(Just Like) Starting Over

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”Stephen King – On Writing

Every year for the past 100 or so years, I have embarked on a very simple and stated process during my soccer career: preseason, season, off season. Sometimes one is longer than it should be. Sometimes one goes the entire year. Sometimes they all kind of just overlap each other and feel like a huge blur.

No matter what segment I’m going into though, there’s always the sense of wonderment that comes with the unknown. And yeah, it’s scary.

Preseason 2014

Not to brag, but I’m currently entering my seventh year of professional soccer. Thanks to high school and college soccer, I’ve had many more preseasons than the seven professional ones. Yes, thanks.

Everyone always asks me similar questions in the lead up to preseason.

“Are you nervous?” “What will you guys do?” “Do you know anyone?” “Are you ready?” “No, seriously, are you nervous?”

I always have similar answers because... why not?

“A little” “I don’t know, ask the coach” “Yes, I know everyone” “I’m as ready as I can be” “I look cooler if I say no, huh?”

The point of the matter is that going into preseason with a new team (even sometimes old teams) you don’t really know what to expect. New people. New coaches. New philosophies. New opponents. Everything has the potential to be totally different from anything you’ve ever done before.

For the Washington Spirit preseason, everything is new for me. I’ve come into an environment with players I have never met before, with a new coaching staff and a new way of playing the game.

The scariest part for me was this morning at around 9am. Right before it started. It’s amazing how you can do something your entire life and still worry that you might not get it right. Because even though you are somewhat considered an expert on the topic, being a professional and all, you still doubt your abilities … because even though you’re a professional – you’re still human. And no one is an expert on that quite yet.

My emotions before something new starts are pretty up and down. It even changes from hour to hour.

“I’m such a good player, I’ll be fantastic” “OMG I just tripped over that curb, how will I even dribble a ball today?”

“I’m such a boss, I have tattoos” “I’m such a baby I cry during the movie Beaches”

It’s natural. It’s those first few steps into the dark room that you’ve been living in for years. The very cautious and gradual reach of your hand to see if you touched your desk. Then the simultaneous click of the light and sigh of relief that you didn’t run into anything.

It happens like that all the time.

When I was younger I was extremely shy. I know, I know. How could that even be possible?

I was terrified of going to new soccer camps, tryouts, anything that involved me being in a place that I was not familiar with.

Every time I had to go to one of these events my mom would make me go. She knew I wanted to play soccer; I just needed to get over the idea that I didn’t know anyone or anything and jump in headfirst. She knew things would be okay. But I didn’t.

Yet every single freakin’ time when she came back to pick me up, I was basically (okay, actually) in tears because I didn’t want to leave my new friends and my new environment.

It’s always been scary before the start. Ever since I can remember. It’s the made up stories you tell yourself about what could happen – before anything actually does happen that make you crazy and in turn, make it so scary.

Whether you ease into the situation like the puppy in the video below … or you get a little push like the kitten… either way, you’ll be much better off once it starts and all the worry before will seem…. Well…not so scary huh?