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My Journey: Part One

Updated: Dec 28, 2020

For these first two blogs, I first wanted to say please bare with me.. I have never been very good about discussing my journey or my feelings surrounding it. I am sharing “my story” because in order for me to truly ..Love My Journey I needed to reflect, understand and be grateful for each part of it no matter good, bad, or even ugly.

I'd say that my childhood was different from most I was surrounded by. By age four I had experienced many things; such as my biological father no longer being in our lives and us moving to and from a few different places. For starters we lived in an apartment (too young to remember details), then to my Uncle’s (my mom's childhood home) and eventually to my step dads house. Although we lived with my Step dad, I spent a lot of time at my Aunt and uncle’s house while my mom worked (basically felt like I lived there).

Honestly that is where I was lucky enough to experience what it was like to be part of a big family. My Uncle wasn't afraid to treat me as if I was one of his four kids (I mean my name did start with a B so I thought I fit in nicely). My time spent at their house I was able to be included in learning how to ride a bike, how to get loose teeth out (for the tooth fairy, of course) and making sure I never wasted any of my food. Growing up most kids have their very first childhood friend, from school.. I made some of those in kindergarten as well but with a big family like ours my first friends were my cousins. We would run around outside all day building forts in the woods, making home movies, riding bikes, skateboarding, having acorn fights, you name it we were doing it. We were always using our imaginations and doing something. When we were all together it was like we could go anywhere and do anything (our backyards were pretty big when you are that small). The best part of growing up in a big family is that know matter who’s house you went to out of my mom’s siblings, you were always welcomed in and loved. Whichever house, I was lucky enough to have sleepovers at with my cousins I would learn something different; as each house had a different set of rules and ways things were done. Honestly as a kid I can’t say that I even really noticed that my family was different from all my cousins because I was always surrounded by so much love. I am so very thankful for my family.

Being raised by a single mother you are taught what it is like to work hard for things, and what being selfless really means. By the time I got to middle school a lot would change in my life. At age ten, my mom and step dad got married and he adopted me (beyond blessed). Before the wedding/adoption; I learned what it was like to have Child services come to my house and ask me a variety of questions. I also was able to witness and be present to see my biological father for the first time in five/six years, sign documentation ridding his rights as my parent. I would also learn what it was like to have siblings, like my cousins all did. When my my mom and Step dad got married, we became a family of four; I gain a step brother. In the next couple of years after the wedding my parents would add two more to our family. Like most families, I am sure, we also had our ups and downs.

I should say after the age of eleven, whenever I would get in trouble or my mom would have a bad day, it seemed.. I would escape outside to play soccer. It didn’t matter what the weather was like, I would just sit out there and kick the ball around, trying to clear my mind. Before my siblings were born I spent a lot of time alone in that house, as my step brother only came to the house every other weekend. I learned what it was like to entertain myself when I didn’t have anyone to hang out with, which, most of the time meant singing/dancing along to Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls..once I got to middle school it changed to bands like Sum 41, Blink 182, and Good Charlotte. In middle school I would test my moms patience; I got a handful of detentions and suspensions (in school and out of school). Mind you I wasn’t a problem child, I just misbehaved in one of my classes… well and the hallways. I would say I was "rebelling". I was given a situation to either sit by quietly like I always had or join in with my classmates (who seemed to have no problem being vocal in the classroom when it cam to the rules.. etc). Which lead to me being vocal as well, which led to most of my detentions. My suspensions on the other hand, were because I stuck up for myself when it came to dealing with other people. If I got pushed by someone in the hallway.. I wasn't going to let it slide, so I would throw a punch, or shove them back. One of my suspensions was because a friend of mine and I decided to throw food at each other from a few tables away in the lunch room.. and quote “I need to make an example out of you two” (claimed we had a food fight) was the reason for this one. Once Seventh grade was over, and I moved on to eighth grade, those outspoken classroom issues had disappeared and I learned how to handle myself.. or just went back to being quiet, for the most part. Ive always had a lot of emotions and never really knew how to handle them or understand them, which brings soccer back into the picture. For me I literally lived in my yard playing soccer. If I wasn’t playing soccer I was watching it on tv. Before my soccer games I used to watch it, and after the games I would come home to kick the ball around some more. I played other sports or I should say I tried playing other sports but they could never hold my interest.

When I was a senior in high school I would learn my first major “comeback” lesson. As I sort of mentioned, my whole world revolved around soccer; that was the only place I thought at the time that I belonged. The only true place I felt like I could be myself all of the time.

Five games into my senior season I tore my ACL. My goal leading up to this moment was to play college soccer, that’s all I ever wanted.. its all I ever really saw for myself. When I finally got the results I tore my ACL and that I would need surgery, I slowly started mentally breaking down inside. In my head everything I had worked for and towards was slowly slipping away. All those college visits and showcases didn’t matter anymore, I was broken, and no team wanted a broken player. It took me a few weeks of sitting through practices, games and PT to realize my passion was still there and that I would do anything I could to get back out on that field. I pushed through that pain, and I decided I was going to play in my senior night game before I had surgery. I realized that I was seventeen years old and I was capable of doing anything I set my mind to. I threw out the mindset of “I would never play soccer again.”

I can honestly say I am thankful for each soccer coach that I had, whether they were good or bad. They each taught me something. Most of the ones who would say, I couldn’t do something or I wouldn’t do it, the ones who would yell at me uncontrollably on the field only made me a better player. Mainly because all of these coaches came after a handful of really amazing coaches. I had a coach, who would make sure every time he took us off the field, he would talk to us about what we did good, and what we might have missed. He made sure that we wouldn’t use words like can’t and never when it came to learning anything new in practices and games. He let us know that we were capable of anything we set our minds to. The combination of that mindset and my passion for the game helped me to overcome the coaches that wouldn’t be so kind, or insightful.

...There is that one defined moment after knee surgery, (anyone who has had knee surgery will understand this) in PT when you finally get your leg around the bike, and you don't know whether to cry, fall off the bike and lay on the floor…or continue to get after it pushing yourself to do it again and again. That moment set the tone for my “comeback.” After that moment I stopped having a pity party for myself and started working relentlessly. After a lot of hard work and consistency I ended up playing college soccer.

I am so grateful for being able to experience a childhood like mine and to have gone through the moments and experiences I did at such a young age because they all helped strengthen my mindset, and lead me into the next part of my journey.

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