To continue or not to continue

When losing a love for a sport, what is the solution?

To continue or not to continue

It’s not common to have someone stop and ask what I need or how I’m doing. People expect me to navigate the constant obstacles of life with a brave face. Even though some of the people closest to me have left me to answer my own questions for years, they want a say in the things that determine the rest of my life.

I have always been involved in extracurricular activities like dance, soccer and leadership positions, and I have had to decipher between what brings joy to my present life, upholds my past and benefits my future. These past few seasons have taken a toll on my body and I have come to the realization that while I love these extracurriculars, I don’t think engaging in them is what I love. It’s what others expect of me, and I shouldn’t be expected to put others’ standards above my own. 

Injury prevention had to become a daily routine after working through a back injury, quad or hamstring pulls and tears and hip stability problems. Throughout this process of healing, I have been told that I need to push myself harder and bounce back. But this wear and tear has depleted my desire to play.

 As high school comes to an end, decisions like going to college, living off campus, and continuing sports seem like a much bigger deal, and I am finding myself in the crossfire of my own feelings and others’ opinions. 

With all of the changes and stressors this year, I neglected my “senior responsibilities” and waited to apply to college, fill out the FAFSA and turn in forms for scholarships. I had my mind made up that a gap year was the best decision for me. My mom completely understood and was on board. I thrive with structure and stability, and with such a small amount of that, saving money and waiting until things settled down seemed best.

Although I had the support of my family, there were friends and teachers who thought they knew what was best for me. They hammered in the idea that I wouldn’t go back to school and that my job was only temporary. While these are completely valid points, they don’t fit. I am passionate about school and don’t see myself losing that after a year. 

While trying to figure out college or university plans, I am juggling soccer, track, a job and occasional babysitting. College coaches have been reaching out about playing soccer, and I am unsure if I want to go down that path. I value what they say, but if I go down that path, I’m worried I’ll end up regretting it later.

Again, the reactions I’ve gotten have varied across the board. My mom and close friends have seen me lose my love for playing and agree with my decision. But there are still teammates who think I’m crazy for letting this opportunity pass by, and some administrators and coaches have suggested just trying it out and then deciding.

In both of these athletic and academic situations and in others in my life, I have been caught off guard by all of the mixed emotions from outside perspectives and have felt like it had clouded my judgement. I don’t want to feel like I’m letting anyone down, especially myself. Their opinions and expectations are important to me, and failing is a huge fear of mine.

At the end of the day, I have to live with the decisions I make. There has been a mental shift in realizing that it’s not that their standards are too high, it’s that they don’t align with how I see my future. I know that there will be a sense of freedom that accompanies letting go of outside expectations to ensure a brighter future for myself.