Why do we enter the arena?
Why do we push ourselves to take on challenges and be better — when we could coast and be comfortable? Why risk failure?
In this month’s issue, we name our 30 most interesting people of the year but — if it had a better ring to it — we could call it our People Who Dive Outside of Their Comfort Zone and Do Amazing Things issue.
Take the Olympian on our cover. Katie Nageotte didn’t even win states until her senior year of high school. Yet she persisted for a decade and, last summer, vaulted herself to gold in Tokyo.
But it’s certainly not just sports where people stretch themselves. Sister Mary Eileen Boyle had already given her life to God, which many would consider enough of an accomplishment. But she kept going, creating Esperanza Threads, a non-profit which trains people in need to work in Cleveland’s thriving garment industry.
Kahrin Spear set off on a cross-country trip and came back with an album in her head. Laurie Torres fought through the pandemic to keep her restaurant open. Chardae Slater spent a month painting a mural — and then did it all over again after it was vandalized.
Do these people hear the voices that hold so many of us back?
Who are you, Justin Bibb, to think you can be mayor of Cleveland at age 34? Who are you,
Sam Duvall, to think you can start a major tennis tournament in downtown Cleveland without any courts? Who are you, Kelsey Shepard, to think you can make a living off of making macarons?
While they may have had their doubts, they sure didn’t give in to them. Instead, they followed their passion and believed in themselves.
There was no guarantee it would work, but they had to try.
Here’s how Nageotte explains it: “I just always felt like I had more in me — that I had the potential to be great, and I wanted to see that through. I never wanted to leave the sport with ‘what ifs.’ When I’m all done, I want to know that I did the best that I could and I gave it absolutely everything I had.”
We enter the arena — like Nageotte — to go for it.