It was overtime. We had finally made it to the soccer national championship and it was all tied up, 0-0. The ball was at my feet, a defender was running at me, and I made the perfect touch. The ball made it just far enough ahead that I could out-run the defender and be set up for a shot. I looked up and saw a teammate, she was ready to assist, if needed. “MINE! MINE! MINE!” I shouted, calling her off. Two more steps and the opportunity to win us the number one spot in the nation would be literally at my feet.
I was running as hard and as fast I could, focused completely on the ball. One more step. I planned out a left footed shot up and over to the top right corner using the laces of my cleats. It was a shot I’d made 100 times before, and I was confident I could get it there. I planted my right foot, toes pointed to my target, and began to swing, imagining the perfect follow-through to my plan.
Then it was gone. A defender popped out from the right of me and beat me to the ball. She had made a beautiful play, getting the ball away from her team’s danger-zone. Then I heard the whistle, over-time had come to an end before I could even stop my forward momentum.
But, this isn’t the pivotal moment I am concerned about. I had missed shots before. I had been beaten by defenders before. It never felt good, but it was something I knew I could move past. It was the kind of failure you could learn from; the kind that beckons you to get better, faster, stronger. But, this time it was different.
“MAGGIE! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” I heard a teammate scream to me from my right. “WHY DID YOU TRY TO TAKE THAT!” “YOU SHOULD’VE LET SOMEONE ELSE GET IT!” “HOW COULD YOU MISS!” “WE COULD’VE WON!” They were looking at me, screaming at me, infuriated by my failure to get the shot off. I was met with glares, red faces, eyes of disappointment. Even the girls who I knew were my friends and would have my back, hung their heads down and were silent. I looked to the left to meet the gaze of my coach. Surely he would know that I tried my hardest. But, his face was red too. With arms in the air he yelled, “C’MON! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”
We lost that game 1-0 in penalty kicks. And it was all my fault… I think. I was 13, playing in a U-17 league with girls who were bigger, more mature, and more experienced. Up until that moment I thought I had proven that I deserved to be there. That I could be just as strong, fast, dedicated, and hard-working. We had been playing together since we were young, and I thought I had earned my place on the team just as respectfully as anyone else had.
But, that was the pivotal moment. The moment, with all the yelling and the screaming, I defined myself as “not good enough,” as “failure,” as “unworthy.” Sure, there had been moments before this one that made me feel bad about myself, but there was always someone there to keep my chin up; some positives to out-weigh the negatives. And besides that, it was just a soccer game, did I have any right to be so distraught by such an insignificant game? That day it was just me and my thoughts, with nowhere else to go, and no one to reach out to for help.
Again, I was only 13. Middle school and puberty were hard enough, I didn’t need the pressure of letting down an entire group of people on top of it all. I didn’t need to believe I was “less than,” while already struggling with the daily woes of trying to understand friendships, crushes, and bras.
However, this isn’t a “woe is me” post. This is just me, describing a moment that I had stuffed away in the back of my mind. This is just me, saying that I don’t want to run from the pain of this moment anymore. This is just me, hoping to motivate you to face your past as well.
That day, in that moment, I became a girl who lacked confidence, who wasn’t worthy of being someone great, and who never wanted to let anyone down ever again. That was the moment I became a people pleaser, an anxious outcast, and a follower. But, that’s not the real me. I am a natural-born leader, a social butterfly, a fierce innovator, a dreamer, and a strong-as-hell independent woman! I owe it to myself and to the world to unleash her!
I am getting a little carried away. #sorrynotsorry
In the summer of re-defining myself, of discovering who I am meant to be, and of standing up for what I believe in, I have decided to re-write this moment in time. No, I can’t go back and change what happened. No, I can’t ask my teammates and coaches to take back what they said. But I can, and I will, change what I believe about myself.
I am lucky enough to have people in my life now who are helping me to see not only the positives of that moment, but also the positives of the current moment, and all the ones in between. While the changes aren’t happening overnight, and I still look back at that soccer game with sadness (I only just had a revelation this morning, mind you), I am determined to rewrite my thoughts about it.
I was more than good enough. I was successful. I was worthy. I was, and I AM. My confidants have helped me to see what was truly inspiring about that moment: I was playing 3 years ahead of my age, I earned quality playing time, I was on a team good enough to be at the national championship, I had gone to all of the practices leading up to that moment, I was giving my best effort, I was taking a risk.
I may need to read that last paragraph to myself a million more times before I actually start to believe it. But, I have learned that the truth is what you make it. I had experienced a traumatic moment, and that is not to be down-played, but I had also chosen to listen to the negative words. Now I am choosing to abandon that negative self-talk and speak positively about myself, about my past, and about that moment.
We’ve all heard it before, but I’m going to put it here as a reminder: what we focus on, we find. What do you want to focus on? What moments do you need to rewrite? What have you been believing about yourself that you wish you didn’t?
As Mavericks, we are strong individuals with big goals and an even bigger personalities, but if there is any sort of wall that is hindering you from reaching your potential, then I am begging you to face it. There’s so much of you the world is missing out on! There’s so much of you that you haven’t had the opportunity to explore or to appreciate.
Remember, we are one-of-a-kind, but we’re not alone. Let’s fly, Maverick Tribe!