Kyra Wiens is a professional triathlete, yoga teacher, and holds AN MPA FROM UNC - Chapel Hill.

She has finished in the top 10 of all her pro races over the last year, in addition to 12th at the 70.3 North american Championships and 23rd at the 70.3 world championships in South Africa.

I’m a working {professional}.

I’m a working {professional}.

I’m a working {professional}.

I’ve wanted a job as long as I can remember, which is another way of saying I’ve wanted to be taken seriously for as long as I can remember. So it’s also the heels and the makeup. “Oh, here, let me give you my card,” I will say in that grown woman voice and then deftly open a slim bronze case. One reason I left non-profits.

I’m best at language. People seem to like to tell me things, to let me listen. I like to edit and reorder and pour over a thesaurus for hours. I find the Chicago Manual of Style suspenseful, even. If you follow the rules, then you can break them—and that says something, too.

I outright blanche when I see a book that’s been dog-eared or otherwise defiled. I’ve been lost and lonely and curious and hungry to know something, or to just feel something, something real and profound and beautiful, and I’ve always found what I was looking for in books. “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

A science teacher in 8th grade told the story of a boy at the beach, who is approached by an imp or some other such figure and told to take all the sand he can. He pays no mind; but then, as he’s leaving, he shrugs and absently puts a handful in his pocket. The next morning, he finds all the sand has turned to diamonds. And he thinks, I should have picked up more sand. I do believe that’s education, it’s just sand. But then...

One day, I’d like to write a novel. But, as the drawing professor tells the technically-proficient Paul in Pat Barker’s novel, “You seem to have nothing to say.” So I hold on.

I like to face challenges, to have the autonomy and empowerment to solve them. To distill a problem, to synthesize a lot of information, and marshal people around a solution. But being a generalist doesn’t fit a job description very well.

Kyra counts a lot, my parents say. It’s true, I think in bullets and matrices. It’s good in my profession, where there’s a plan and then there’s orderly execution. It hasn’t been working out like that, not really, in my personal life.

While I like being a person who works, I don’t actually like to work, not very much anyway. There are so many other things to do. I live in this city for my career. But when I close my eyes, it’s the Rocky Mountains imprinted on the undersides of my eyelids. It’s flying back to my parents’ house in Corvallis—spending the day with my niece at the pool, eating supper on the porch overlooking the Willamette Valley—that makes me wonder, Did I get it all wrong?

I started my MPA, wanting to build the country I want to live in. I don’t believe in that American myth, the rags to riches individual. I believe we do nothing without each other. Who you know, who you can bring with you. The night Paul Revere rode, an active politician and businessman in his community, people woke in the middle of the night and responded because they recognized the sound of his voice. The other rider that night, he was forgotten.

Ours is one of only seven countries where we don’t provide paid maternity leave. I mean, thank you Suriname. I think that says something about how we’re getting it wrong. Our priorities, I mean. And about our myopic approach to setting policies and funding priorities, we should be taking care of each other from the beginning. In a country where your weight is predicted by your zip code, free choice is, at best, misleading; where Congress is majority millionaires, so is the idea of representation.

These days, I like putting on nice clothes and going to an Important Meeting. Or sitting down with a scientist, asking him all about what how this really complicated thing works, capturing his character through my story. Or taking a week to telework from my parents’ house, curling up with an espresso and my laptop in the window seat. Taking breaks to talk with my dad about the ecology book he’s writing. Or pick darling Annika up from school, play with cars on the floor.

There’s a balance to be found, I suppose.

 

(Photo: Mike Olliver)

I'm {worthy}.

I'm {worthy}.

I’m an athlete, a {triathlete}.

I’m an athlete, a {triathlete}.