Last Friday, I stood alert on the kickball field playing short stop when I caught a glance of my dad and mom in the stands. They had come with me, their 28 year old daughter, to the game on their last night visiting LA. I focused on the game, praying the ball would be kicked in my general direction so I could show off my skill or athleticism or whatever. For some reason I was again a little girl out on the field trying to make my parents proud. The ball didn’t come to me at that time, but something else did.
Since the age of four, I’ve been intent on being successful in soccer. Whether playing or coaching, excelling in this sport has been a lifelong pursuit of mine. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t, but it is consistently my belief that this is the only thing that could ever make me feel truly happy and alive, despite growing evidence to the contrary. However, standing out on that diamond, the thing I wanted most acutely was to be a bad ass.
Kickball just happened to be the immediate mode by which I had the opportunity to be a bad ass, but I realized in that moment, that there were many different ways I could accomplish this. I could write a book, I could sing a solo, I could open a business, I could be a great trainer. Certainly not everything will work for me, but there are lots of things I’m good at and have the potential to be bad ass at if I put in the work and go for it the way I have for soccer.
At this point, our game was moving right along, still no kickers playing the ball anywhere near me. My friend at third base looked over at me and said, “Why are you looking at me like that?” I snapped back to reality, not realizing the extent to which I was zoning out. “Like what?” “You look like you’re dying. Cut it out,” he said, sort of insensitively if that had actually been the case. I had no idea my blank stare came off as dead behind the eyes, but I can see where it came from.
Even though this realization is freeing, it’s kind of scary too. My world view, belief system, points of reference all come from soccer. They revolve around the fact that this passion, one passion is the core of me, and that it is the only one for me. The pastimes I pursue, the jobs I apply for, even the guys I date revolve around this one thing. How can I leave behind such a strong reality?
It must be the same way for a butterfly when she comes out of a cocoon. Something like,WTF! Why the hell do I have these wings and how am I flying? I was pretty sure life revolved around crawling and digging. But eventually butterflies get the hang of things, and I’m sure that even the most bad ass, devoted caterpillar eventually decides that she can excel in fluttering and pollinating. Maybe she even looks back at her days of inching along twigs as inspiration. Maybe she can fit her old life into her new one, realizing that if she hadn’t been so dedicated to thriving in her life as a caterpillar, she never would have gotten to be where she is today, so happy and successful as a butterfly.
While, I’m not sure exactly what to do with this new outlook that I can’t quite ignore, at least I know what I’m looking for. My days of playing soccer took me through every side of passion I can imagine, and they gave me a chance to be exceptional. They gave me the experience I needed to know how to stretch myself, to work hard, to care about things bigger than myself. Now all I need is the strength to try new things and the faith that they can be just as wonderful as the one I had before.