Now what? If I am not Claire Purnell, the ice dancer, then WHO AM I? Until this year, I never asked myself this question. But I reached a point in my life and career where the label “ice dancer” just did not satisfy me at all anymore. I realized I am so much more. Claire Purnell is a writer, a laugher, a reader, a lover of fitness, creative, a good cook, entrepreneurial, a good student, motivated, inspired, and capable of many different things in this life. I actually have not felt like an ice dancer in a long time. Every day since September until a few weeks ago, I’d gone through the motions of a skater, but on the inside I had already moved on. I would step on the ice and what used to feel so right feels so so wrong. I honestly was miserable. I spent many breaks between sessions sobbing in the bathroom. My body ached everyday from extreme burnout. I had multiple weeks spent deep, deep, deep in depression where I faced a scary amount of suicidal thoughts. However, I knew I had to complete my season to the best of my ability for my brother, my coaches, and the little girl who loved skating with her whole entire heart. As I am sitting here writing this, Claire Purnell the Ice Dancer seems like an old identity from a lifetime ago.
I have moved home to Kentucky and I am living with my family until school starts up again for me. I am in the process of applying to seven different colleges which is exciting to me because I have been able to explore universities that meet my academic and social priorities and are not just close to a skating center. Each school I am applying to is incredible and I honestly can see myself being happy at all of them. Until I decide and go off to school in the fall, I am going to work while I’m home, just random side hustles to start earning some money. I am so excited to have the next 6 months with my family since I felt like I was ripped off when I moved away at 16 and missed my parents immensely. I am so grateful to be able to make up for it. I look forward to growing my instagram and blog, getting more into photography, I am also REALLY loving the gym and making my own workouts again, as well as going to spin classes. I am just doing a lot of things I couldn’t do as a skater – taking things slower, having more time and space for creativity, seeing friends I missed while I was away, writing more and just finally starting to get my light back that I feel like I lost during the past few months while skating.
While I am home, I look forward to visiting colleges and going to Punta Cana for a family vacation. I am also looking forward to working (I love working. There is also something so exciting about working as hard as I do and finally getting rewarded for it – which does not happen for everyone in the skating world). I will finish my college applications by the end February, and I am so excited to hear back from the schools. I hope to get Phoebe registered as a therapy dog so I can bring her to hospitals to cuddle with patients. I also hope to attend a couple music festivals over the summer. I am overall most excited to have TIME and SPACE to find who I am and enjoy things I never could do before because of skating.
As for the future…I never actually saw my future revolving around skating. I always said, “once I am finished with skating, I want to do something else”. There have always been parts of the skating world I wanted no part of. When I was younger, my dream was “to go to nationals and then be a spanish teacher”. As I got older I wanted to be on Team USA, possibly go to Worlds and then be a physical therapist. There was always something else. I have just come to the point in my life where I only want to be doing the “something else” and thinking about a bright new future seriously fills me up because I know I have some magic to bring to the world. I plan to major in journalism and one day work as a journalist, in broadcasting, or write a book…or do all three. I also have dreams of one day opening a wellness center. My one goal with any career path I go down is that I continue to help inspire and uplift people, because I truly feel that this is my purpose. And who knows what will change in the next five years… and, man, is that exciting to me.