing life this way if I did not follow my dream at age 14.
Next, we sailed the fjords of Norway to ride the peaks towering above and witness unspeakable viewscapes. Again, this time was spent with great friends, and I have snowboarding to thank for those introductions.
As I boarded the jet to fly home, still high from riding Norway, my determination to retire waivered.
But now, back to real life in Wyoming, logic is telling me to get my butt in gear and find a career for the future. “You have had your fun and survived,” logic says. “Look at all your friends that have passed over the years. Get out ahead.”
But, I reason back, my whole life has been jumping from job to job that allowed me to snowboard as much as possible. How do I top that?
While following the snow, I did end up getting a degree in Psychology. Not only does that degree do very little for me with just a BS, I graduated 13 long years ago. Employers are going to notice the out of date education and a person who is lacking typical career-driven motivation. I’m afraid to fail, and this fear of failure is prolonging my jump into the next stage of life.
Even though it may be a difficult transition in my life right now, there is no question I would do everything over again in a heartbeat. I have been very lucky to see and ride many mountains around the world while making some amazing friends throughout this whirlwind.
There have been tough times, but all I can remember are the smiles, beautiful places and powder turns. I have even been lucky enough to meet the girl with whom I want to raise a family. There is no question I will have to stop the snowboard travel lifestyle for that.
But maybe just one more year…