I wrote this article a couple of years ago, but couldn’t sell it anywhere. As a freelancer, you learn to cut your losses some times and move on. But I really like this piece – it’s fun to go back and read your earlier writings. Thought this might be a good time, a good venue, to share it with others. Enjoy!
I took up soccer goalkeeping in high school. My idea of fun was stepping in front of a speeding soccer ball and recklessly throwing myself into a fray of swinging limbs head first. Over the years I’ve been kicked, fractured, bruised, torn and dazed. I love it. I may not be bound for the Olympics, but I invest as much heart as any Olympiad.
Part way through this past season, I realized I used to live life the way I played soccer. I used to throw myself into life screaming Carpe Diem! But now that I’m in my early thirties, married—with children, that recklessness seems foolhardy.
Every season something rattles me. I endure some physical trauma while playing net that almost cripples me with fear. This season it came early. The ball came at me hard and I caught it, but my opponent didn’t stop. It happens. She hit me and I went down hard, rolling three times before I could stop myself.
The next game, I couldn’t shake it. I had my angles right, I knew how to read the play. Nothing had changed except each time a striker came close, panic loomed and I backed up into my net. That’s bad.
“Come off your line!” my coach screamed.
But I reasoned it was just a game, what was I doing being so irresponsible? This is a sport for younger people, who heal faster.
I’ve been hit before, but this time it was different. No matter how I tried to reign in my fear, it won me over. The next game, I prayed – not everyone prays but it brings me great solace. The fear didn’t lessen, but as I refocused, I realized that my fear had no power.
Fear ruled much of my life off the pitch too.
I’ve had my fair share of hurts and heartaches that have left me numb and paralyzed in many ways. As a goalie, it’s easy to stand on your goal line and wait, not take any chances by coming out – leaving your net hopelessly exposed because you become a small target in a large net. You’re easy to miss. So, in my life like in the game, I prayed some more and came off my line.
I took a few steps out, and then a few more. I made some unexpected friends. I fight the panic attacks instead of giving in to the fear. I’ve exposed my heart in ways that I haven’t done in a long time.
I spent several years crippled on the goal line letting the other team take shots on me, so to speak, but now I’m back in the game. That’s something to celebrate. I’m focused now, aware. The girl that lived to seize the day had her season, she grew up, and that’s good. Now I check my angles, read the play, come off my line and pray. I’ve taken a few dives, had a couple get past me, and that’s OK. I would rather play, take a few hits, and suffer the injuries than live in fear any longer.
Have you faced a fear recently? How did you overcome it? How did it turn out? Leave your story in the comments, I’d love to read them.
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