Patrick Chan smiles from a barbershop chair
Patrick ChanImage by: James Baker
Patrick Chan smiles from a barbershop chair
27 October 2022

Patrick’s Story: Thoughts from a New Dad

Patrick Chan
4 minutes read time

It feels like my life has done a whole 180 since the beginning of the pandemic.

I retired from competitive figure skating, I changed careers and went back to school to get my real estate license, and my wife and I welcomed our beautiful son into our lives.

Having a baby has been really exciting, but it’s a big, big change, and it’s something that’s always changing – even as we speak. While it’s been a beautiful journey, it’s also been a road that’s been very hazy and foggy, and with a lot of uncertainties.

There had been stability in knowing what my future looked like – continuing skating, sticking with that cohort. But my five-year, ten-year plan shifted to a two year, three year plan when the pandemic hit. Shifting from being a professional athlete, training, and traveling, to being a parent with responsibilities and thinking for another person. It was a big change in mentality, especially with so many shifts all happening in a short time. And with these changes came fear and anxiety of asking myself “Who am I?”

Raising a baby has brought out the best, but also the worst. A lot of things came up for me – from my childhood, from the way I was raised, to my career and my future. During the early months, I reacted to certain situations abruptly. I was stressed. My wife recognized this and helped me to talk more, and made sure we checked in with each other. To help me gain more clarity, I’ve been seeking a therapist to talk to. To help me understand why I have certain reactions to this or that scenario. Why does it bring out this feeling? Why do I sometimes wake up feeling heavy and unmotivated? I think a lot of the fear and uncertainty comes from not knowing and confusion.

" By having more knowledge, I think you can become a master of your own mind, which is empowering. "

My wife is very open emotionally. But growing up in my household, and throughout my career as a professional athlete, it wasn’t very common to talk about my feelings or my struggles. Sometimes it feels like there’s no good time to have a vulnerable conversation. But you know, you may never find that right time. Your mind will play tricks on you, and help you to find ways to procrastinate and put it off. But I’ve been focusing on becoming more open – sharing what I’m feeling, what I’m going through. Even if there’s no solution (I wish it was always that simple!), it’s a conversation.

It's so important to me that I better understand my emotions, to know what’s going on in my mind, and not bury things away. I want to be able to learn to talk to my son, to answer his questions, for when he might go through his own struggles.

In my generation, a lot of parents weren’t home most of the time. There are so many stories of the dad’s version of love being providing and working and putting in those hours, so the family can be happy and safe. But at the end of the day, that family needed him. I’ve seen so many broken family dynamics because there was a lack of connection. Maybe my dad wasn’t as open to having these conversations. But I want to spend time to sit down, and share what’s going on with me and open up, because once my son sees that I’m comfortable being vulnerable, it will instill in him that it’s okay to do the same thing.

I love hearing other people who share similar stories – whether it’s about their first born, how hard it was or a change in career. It’s nice to hear, because it’s like, “Thank God! I’m not the only one.” Sometimes, in the moment, when you’re going through these scary moments of anxiety, it can feel like you’re very alone.

So many things have changed in my life over the last handful of years, at times it’s been hard to wrap my head around and ground myself through these bumps. But the balance has come from really focusing on what’s right in front of me: new challenges, new opportunities, the partnership of my wife, and our son’s bright future. We’re in such a busy, distracted world, that it can sometimes be uncomfortable to sit in the silence. But when you allow yourself or anyone the opportunity to share, to create an environment where you feel comfortable – take the time, show patience – everybody can benefit, everybody can learn and grow.

Support Patrick’s efforts to raise funds and awareness for men’s health.