Back in December, I was grappling with the idea of continuing my career as a professional soccer player or retiring. I’m 35 years old, and “retire” is a word that means something very different than what it means for most people who throw it around.
Here’s a typical conversation I have with my knees:
“We’re going to do this again, okay?”
“No, we really don’t think it’s a good…”
“Okay, great, thanks for your input.”
When my former coach Brian Sørenson called me about playing for a club in Denmark this season, I had to really convince my knees it would be okay.
I had surgery to repair cartilage in my left knee (the third surgery in that knee) in July. I was still coming back to full play and it was difficult to know what type of form I would be in or if my knees would hold up.
I say knees because often both suffer as a result of a surgery.
Even though I didn’t know what I would do, I continued to train as if I was going to play somewhere. I trained and went to PT and the gym. I played futsal and pickup and did everything I was supposed to do.
At some point, I had to give Brian an answer.
Sometimes when I don’t know what to do, I go back through my journal. If we listen to ourselves more, usually we have the answers. Advice is hard to come by when not many women have taken this path before me.
I wrote an entry about my reasons for being on earth and one of them was: to play beautiful soccer.
I needed this reminder.
I said yes to playing for FC Nordjaelland for the 2019 season. I was going to be overseas again. Away from my friends and family again. And in an uncomfortable place where everything would be new.
When I got here, my knees were still giving me problems. I thought at one point that I would maybe have to go home. That coming here was a mistake. That it was over.
But I also had a long time before our first game. So, I stayed.
With the help of the physio and strength coach, I got on a plan to get back to training pain-free.
I stuck to the plan and I played in the team’s first game last Thursday. It was my first real match since June when I played for the Washington Spirit. It was my first 90 minutes since I was in Sweden in 2016. My first goal since then too.
The kind of emotion that I felt being on the field, scoring a goal… I knew then that I made the right choice. It’s not always so cut and dry if we make the right choices, but in that moment it was very clear.
I’m supposed to be here.
I’m supposed to be playing still. Even at 35.
It is my purpose in life.
I was recently asked in an interview if I would advise young women to pursue a career as a professional athlete. My answer was this: if you’re into being rich in terms of money, for now, there might be better options. But if you’re into being rich in terms everything else, then you must.
The rewards are boundless.
I would also give this same advice to anyone considering doing anything that they feel deep down in their instincts.. something maybe that isn’t considered conventional…you must do it. You must try.
Being able to say, “I know why I’m here” and “I know why I’m doing this” is increasingly difficult these days. People are always telling us, directly or indirectly, what we should be doing and how we should fit into society, and so following our instincts isn’t as easy as we would like to think.
But when we silence the outside for a little, and listen to ourselves, I mean really listen to what we want, the path becomes a little clearer and the meaning of everything we do becomes so much deeper.
I knew at 5 years old what my purpose was, albeit at a trivial level. I am reminded of it every day that I have a ball at my feet. This is why I feel the need to do things that constantly remind me of my purpose and my why.
We are all here for something grand, even if it’s only grand in our own minds.