What Lies Ahead?

What Lies Ahead?

Five hundred (or more) words about something we all deal with.
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Just 500 Words...

To say what? That I know some thing? That I have answers?

That these opinions are right or wrong?

I really don't know.

It's just 500 Words.

Op slechts 500 Woorden

Situé à seulement 500 mots

Nur 500 Wörter

Mólis 500 léxeis

Tylko 500 słów

רק 500 מילים

I could go on, but I digress. I think to myself everyday, where am I going? I look around and I see that I am in a good place. I have friends who support me, and I am going to a school I love. I work part time and sincerely enjoy what I do. However, the question still burns like coals that continue to cook under the ash. Where am I going? Should I know? Should I care? Some people, they know where they are going. Some people get worried when you tell them that you are not as sure as them, or that you have no idea entirely. That's okay. Let them worry if they so choose. "Are you worried?" I ask myself this new question. "Sometimes," I answer.

有時

a volte

kartais

ibland

as vez

أحيانا

weithiau

We all hear this same message. We all have had this answer.

Right now, this my answer.

But is it? Can it be? Should it?

It is truly startling, how all these questions seem to spiral right out of control. Existential questions are like ants at a picnic. You notice one, then another, and another, etc. You can choose to ignore them, but at some point you feel the need to do something. To say something! I am not saying that anyone needs to answer any questions, existential or not, but boy do we as humans want answers. It drives some of us (including me) absolutely up a wall when we can not answer a question. If an answer is withheld, we beg for it. It is in our nature to want to know. It is what drives us. Humans seek knowledge. Even if it's just to know what someone at the table across from us said. Perhaps it's for the opposite. An expectation was not met. Someone we cared about left us. The weekly special at our favorite restaurant has not changed in three months. We want an explanation!

There comes a time though, when we learn.

A time

время

am

thời gian

If you made it this far, you might as well continue, or not. Free will, you know?

I don't know what it is that you may learn, but I can tell you what I learned. I learned, over the course of 21 years, that one does not always need an answer. The answer is desire. It is wanted. It is precious! But, then I said, "I guess I don't actually need this." It took me months of wrestling with personal thoughts, depression, anxiety, and guilt. It took me four months of going for long walks along the water, hanging with friends, enjoying the summer sun and getting ice cream, too. There was good and the bad. People just seem to focus on the bad.

I realized that some instances in our lives can not be explained right away. Some will never be explained. Some may be explained in their own time, further on down the road. When I think back, I knew I had made this discovery before. We all have. We forget sometimes, and then we learn again. In some cases, no answer was acceptable. I felt like I was going against instinct, but at the end of the day, I was putting my ego in its place. I gained what I gained. I lost what I lost. One can only delve so deep into the existential. Unless the goal is to be swept away like sands across the water's edge. In that case, wade a little further in to see where the currents take you.


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Cover Image Credit: Dominic Delore

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From Student-Athlete to N.A.R.P.: Identity Theft

For a lot of athletes, we tend to feel like the sports we play define us. Learn more about the journey in Part two of the "From Student-Athlete to N.A.R.P." series.

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So you're done playing... now what?

When you abruptly stop playing the sport you've played your whole life, something happens. I like to call this, Identity Theft.

This is something that many athletes, including myself, have experienced. Instead of waking up for conditioning at 6 am, you're waking up 15 minutes before class to get ready. You're no longer looking forward to or dreading practice (me) in the evening. Maybe you find that you're no longer "important" on campus. People aren't looking up to you anymore, and maybe you feel like you've just become a number. Some portion of your self-esteem has disappeared, you don't know where you belong anymore, and all of a sudden it's more difficult to make friends.

For some people, being an athlete is their main characteristic about themselves. Maybe even a personality trait, some may argue. Once you stop doing something you used to do everyday, a self-discovery journey is necessary. It's a journey that's for sure, and not a short one.

It's a marathon, not a sprint.

You may struggle to figure out who you are, all over again. It's comparable to recreating yourself. Some retired athletes will continue to thrive in their sport, even if they aren't playing for their school anymore. Some, like me, will go through the days, weeks, and months, not knowing what to do with themselves, or who they even are anymore (I didn't lift a weight or break a sweat for 6 months straight).

Before you know it, you begin to question yourself.

What am I good at? What am I passionate about now? Am I good at anything besides basketball?

These are the questions I asked myself every single day. Tearing my self-confidence down piece by piece because I didn't have the answers. I haven't always been the most social person, that being said, the friends I made were through sports. Teammates, opponents, fans- these were all friends I didn't need to work for. Not only that, I all of a sudden had all of this free time and had no idea what to do with it. Yeah, I could do homework, but that got boring after a while.

So what happens next? For me, it was depression.

Something that once defined you is no longer a part of your life anymore. The one thing that people thought about when they heard your name, is now nonexistent. The best way to describe life after being an athlete in my opinion is Identity Theft, because it almost feels like you've been robbed of a vital quality of yourself. And what's funny is I never thought it would be this way for me, because I never let basketball define me, yet there I was.

I'm here to say this:

Pick yourself up and remember who you are. Being great at that sport you once played was just one of the qualities of the stellar human being you are. You are more than your sport. You do have a purpose and a place in this world, even if you don't know it yet. This journey will be scary, but you'll discover new things about yourself that you didn't even know existed.

Since completing this self-discovery journey, I have learned that I am not as introverted as I thought I was, or at least used to be. I like art, music, and even writing. Never in a million years did I think I'd be writing articles that would be shown to the public. Helping people and learning about people is something I am now passionate about. I look back at my old self and sometimes can't recognize her because things are so different now, but I am grateful for those chapters in my life because they helped mold the person I am today.

I've learned the best life lessons from playing sports my whole life, and that is what should be taken from that whole experience. Very rarely do you end up playing your sport forever- everyone can't be a professional athlete.

Identity theft is a real issue that occurs in retired athletes. It is important that you, the athlete, understand what is going on, as well as the people around you.

This isn't the end of your life, it's truly just the beginning.

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