I promised that I would do this my way, staying true to who I am, or I wouldn't do it.
Today I'm taking my inspiration from Graeme Obree, aka "The Flying Scotsman", a bicycle racer who definitely did things his own way. Struggling with bipolar disorder and decades of secrecy as a closeted gay man, Obree decided to pour his energy into something so singularly hard that relatively few have attempted it -- the world hour record.
Naturally curious and mechanically inclined, Obree built his own bike, fitting it with bearings from a washing machine (because he saw the drum turn at 1200 rpm and guessed the bearings would be stronger and smoother than traditional bicycle bearings). He also invented his own, unorthodox riding positions to reduce his wind resistance. The UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale, the world governing body for bicycle sport) banned his position and his bikes, but later relented and returned his title to him.
Obree had trouble breaking into and staying in the professional ranks -- his struggles with mental illness and his self-made nature made him difficult to coach. And still he managed to accomplish some seemingly impossible things. He did it in his own DIY-punk way. In some respects, I think he's the punkest bicycle racer ever.
So today, while I continue to ride the ups and downs of carving out a career as a Jewish freelancer, Graeme Obree is my inspiration, and a reminder that sometimes the promises we make to ourselves are the most important ones to keep.