Life Without a Goal

From a young age, I knew that sports were going to be important in my life. No matter what the activity was, I wanted to learn and develop as an athlete. I tried it all: ball and mitt in hand, ready position on the starting line, hockey stick on a rink, soccer ball at my feet… all of them brought joy. However, even though I loved all sports, it did not take long before I found “the” sport that would soon give purpose to my life.

I still remember my first soccer game. I may not have known all the rules, but the delight I felt running after the ball while trying to be creative and scoring goals — that feeling never left me. I still remember how fulfilled I felt after scoring my first goal and winning our first match as a team. That moment was where everything aligned: my talent, my passion, my new purpose. I knew then that it was exactly what I should be doing. That day, I decided to dedicate my life to soccer.

It did not take long for me to grow in influence on the field. I knew that my team needed me, but to be honest, I needed them more. I was never a player that relied simply on her talent. I was a devoted player in every aspect. Talent can take you to a certain point, but passion and a relentless work ethic are what allows someone to grow long term. I may have been shorter than most players, but my speed, creativity, and technical abilities were what made me stand out and even be feared by opposing teams. Because of soccer, I felt I had value. On the field, I played with so much confidence and freedom.

Because of soccer, I felt I had value.

Little by little, I became the player I had always dreamed of becoming. I scored a multitude of goals and was often the player who stayed on the field for the duration of the match. I helped my team win provincial titles. I was mentioned in newspaper articles. I was interviewed by reporters. I was even recruited by one of the best varsity soccer programs in Canada. The road in front of me was practically established. All I had to do was continue to work hard, put my whole heart and soul in the process and success would come. At least, that is what I expected.

I had been so focused on who I was supposed to become and on the success that lied ahead that I never anticipated becoming injured. It happened suddenly during an exhibition game in my first year of university. I remember it like it was yesterday, I was by myself in the middle of the field. After doing a move to pass a defender and before accelerating, I experienced a sharp pain that shot through my knee. As I was laying on the ground holding on to my knee, I felt an overwhelming sense of confusion as to what had just happened. I still remember the devastating expressions on my physiotherapist and coaches’ faces and the tears my teammates were trying to hide. I had just torn my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) — a ligament I soon learned was crucial to stabilizing the knee. Without a strong ACL, returning to play would be practically impossible. I would have to wait for a surgery that would be followed by a rehabilitation period that would last between 6-12 months. In an instant, I had just lost the sport I so dearly loved, and the one thing that gave me a sense of direction and purpose in my life.

I felt trapped, and nothing could ease the pain in my heart.

Who would I be without soccer? A girl that is broken. A girl that just discovered that she could not be the same player or the same person again. A girl that felt she had lost all value and worth in an instant. A girl who was lost and without hope. I tried my best to hide how I felt by acting as I usually did. I still wanted to be the girl who was full of confidence, joy, and passion. But the truth was, I felt trapped, and nothing could ease the pain in my heart.

I wanted to see hope rekindled in my heart. I yearned to return to the field. It took time, but I gradually discovered that soccer was not was gave true meaning to my life. I found a new source of strength and perseverance that allowed me to adapt to my new reality. And you can too.

If you would like to speak to someone about an injury or illness that had turned your world upside down, don't hesitate to write in to speak with one of our mentors by filling in the form below. It could really help you find new strength and courage, just as it helped me.

Photo Credit Sarah-Kim

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