Sometimes, for reasons we do not know, unfortunate things happen throughout this life and we have to decide how we approach it. Sometimes it’s as serious as death but can range from heartbreak to not getting accepted to a school, not making the team you wanted or just making a mistake. Even though we don’t plan for these unfortunate things, they happen to us despite our best efforts. As I wrote in my last Instagram post, I’m experiencing some of these realities now. I’m talking about this extensively here because a lot of people don’t. A lot of people don’t want to tell others when they’re down, especially in sports, and ESPECIALLY when you’re a goalie.
Talking about feelings and emotions in society isn’t seen in the most positive light. I wouldn’t go as far to say it’s taboo, but more often than not the impressions of someone talking about their feelings are ones of weakness. In sports, that’s not something you can afford to be (I could write an entire blog on the historical and psychological reasons why), and as a goalie, you MUST be “mentally tough”. My personal opinion is that this type of thinking and pushing down emotions is what leads to mental health problems within the athletic community. I am just now at the age of 25 finally getting comfortable not only recognizing what I’m feeling but being able to express those feelings aloud.
Why don’t we express our feelings? From what I’ve gathered from reading Brené Brown’s books is that it requires us to be vulnerable, to take a risk. You don’t know if you’re going to get made fun of, yelled at, or looked down upon socially for expressing yourself depending on the situation. In which case, it’s bravery, not weakness in letting your feelings out. Now I’m not saying if you let three goals in a row it’s okay to cry about it the rest of the game. What I’m saying is, if you start feeling down talk to someone. I always relied on my teammates to pick me back up, and now I rely on my friends (many being former teammates) to do the same in life.
Being mentally tough doesn’t mean that you’re emotionless, I mean c’mon we’re all human! It means you can feel that hurt for a second, allow yourself to feel it, but knowing that those same teammates you feel like you just let down are still counting on you and believe that you can get the next one, and you believe it too. If there’s one you’re really struggling to rebound from grab someone and tell them you need a quick pep talk, that is seriously why your teammates are there – to pick you up when you fall down and to have your back no matter what.
When I was playing, I always felt the need to keep everything inside and be this “tough” presence on and off the field. Playing goalie definitely had an impact on that, my anxiety had another too. Depression adds a whole other element, of not wanting to be a downer, etc. If you don’t let people in though, nothing will change. There’s been a lot of articles in recent years about the keys to happiness and what you need to do to be happy, and everyone’s looking for the one thing. For me, it’s never one thing. When I’m truly happy it’s coming from a ton of smaller moments, many of those moments have been when I’ve shared my feelings or someone shared their feelings with me. It’s being in the moment and appreciating them when those good moments happen. When life is handing me lemons like it is right now, I know I have two choices. I can let the “cloud lens” (as I call my depression lens of the world that comes over) consume me into the darkness or I can take each day at a time and find the small things that bring me back to the light, knowing that soon these bad feelings will fade.
I encourage you today to look inward, feel “all the feels” and tell people how you feel! As another favorite author/role model of mine Glennon Doyle shared, turns out people like people who like them! I’m not talking praise left and right, I’m saying when you appreciate a friend or teammate for helping you out, let them know how much that meant to you. Let people know what they mean. I know it’s scary and maybe dare I say “weird,” but so far, I haven’t regretted it once. If you make a fool of yourself, get your heartbroken, that’s okay because you were brave! You just keep trying, because if anything in athletics teaches us, you never give up. Spread love always peeps, enjoy the little things, and don’t let the lemons keep you down.