I Get To Be Me

My birthday is coming up next week. And no this blog is not to serve as a reminder. Although if you forget, I will probably be mad. Regardless, next week I'm turning 29. Which is seriously ridiculous. Because 29 is basically 30. And 30 is well, (I know I'll offend people for this one) OLD. How am I old? I  still live at home and my mom pays my cell phone bill.  I wear sweatshirts that say "Like A Boss" and am having a hard time throwing out my Guitar Hero.

Are these things a 29-year-old says?

I'm not really sure. I know most of the people my age are married, have jobs, own houses, some have children and basically know what the rest of their life will look like.

But I'm different. And I'm okay with that. And here's why.

First off, I'm not alone. Not that I need someone else doing the same thing as me to validate why I'm doing it, but when you stray away from the tracks, it's nice to have other people who know what you're going through and understand things like: "I can't go to happy hour because I want to train with a boys team at 6pm on a Friday."

Second, I wake up every day having no idea what I'm going to do. I know I have to workout or play soccer, but after those 2-4 hours are up, I'm game for just about anything. Because I can be. I'm 29 years old and every day I can do WHATEVER I want.

Then there are the real reasons I'm okay with it.

I have said this before, but I was lucky to find something I was passionate about when I was five years old. I say lucky because at five, it's not something you think about. When you're an adult, it's more in your control to find your passions.

Once I figured that out, I knew what I wanted. I wanted to be a professional soccer player and nothing would get in my way. And 24 years later, I'm there. I'm doing it. And I forget how seriously awesome it is sometimes.

I was in Verizon the other day getting my new phone set up and the guys working there asked about my license plate. It says "OCHO" for those who might not know, and it represents my favorite number. I told them I play professional soccer. I usually I don't like to bring that up because people always have a ton of questions. Like: "so Mia Hamm, she's like really good still right?" Or my favorite, "so, what's your job then?" But I actually had a good conversation about women's soccer with these two guys and they said "that all sounds so cool."

This got me thinking. It is cool. It's really freaking cool.

But not because I play professional soccer. That's not why I think it's so cool. It's because I had a dream when I was 5 years old. And I did it. I am living the life I wanted.

And now to the point of this blog. Took a while to get here, I know, but it's really important.

I'm turning 29 next week. I'm still playing professional soccer and doing all the things I ever wanted to do.

When my mom was going to college, she got pregnant with me. She didn't finish school, and neither did my dad.

They put their life on hold for me, my brother and sister. We never really had a lot of money or resources, (especially when it came to soccer - hockey family) but between them, my grandparents, my step parents, my aunts and uncles, my cousins and everyone else in between, my dream came true.

I'm tearing up as a write this. And let's face it, that's not my style. But my family and good friends have made it possible for me to live this life. They knew how much it meant to me to kick a ball. They knew that nothing made me happier and they were behind me every step of the way.

Even now, I live in a different country for part of the year, with articles and live streams in different languages, and six hours between us, but they're still behind me as if I was that five-year-old who just scored for the first time ever.

And to be honest, it goes both ways. When I call to tell my mom or grandma I scored, I feel like I'm five years old again, explaining in detail how the ball ended up in the back of the net with a huge dorky smile on my face.

This all hit me pretty hard recently. The fact that I'm turning 29 is a big deal, though it probably isn't to many others. I'm sure 30 is the big hit. But I'm different right?

The other reason is because I'm home now. Every time I leave home and come back I have a stronger appreciation for my life and the people in it. I couldn't have done this on my own. And whatever my future passions are, I know I"ll need them.

So. Thank you. To everyone who helped me get here. My family, coaches, friends, teammates. Here is a place where I can sit back and smile about my experiences, the people I've met and the things I've learned.

I've learned the value of support in a way nothing else could ever show me.

And I've learned that the backbone of that support is always love.

It's because of you that I get to be me.