Without The Game

Without The Game

For every senior collegiate athlete whose season is about to end or has already ended, this one's for you.
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Silence is usually described as a feeling of stillness; a state of peace, a split-second of quiet, a season of serenity. It’s harmonious and soothing and usually portrayed by unruffled waters or someone sitting in tranquility. This is what silence looks and feels like to a lot of us most of the time. We long for a moment of silence in this loud and crazy world. We crave it and when it finally comes, we close our eyes and hang on tight to it, for it is ever-fleeting.

But, what if this isn’t what silence always looks like? What if there was a silence that hung around for a little while? A silence that is deafening, unwanted, and conflicted. A silence that looks more like someone struggling to stay afloat in rough waters rather than someone sitting peacefully near unruffled ones. What if silence looked like this instead? What if silence felt like this instead? What if I told you that this type of silence actually exists? Would you believe me?

Almost all elite-level athletes—college, semi-pro, or pro—experience this kind of silence. There comes a time, whether due to injury, retirement, or ineligibility, where the silence sets in. No more cheers of the crowd chanting. No more recognition for record-breaking performances.

No more noise, clamor, or commotion. Just silence -- echoes of what used to be.

Some might say that this is too drastic and dramatic; that sports are just a silly game us athletes play and that we need to get over it. But what those people might not understand is that losing the game is like losing a part of ourselves. We’ve spent most of our lives dedicated to our sport—years preparing, conditioning, competing. We’ve not only invested ourselves physically, but mentally and emotionally as well -- becoming consumed with the wins and losses, the highs and lows. It defines us in a way. Gives us purpose. Gives us an identity. It becomes our world and we become wrapped up in it. So that is why, when it’s all said and done, when the final buzzer buzzes and the last whistle blows, it’s a big loss -- probably the biggest loss in all of our athletic careers.

At this moment, we’re left to undergo some serious life re-evaluation; left asking who are we? What do we do now?

As the collegiate fall season nears an end, the first wave of senior student-athletes begins to face these questions. Less than 2 percent of collegiate athletes will go on to play pro, leaving 98 percent subject to the silence soon. Sure, there are adult leagues and beer leagues we can go on to join, but it won’t be anything like the game we played in high school or college. We’re competitors; we love the thrill of a rivalry, the pressure of a playoff game, the grind of going to practice every day, the feeling of being victorious, the locker room celebrations, the long bus rides. We live for that. And while recreational sports may still have all of that, it won’t ever have quite the same feel as it once did.

This transition is something that we rarely talk about. But, I say, if every athlete is bound to go through it at some point, why not bring it to the forefront and acknowledge it? Through sports, we have been lucky enough to create more friendships and memories than most people dream of. We have grown as people and learned more lessons from athletics than school could ever teach us. So, when that moment comes, when the clock strikes 0:00, and it’s all said and done, while inevitable sadness will strike, I’d like to offer a little bit of advice.

Take it all in. Take a look into the stands to see your family and friends who have been there to support you every step of the way – remember to be thankful. Take a look at your teammates to the left and to the right of you, and think about how these people, who have become your family, have shaped your life – remember to never let these relationships go. Take a look at playing stage, whatever it may be, one last time and replay all of the great victories and celebrations – remember to cherish those feelings of triumph. Take time to reflect on all the years you’ve played – remember to never take those years and opportunities for granted.

Finally, no matter how deafening it may be, take the time to listen to the silence, because while our sport has certainly molded us and inarguably impacted our lives, it is in no way definitive of who we are. Remember that, and more importantly, believe that. Believe that you are just as important and just as valuable to the world as you were when you played your sport. Because if there's one thing I know for sure it's that being a good person is what truly matters in this life. Who you are without the game is what matters and how good of a person you are doesn't change just because your playing days are over.

The silence will only begin to fade, once you believe that.

Cover Image Credit: Brian Schneider

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Why Being An Enneagram Type 2 Is The Best

"Love is our supreme value, and we talk about it constantly."

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Okay, let me tell you. I got into the Enneagram very early in my freshman year of college, and have since become obsessed. I remember the very first time I read the description for my type, two, and I seriously felt so called out-- but in, like, the best way.

Type twos are found in the heart center, and are among some of the most, empathetic, loving, and nurturing types there are.

If you a fellow ennea-expert, identify as a type two, or know someone who identifies as a type two; this is for you.

P.S: If you haven't taken the enneagram but find yourself wanting to after this article, here is the link.

P.P.S: Just because you may have been "typed" as a certain enneagram number, it doesn't mean that they are putting you in a box with other people. Every person in each type is fundamentally and intrinsically different. Not only that, but any one type can carry traits of any other type. It's all a part of being human.

P.P.P.S: One last thing! One of my favorite musical artists, Ryan O'Neal from Sleeping at Last, is working on an entire concept album encompassing all of the Enneagram types! Out now are types one through seven (eight and nine coming soon). His music is literally some of the most beautiful art I've ever heard, filled with meaning, specificity, sensitivity and depth. He also has podcasts on his songs wherein he talks about how they are made, and it's just so fascinating to hear all about the process.

If you're curious, here are the links to his website and to his Enneagram song, titled,"Two". :)

OKAY. Now on why being an Enneagram Type 2 is da-bomb.

1. Love is our supreme value.

Okay. Anybody who knows the twos knows that we LOVE love. That's pretty much the most obvious thing about us. Out of the womb, love is what we come out singing. We live our lives through it, and often our passions or occupations run hand in hand with the instinctive pull towards sharing as much love as possible.

For me, once I figured out I was a type 2, pretty much my whole life made sense. It made sense that I do theatre and share stories because I want to spread love and help people change their lives and feel included through the form of art. It made sense why I felt so strongly about people, why I was highly emotional, why my standards of love and relationships have always been so high, and why chic flics were my jam when I was a child (and still are).

We love loving. Ask us what any of our values are, and the answer will 99.9% of the time trace back to love.

2. Giving to others is what makes us happy.

Twos love giving, emotionally and physically. We are constantly wanting to make sure that our friends, partners, families and loved ones are taken care of and feeling well. If you know a two, you probably hear the words, "How are you?", "I care about you", "I love you", "I am always here for you", and "Let me know if you need anything", more often than not.

We're also those people who want to get way too many presents at Christmas for various people even though our college budget says #no.

3. We find joy in the little things.

Ask any two what we value the most aside from love, they're likely to be things with emotional or sentimental value. Typically, we could care less about the type of car we have, whether our husband is a millionaire, or the latest social trend.

We tend to care about things that can be found off of the phone, and inside of someones mind, heart or arms. We love little mementos that hold precious memories, written letters from cherished people, and cuddling on a lazy Sunday afternoon. We value the true, deep connection that is really the only thing left when all else fades.

4. Who doesn't love hugs?

Twos loooooove, Love, LOVE giving (and receiving) affection. Often, we use physical touch as a means to demonstrate just how much we care for someone. We're often told that we are great huggers, even if we are teeny-tiny human beings.

It gives us so much inward pleasure just to let someone fall into our arms and give them the biggest squeeze. Sometimes what humans need is not based in words, but in the pure fact of being there. Give us hugs! Let us hug you! We love it!

5. We are a force that our world needs!

Hello, big finale. This is the most important one, second to the side note at the bottom. Twos are so, extremely important to the world that we are living in today. That may sound like a relatively selfish thing for a two to say, but it's actually in everyone's best interest that you realize the force you can be in this world. Today, we are faced with so much pain, hurt, violence, inequality, prejudice, disconnectedness, and hate. Now, this is a terrible, terrible weight for such huge empaths to carry on our shoulders. At times, it can feel like we feel all of the excruciating pain in this world that there is all at one time. It can be exhausting.

This being said, it is important that you find your support system to share the weight with. From there, you have all the natural love in your heart to share with the world. Take all of that hate that you see, that we see every single day-- and slather it with love. Know that the traits that you have as a two do not make you alone. They make you special. They make you powerful. They make you infused with the power to change the world. Combat the negative. Love will win. Love will always win.

**WARNING**: HANDLE WITH CARE.

Although I have just went through some of the most blessed things about being a Two, it is important that I put a note here about sensitivity. Because we are so loving, because our natural instinct is to give, and because we feel the emotions of others so strongly-- it is imperative that we take any and all measures to protect ourselves.

The only way that you, as a two, are going to be able to give all of that powerful love to others is if you have fully met your own needs first. People look to us for an example of what it's like to love unconditionally, and that is why it's important to show them first-hand what self-care means. It sounds like the impossible challenge, but once you've learned to love and care for yourself-- the world will glow from the genuine love and care that you radiate from your nurtured soul.

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