The 2018 Senior Perspectives is the 13th in a series of annual collections. Senior captains and representatives of teams at Harvard have been invited to contribute viewpoints based on personal experience from both their senior seasons and full varsity careers at Harvard.
Kanon Dean, Wrestling
Hometown: Lowell, Mich.
House Affiliation: Adams
The funny thing about a wrestling career is that when you first embark, it doesn’t resemble a career at all—it’s simply something fun to do. You get to roll around, play some games, and essentially recreate what any five year old boys would be doing anyway, all while wearing a funny spandex suit.
These feelings change ever so slightly over time. You start to show up to tournaments with goals: it’s no longer acceptable to just wrestle, you want to win. So you’re drilling actual moves in the practice room, and maybe, you drop a few pounds to get to the next weight class. Eventually, you find out that this wasn’t enough: indeed, there is some opponent out there, bigger and badder than you. So you recommit to the same changes that you made before, only this time, it’s with much more conviction.
Even so, you might fail again. In fact, you probably will—I know I did. But each time, you will further entrench yourself in the desire to achieve your goals. Your failures had shown weaknesses—ridding yourself of these weaknesses will require sacrifice; and, because failure is inevitable, no sacrifice will ever be enough.
This is how you get to a wrestling career. It is an infinite loop of discipline. To those on the outside, it appears as a curious mix of false hope and masochism, but, to those on the inside, it is the only conceivable way of life. For them, having your life dominated by your goals is not punishment—it is freedom.
I am one of “them”. A commitment to this lifestyle has dominated my Harvard experience. Each semester, I have carefully chosen my courses and tailored my schedule so as not to upset the pursuit of my goals. I have sacrificed most nights and weekends, and almost every major break in the academic calendar. Thousands of different opportunities have been passed up, all in favor of being the best wrestler I could be.
And while I lament the sacrifices that wrestling made me take, it is precisely wrestling that allowed for me to attend Harvard in the first place. Going to school here has furthered my mission in a way that I could have never imagined. Being around the world’s most driven people has inspired me to be a better wrestler each and every day—when every person in the dining hall is an expert in something, it pushes you to develop your own expertise. As you go through the years, meeting more and more of the extraordinary Harvard community, this effect only compounds—as such, I can firmly say that there is no better place for the development of passion.
So, as I wrap up my wrestling career, I leave here saying thanks to the sport. Without you, I am not sure that I would have unlocked what it means to be truly passionate. Undoubtedly, there will be other forks my life journey where I must answer “what next?” In the response, I will always use my experiences with Harvard Wrestling as the starting point.