As athletes, we put our bodies through hell. We spend hours in the gym, only to wake up the next morning with muscles incredibly sore that we feel as though we won’t be able to move them. We do it because everyday we clock in, we put in work. Athletes fight through the blood, sweat and tears to improve and to grow.
What happens when all of your hard work feels like it was for nothing and feels like it is all going to waste?
When you are injured, it not only affects you physically but emotionally as well. Sitting on the sideline isn’t ideal for any athlete. Day by day, what used to be an outlet for stress relief is just another part of your day. On top of that, anytime a teammate, friend or stranger complains about a workout, practice or any activity that you cannot do, it hits you like a freight train. You would give anything to have one more day, one more practice or one more workout to give it everything that you have and not take a second of it for granted. Slowly, the muscles that you worked hard for start to diminish. The hours you spent building up the muscle crumbles. Weak and helpless, you yearn for the ability to do anything to make you feel strong and useful.
As this journey continues, you have to learn that it is impossible to continue with this negative mentality. Staying positive and taking each situation one step at a time is the best way to fight through your struggle. It will get tough, feeling like you have hit a dead end. In these situations, we turn to our teammates and family members. They are the biggest support system that athletes have. Through my injury, I would have been lost without my teammates. My family was far away from the college I attended, but my teammates had my back every step of the way and continue to do so.
Being on the sideline, you will see the other side of the spectrum, the bright side. You will have a moment of realization that each of us are fortunate for the position we’re in because there are people out there who have it worse. It leads to a whole new appreciation for everything you are capable of doing. Unfortunately, throughout any athlete's career, there will be a time they find themselves out due to an injury, whether it lasts for a week, a month or a year. However, I promise that you can and will come out on the other side of your struggle stronger with the qualities of perseverance, patience and resilience.
It is an unfortunate experience that you can’t control; you have to take what you are given and make the most out of it. Everything happens for a reason, even though it won’t become apparent until down the road.
I wanted to finish this by sharing an experience that I had the opportunity to be a part of. When going through a training program with my team, we were told that sports are not hard, workouts aren’t hard and waking up at 6 a.m. for conditioning isn’t hard. What is hard is watching a best friend die in your arms while fighting for your country. It is hard to go to the funeral of a family member. No sport is hard; it is a challenge. You can fight and get through it. The same can apply to an injury; it is a challenge. You are more than capable of fighting it and beating it if you stay positive and mentally tough. In the end, you will become a better athlete and person.
If you are fortunate enough to return to your sport from your injury, be thankful you get the opportunity and privilege to do what you love. Work hard in every moment. Play everyday like it is your last because it very well could be.