In the moment I lay on the ground right after an injury, there are so many thoughts going through my head. Is this serious? Is this season ending? Am I overreacting? Anytime I get hurt, I tell myself to stay calm down and breathe. Breathing is how I get through the tough times. If it feels like everything around me is chaos, I can always come back to my breath, because it’s the one thing I can always count on.
Injuries and sports go hand in hand. For most athletes, if they play long enough they are bound to get hurt. I do, however, have some teammates who have never been injured in their entire college careers, and I sure am envious of them. But I know my journey through injury has brought me to where I am today and made me a stronger, more resilient person. Every person’s journey is unique and never free of hardships.
At the beginning of my sophomore season, I tore my ACL. I went up for a layup and I felt the ligament in my right knee snap like a rubber band. After getting an MRI to confirm the injury, I realized the next year of my life would be far from what I had imagined. Why it happened when it did, I’ll never know, but at the time of my injury, I had never felt stronger, faster or as confident as a basketball player. In one swift motion, that all changed.
Looking back on that year now, I wish I had the perspective I have now. During that year, it was hard to stay positive, and I had so many doubts about whether I would ever be the same player. Through those 10+ months of rehab, I had to remind myself to not only trust the process, but to love it.
In life there are many times when you get knocked down. Spending time trying to figure out why things happen can be detrimental because there are often no answers. The only way to get through the negativity is to face it head-on. Trials and tribulations in life can break a person down to their lowest, but I promise there is a lesson at the end of it, and you will be so proud of yourself for facing those rocky times.
When I was going through a hard time, I was given the opportunity to discover who I was as a person off the court. Basketball is the sport I play, but it doesn’t define me as a person. Whatever struggles come along do not define a person, and you do not need to identify yourself as your problems.
I used my time outside of basketball to realize how much I love the sport. I missed it so much, but I also created friendships with new people outside of basketball. I was able to live my life in a way I would not have been able to had I been playing. I filled my life with fun to give me good memories to look back on during an otherwise hard time.
At the end of a long journey, coming out of the tunnel to see the light was the sweetest feeling. That feeling is only made sweeter by all of the hard work, faith and ultimate struggles it took to get there. It is very cliché, but if things were easy they wouldn’t feel nearly as rewarding. My injury made me greater. I learned I won’t quit, I love what I am doing and I will find small victories every day, even during grueling workouts or tough losses. I am the sum of all of my life experiences. Though heartbreak and disappointment hurt, they taught me more about myself than I would have learned in an injury-free, easy playing career.
Remember when facing a major injury, a big change or really bad news in your life that some people are lost in the fire, but some people are built from it. So breathe through the fear.