Four years ago the Olympics were on and my life was still normal. I still had a dream to play there one day as I watched Kerri and Misty win, game after game. I strived to play volleyball like them and maybe one day actually switch from indoor to beach. My goal was to be able to represent Team USA at some point. In 2012, I never would have imagined that now in 2016 my dream would have had turned into a nightmare.
Only four years ago, I was able to slam into bleachers and feel the high that came from successfully getting a ball when it went off kilter thanks to another pass. As a setter that was my job. I went wherever that ball went to get that second touch. I thought I would be doing exactly that till I was in my 30’s at least. But it all stopped. My dream came to a crashing halt. No longer was I able to scream when I got the winning point. I couldn’t even think of trying out for a tournament team. All of the pain I had gone through all went for nothing. My hip dislocating put me out for the spring of 2013, a concussion in the fall. My head still hadn’t healed and my wrist was now sprained so I couldn’t do anything in spring of 2014 either. And then, my shoulder finally gave out. I guess, maybe I should have noticed. My body was finally giving out one by one and preventing me from achieving what I wanted to.
By the fall of 2014 my dream was just that, a dream that never had a chance. It could have easily been a reality, so why wasn’t it? Was it because I didn’t do my physical therapy exercises? Or did I just push too hard? But, no matter the reason 14 is too young to play your final season. That summer I watched every volleyball game played in London that I could, looking for anything that could help how I play. It motivated me to train harder, just to get a chance at the goal of a medal. I didn’t know that was my last year looking for ways to improve by watching professionals. Now because of this at only 18 watching the games played in Rio, it pains me.
Most people would be pained because their country loses in the Olympics, but not me. It doesn’t matter what team it is, watching the sport I once had a chance of excelling in tears me to pieces. I will always have a love for volleyball but at the same time, every time I watch it, it will possibly always break my heart a little bit. I would love to say I go watch my friends play, but I can’t. Walking in a gym is hard because it was everything I knew for years. My life drastically changed in what may seem like two years but in reality was a short time span, because I still had hopes to play until I was told stop.
Still to this day I don’t know a single person who had to end such a possibly promising future so soon. It’s kind of funny, I can enjoy and watch gymnastics even though I could have had a future in that too, yet it never physically pains me like volleyball. But I didn’t go out of that with an injury. I quit because I wanted to, not because I had to.
People will tell me it’s depressing how long it’s been since I played on a team. I heard it at my graduation party, and you know? It is depressing. Especially in the mental sense. A week after I was told I needed to be done, I got rid of all my sports stuff in my room. I couldn’t stand the sight of it anymore, all the trophies, medals, certificates, and even pictures just a physical reminder of what will never be again. A physical reminder that mentally tore me up. I’m still trying to put the pieces back together.
But I’m not a puzzle, and my pieces don’t fit quite right anymore. The edges have changed and some don’t belong anymore. The dream that I once knew is one of those pieces, but it’s slowly getting replaced by a new one. Something that maybe was supposed to be my dream this entire time.
So as I watch the Olympics this year, I still have to remind myself not to cry or get angry. That my dream of watching Rio in a dorm room because of playing volleyball in college, just sadly wasn’t in God’s plan for me. It’s been four years and I’m finally learning a new normal and a new dream.