It has been a LONG time coming. So here it goes...
I was told my blog posts are too fluffy. Powder puffy. Maybe they are, but I'm a softie. I’m about to keep it real with you.
I failed and it sucks.
One month ago, I was bright-eyed and eager as I boarded a plane from Toronto to Milan, Italy. I was offered a three-month long contract to train and play with the infamous and extremely talented volleyball team - VBC Pomì Casalmaggiore.
One month ago, I stepped onto the court at Nelson Mandela Forum in Florence, Italy. I had to pinch myself for I was playing in the first division of Italy. That's huge. I was playing beside athletes I admired and watched from afar for years. I was across the net from many I deemed "out of my league."
One month ago, I received the opportunity to do something big in my career. I got the chance to play with the best and make a mark in the professional world. I was excited to prove to myself that I could play in the league of my dreams.
One month ago, I also had this little voice in my head telling me I was not good enough. I was fearful and anxious. As badly as I tried to drown those thoughts, visions of failing played WAY too often in my mind. I constantly questioned whether I belonged on this team or if I just got lucky.
What is that?
Where does that come from?
That feeling like you do not belong somewhere. The feeling of being inferior to your teammates, coworkers, or friends. It does not foster an environment to be successful. I felt like my mistakes were magnified and nothing was ever good enough. I was in a constant state of trying to prove myself.
Totally in my head. Totally a victim to self-doubt.
I wish I could tell you that I made a miraculous recovery and came out on top. I want to sit here and write about how I made a name for myself in this league. How I came to this club and led this team to victory.
But, that is not the case.
Today, I am watching my team play a match from behind the court. Sitting next to our statistician and camera man. Only 13 players are allowed to dress for the match and I turned out to be lucky number 14.
It sucks. It hurts. Failure brings out the most insecure parts of me.
Failing causes me to dwell in self-pity. I am actually really good at that. It makes me want to throw the towel in and confirm all the disgusting beliefs I had about myself and my abilities before this started.
"You were right, Megan. This league is too good for you and you should stick to being comfortable and play at a level that is better suited to you."
I cannot help but feel like all those thoughts and visions of being inadequate are true. This experience confirmed that.
Also, I am not surprised. How could I be successful when I am in constant turmoil?
When my mind battles with whether I am capable or not. When my confidence is so easily shaken. When I do not have unwavering belief in myself.
The best players I played with never seem to be the most skilled. They are usually the ones with this delusional, almost irrational sense of confidence. Jealous.
I feel stuck in this sick and viscous cycle that I know all too well. Failing makes me want to become a recluse and play into the role of not being good enough. It makes me want to stay comfortable and throw the towel in.
"Do not challenge yourself again, Megan. Maybe it is to move on."
But, I know that’s the easy way out. It’s simple to agree with the negative thoughts. It's comfortable to fail.
I fear success more than failure.
So here I am. Uncertain of where or when my next contract will be. Not sure of my next move. Not quite confident in my abilities. Doubting if I could ever play at this level again. Wondering if this will be the story of my career. Uncertain if this was my one shot and I missed it.
In the same breath, I am certain about a few things. I am certain that I will keep trying. I am sure this will not be the last time I fail. I am positive I will be successful. I do not want to give up. I do not want to stand in my own way my entire career. I know it is within me.
I will end this post with a quote from my favourite author, Rupi Kaur. I felt the need for some fluff:
"I learned all things come in twos. Life and death. Pain and joy. Salt and sugar. Me and you. It's the balance of the universe."
I will add something in there -- failure and success.
If I choose, it is only a matter of time before I feel the latter. The beauty in all of this is that I have a choice.
I choose to accept this "failure" as a step in the direction of my goals. Whether it feels like it or not.
And I choose to keep going.
That's all. Peace, my loves.
I am beginning to understand that 75% or more of the things I own hold no value to me.
Candles, jewellery, clothes, shoes, bags and miscellaneous products.
I own an absurd amount of the above.
I could clothe an entire all-girls school with my wardrobe at home. Not to mention all my stuff scattered throughout the globe. All the things I left in Boulder, CO and Raleigh, NC. The two suitcases and three duffle bags I have waiting for me in Switzerland.
No matter where I am, I always end up with more things than I know what to do with. That realization sparked some serious reflection.
Why are things called valuables and what does that mean to me?
By definition: a thing that is of great worth, especially a small item of personal property.
How many valuables do I actually own?
I am surrounded by things that hold no value to me. Stuff that is just there. Cluttering my life and getting in the way. The month of January hit me with three important moments:
1. My best friend was jetting off to Florida and Mexico for two weeks. She packed her belongings in a backpack. A small, personal, carry-on backpack. In all my travels whether short, long, near or far, I have never, EVER, traveled with one suitcase. Let alone a carry-on backpack.
Huge moment of admiration for that girl.
2. I watched the documentary Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things. Whoa. Watch it as soon as you can. If you are anything like me, it could prompt a clean sweep of your life. These two dudes, among many others, are on a mission to live a more meaningful life through the art of letting go.
What would life be like with less stuff and more meaning?
3. I misplaced things over the break. Nothing new. I tend to lose things. Everything from five different lip balms to the one house key I was responsible for. I usually chalk it up to my personality and feel doomed in that sense.
But, maybe I have too much stuff that means nothing to me. Keeping tabs on 100 different hair ties or four pairs of mitts is hard. I also know that if I lose one lip balm, another one is hiding somewhere.
What if I only owned one? Maybe it would hold more meaning to me.
I started with my shower. Weird place to start, I know. I woke up with this revelation and went in the shower to find four different kinds of shampoo, two conditioners, body wash and scrub, soap, a loofa and a cloth. I knew something was wrong. I looked around and thought:
I need one shampoo and conditioner. In fact, I could become more of a minimalist and purchase a two-in-one shampoo. After throwing away all the unnecessary products, my shower looks bare and it is refreshing.
I am in the process of my room and it is overwhelming. Getting rid of stuff is not hard. It is draining and exhausting to see just how much stuff I have to give away.
Naturally, thoughts creep into my mind...
"Maybe I will need this super tacky jewellery and outfit for Halloween or a costume party."
"I think these headbands and three-pronged curling iron might come back in style one day and I want to be prepared!"
"I hope I find the missing partner to these 26 single socks."
No, Megan. Just no.
After one month into the new year, I feel like I finally set my first lifestyle change. I am going to stop holding onto things that hold no value to me. This includes everything from a cheesy coffee mug to relationships.
I am going to stop assigning meaning to certain valuables unless they intrinsically hold it. My alarm clock and toothbrush will always hold value. But again, I do not need four different toothbrushes in rotation.
One will suffice. Things are just things.
I whole-heartedly believe that not only will my life become less cluttered and my brain a little less scattered, but maybe I will begin to let go of things much bigger than my personal valuables.
I vow to stop holding on.
God, that feels good.
** The photos at the top are of my meaningless things. I will be donating it all to those in need.
I love when things come full circle. I love when life gives you one of those moments that makes you warm on the inside and smile like a kid on Christmas morning. That genuine feeling that people and our world are intrinsically good.
I experienced that tonight.
A few weeks ago, I was asked to speak at a volleyball banquet. I wanted to share something with the athletes that resonated with them. I wanted to share a story or lesson that might impact their volleyball career and motivate the socks off them.
I thought about all the cliché stories and speeches I heard throughout my athletic career. The more I reminisced, the more I realized that none of the stories about hard work or perseverance really stuck with me. I decided to give those Junior Varsity boys some advice from the heart.
I shared with them the three things I wish I knew and did at their age.
One of those things: I wish I thanked my coaches.
Do not get me wrong. I am sure I thanked my coaches at some point. Probably at the end of season. My team bought a gift, signed a card and maybe sent a message of thanks.
However, I wish I understood at the time what my many coaches were doing for me. I am not sure I fully appreciated the time and energy that my coaches took away from their own lives, families and hobbies to invest in my future. I did not understand how selfless coaching is. I felt as an athlete, I was entitled to a coach. I took them for granted.
I become overwhelmed with gratitude when I think about all the people who helped mold me into the person, player and coach I am today. It was a privilege to have each and every one of them.
The saddest reality I see as a coach today is kids without one. How unfair is that? I wish I could give every kid the opportunity to try. I wish I could create endless possibilities for kids to excel in sports like I was given.
I always had a coach and the majority of them were above average.
I did not realize at the time how lucky I was.
To all the athletes out there who have a coach. Whether he or she is a former National team coach or somebody's parent. Appreciate them and thank them. You're fortunate.
From my absolute favorite coaches that I had tremendous success with, to my least favorite coaches that tore me down as a player. I should have thanked them all.
So here it is...
To my favorite coaches, thank you. Thank you for believing in me when I did not even believe in myself. Thank you for insuring that I had all the tools I needed to be successful on and off the court. Thank you for giving me the confidence to push my mind and body to places I never thought possible. Thank you for all my greatest memories and most cherished experiences. Without you, my life would be drastically different.
To my not-so-favorite coaches, thank you. Thank you for teaching me how to NOT take things personal. Thank you for teaching me how to get myself back up time after time. Thank you for teaching me how to have mental strength. Thank you for the challenge. Thank you for exposing my weaknesses. A huge thanks go to you, because without you I would not be the person I am today.
For all the coaches in between, thank you. Thank you for giving me confidence as a female athlete. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and passion for sport with me. Thank you for providing me a place to compete. Thank you for being a teacher of the game, mentor and my guiding light. Thank you for the impact you had on my athletic career, however big or small.
Today, I received my first personal thank you message from a player I coached this season. I appreciate it more than she knows. She said things to me that I wish I said to my coaches. For that I am thankful, grateful and inspired.
As a person, player and coach - thank you.
I like the idea of being extraordinary. I think most of us want it. But, we cannot all achieve it.
I started reading Mark Manson's book titled, "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life." Within the first few chapters, I immediately related my life and athletic career with his notion of feeling extraordinary.
I believe this is part of the reason why retired athletes struggle with life post-sport. Sure, we miss the competition, the team atmosphere and the busy schedule. But, we can somewhat mimic those things by joining adult leagues, bonding with colleagues and filling our schedules with meetings, events and chores.
What we have a hard time replicating in "real life" is the feeling of being extraordinary. We miss the feeling of being important. The feeling that we are doing something only a small percentage of the population gets to do,
I think today's culture heightens the emotions we feel related to this absence. As Manson puts it,
"It's the extremes that get all the publicity... All day, every day, we are flooded with the truly extraordinary. The best of the best. The worst of the worst. The greatest physical feats. The funniest jokes. The most upsetting news. The scariest threats. Nonstop."
As athletes, especially at highly competitive levels, we are constantly bombarded with the extremes. Our lives are far from normal. They are based on a lot of highs which come from immense success and deep lows that come with agonizing defeat.
Our happiness and joy are based on wins, recognition, praise, awards, publicity and triumph. In contrast, our sadness and anxiety comes from losses, ridicule, punishment and defeat.
We consistently bounce from one extreme to the other. All we know is extremes and that our lives are unlike many others.
Now, take the athlete away from that environment and place he or she into everyday "normal" life without sport.
Suddenly, an athletes' world is flipped upside down. We are forced to find the same source of adrenaline and fun in completely mundane things. I am not saying that extremes do not exist any more.
The extremes have just changed.
The struggle now lies in feeling important without praise and recognition through physical feats. It lies in feeling successful without attaining a measurable goal. There is a struggle to assign the same meaning of our athletic extremes to ordinary life.
Athletes go from feeling like one in a million to just another one of the millions.
I love being ordinary, but it took some time to get here. I realize and understand that life's greatest pleasures do not come from the cool places I traveled, the medals I won or the publicity I received.
It comes from the people I love. Life's little moments. It comes from giving back and being present. Another quote from the book that resonated with me,
"You will have a growing appreciation for life's basic experiences: the pleasures of simple friendship, creating something, helping a person in need, reading a good book, laughing with someone you care about.
Sounds boring, doesn't it? That's because these things are ordinary. But maybe they're ordinary for a reason: because they are what actually matters."
I believe the constant need for approval and feeling of doing something cool and important has made the transition for athletes a little tougher. But, we need to start recognizing this while still playing. Athletes must find joy and appreciation in the mundane things in life. We must find as much normalcy as possible, in order for the transition post-athletic career to be somewhat smoother.
Understanding that sport is what we do, it is not who we are.
Sidenote: I am taking a little break from volleyball as Team Canada makes the transition from Winnipeg to Richmond, B.C. I decided against playing overseas and wanted to see what life is like at home. At first, it was a shock to the system. I was constantly thinking about what I could do to replicate that feeling of being important and "extraordinary." Should I start a business? Create an app? Write a book? I had this feeling that I needed to do something big and meaningful. How can I experience the feelings, thoughts and emotions I had when I played professional volleyball? The truth is, I probably won't. That's okay. The last couple of months have been refreshing, as I am learning to love and appreciate the simple and "boring" things in life. Accepting that not everyone is meant to be or do extraordinary things.
One last quote from the great and inspring, Mark Manson:
"After all, if everyone were extraordinary, then by definition no one would be extraordinary."
Oh my gosh. Life is changing in front of my eyes and I love it. This girl, in this photo above, is EPIC. She challenged myself and many others to do something, ANYTHING. But, do it 100 times before the end of the year because why wouldn't you?
At first, I was skeptical. In the past, challenges seemed like a waste of time to me.
"Why would I challenge myself to something? I can do these things daily without having to make it a competition."
I was lying to myself. The truth is, challenges are not a waste of time. I am just really good at wasting my time. Not anymore.
I have accepted the challenge and want anybody who reads this to do the same. It is so simple. You can do 100 of whatever you want. Say hello to a stranger 100 times. Wash the dishes 100 times. Everything and anything you do is relevant.
For all the important information and a more detailed explanation go visit Cory's blog.
It is WORTH it.
I am completing two #100Somethings. The first one is going on a run 100 times before the end of 2016. Whether it is for 10 or 120 minutes. I am going to do it. I am going to tie up my shoes and make myself run. Not for dietary or physical reasons. Not to lose weight. Not to run a marathon. Just to run.
I hate running. Despise it. I always correlated running with punishment, as it was many times throughout my volleyball career. I never experienced this so-called "runners high," nor do I feel any sort of mental release from running. That is the point.
I am running because if I can run 100 times before the end of the year, I can do anything. Every now and then I go on a run. These runs rarely last longer than 20 minutes. I never stop running because I am out of breath or my legs are tired. I stop running because my mind quits.
I tell myself I had enough and throw the towel in way too early. It is so easy to stop running. It is tough to get myself out of the house and go. For the next four months, it is happening. No matter how I feel or what I think, I will run.
My second #100Somethings I am going to complete is a list I created. This is not just any list. It is a list of literally every thought, idea or dream in my head. I wrote out a list of 100 things I want to do.
This is not a bucket list. I do not want to have an undetermined amount of time to complete it. I need a time limit. I need to check these things off daily. If not, they will remain as thoughts in my head.
These things range from baking a loaf of bread to smiling at everyone I see for an entire day. All are events, projects, hobbies, actions, tasks or goals that I thought about doing at some point in my life. However, I always stop myself because I get lazy, uncomfortable, content and fearful. I had enough.
It is time to put meaning to these "things" and take action.
I get caught in the trap of thinking I have more time when the time is NOW. I want to check off every single one of those "things" on my list by the end of 2016.
I will share my complete list at the end of the year. Throughout the next few months I will document the ones I completed which are worth writing about. I checked off a big one today and cannot wait to share my excitement about it.
I got braces (I could not wait). That was #1 on my list and I am thrilled to finally start that process. More to come.
I hope you are inspired to do the #100Somethings challenge. If it scares you, intimidates you, makes you uncomfortable then do it. You will NOT regret it.
Somebody said something to me the other day that caught me off guard.
"We are different people. I'm more of a home body and don't need to go extravagant places to be entertained or happy."
Was this statement implying that I need extravagant places or things to be entertained and happy?
I thought about it and had an inner debate. I questioned if the statement could be true, but knew in my heart that it was far from the truth. I fell asleep that night to thoughts and warm feelings of all things that make me happy and fulfilled.
To the outsider I am a jet-setter. I am seemingly never at home and constantly on-the-go. However, I can count on one hand the amount of times I traveled for leisure. I find pleasure in the simplest things.
Volleyball is my ticket around the world. The sport gave me the opportunity to see places I never thought imaginable. It introduced me to lifelong friends. I am grateful for that.
I find happiness in visiting my grandparents weekly. I find happiness in meaningful conversations with old friends and new. I find happiness in connecting with strangers over common interests. I find it by inspiring people of all ages to pursue their dreams. I am happy when I can be a listening ear or boost of confidence. I find happiness in witnessing my best friends become beautiful mothers.
Happiness is all around me. Happiness is the people I care about. I could go on forever.
I get joy from watching the young girls I coach compete and celebrate their success. I feel joy from watching my parents (married for 31 years) enjoy wine and conversation on the deck for hours. Visiting long lost friends, and realizing nothing changed brings me so much joy. Seeing my brother become a master of his many crafts brings me joy.
I find the most joy in laughing. Making people laugh is a close second.
Of course I enjoy doing things. I enjoyed sipping a coffee on the mountains in Switzerland. I enjoyed drinking Pina Coladas on the beach in Puerto Rico. I indulged in a few too many donuts in Melbourne. That was enjoyable.
However, my happiest and most memorable times happened because of the people I was with. I think my best friends would all agree. It is never about the city we are in, the bar we are at, or the event taking place. It is always about each other. That makes me extremely happy.
Watching the sunset from the Eiffel Tower was amazing, but I loved it even more from the car window with my Granny in the passenger seat. I swam in much bluer and clearer water, but I would take a muddy Manitoba lake with friends and family any day.
I find entertainment in roasting marshmallows around a bonfire, not dancing in VIP at a Vegas nightclub.
Everybody has their path to happiness. Some people enjoy material things, while others need very little. Never let somebody else tell you what makes you happy. Only you know what lights your soul on fire and makes your heart sing.
Sometimes we get caught up in searching for happiness in the big things. Waiting around for some event, accomplishment or milestone to bring happiness back into our lives. I am guilty of it.
I am sick of waiting for big moments to feel happy. It is so false.
If we get married, we will be happy. If I get a better job, I would be happier. If I lose twenty pounds, I will feel better about myself. If we had a bigger house, we would be content. If I went on a long vacation, I would feel better. If I won the lottery, I would be happy.
We sit around wishing for these things to happen. It is waste of time. Happiness is in all the small things that happen daily.
Why wait for a big moment when the most significant ones are all around us?
There is no right or wrong answer to what makes you happy. Everybody is different. But listen here:
A. Never let somebody else dictate your happiness. It is within you.
B. Think about what makes you happy. Write about it. Talk about it. Tell me about it.
C. When you feel it, spread it.
Putting my thoughts and feelings into words makes me happy, so that is what I did.
Hi, my name is Megan Cyr. I am 26 years old, single and unemployed.
I sit here in my parent's house exactly one year from when I created this blog. The scenery is a lot different. Last year, I sat in my bed looking at the Swiss Alps in the majestic town of Neuchatel, Switzerland. I felt very complete and as though I had figured out this thing called life. My perspective was clear and my heart was full. Crazy how fast things can change in a year?
Normally, around this time I am packing my bags and jetting off to a foreign country. I know the next eight months will be spent playing volleyball. I may not know who my teammates will be, what my apartment will look like or if I will understand anything anyone is saying. But, I usually know that I will be dedicating the majority of my time to volleyball, Netflix, and baking. Occasionally, I will get to travel, but for the most part I will be in the gym, on a bus or sleeping. That is my comfort zone.
Today, I am 100% unsure of what the next eight months has in store. I decided to stay at home this Fall and pursue some other areas of interest. I will be getting braces in a week, which will eventually lead to jaw surgery. I am taking three online classes in the hopes that when I am ready, I can get into the Master's program I desire. I am coaching volleyball to give back to the sport that has given me so much. I am going to be a substitute E.A. to see if working in a school is where I belong. I am doing all these things, yet feel so lost. I feel like I am not reaching my potential. I am scared. I worry about the future. I worry about what I am going to do tomorrow to feel purposeful.
But, are we not all unsure of what tomorrow holds? Sometimes, when your life has been pretty peachy keen, you forget that tomorrow is never promised. I forget that each day is a gift. Instead of living in the moment and being thankful, I get caught in the trap of self-pity. I drown myself in wishing for the past and hoping for the future. I spend too much time thinking and talking, instead of doing.
This blog is a perfect example of what I dislike most about myself. I am a talker. I will admit it. I have one million and three brilliant ideas in my head. One day I want to be a teacher, the next day I want to create an app and then I see myself going to the 2020 Olympics. Heck, one year ago I just wanted to create a blog and post frequently.
After my first two posts I recieved a lot of positive feedback. I thought, "I found my calling. I am going to be a writer. This blog will go viral and I think I found my new passion. This is my purpose."
Boy, was I wrong. Three posts in and I never finished another post again. In fact, I have seven unfinished drafts waiting to be posted. Those go along with my five unfinished scarves that I started crocheting while in Europe. If you look inside my night stand table, you will find four journals that are 1/4 of the way full. I always think buying a new journal will motivate me to write every day until it is full.
Oh, and in my closet there are three adult colouring books. All which have about five pages coloured. I am starting to wonder what is worse... Starting something and not finishing or never starting at all?
Deep down I am scared to post this because what if I do not post again for another year?
And there it is. The reason why I never do anything I dream about or think of. FEAR.
Fear drives me to stay comfortable. Fear makes me unhappy. I did not realize it until I read/watched my friend Cory Katuna's blog. Whoa. That was a wake up call. If you feel like you are not living to your potential and maybe stuck in a rut to visit her blog. Something about her post smacked me out of my state of self-pity.
I am completely unsure of my future right now. I have so many plans and ideas in my head. Some which sound super appealing and others I am just pursuing to pass the time. But, it does not matter. What matters is that I start. I may not finish and that is okay. However, whatever I do will be done with maximum effort and my full heart. I am sick of doing stuff half-assed because I am unsure if it is my life purpose.
I feel like I have a purpose on this earth and it scares me that I do not know what that is. But, the point is I have been given this precious time to explore. I have the gift of uncertainty, flexibility and time.
How beautiful is that?
Thanks to Cory Katuna for hitting me with the cold hard truth. You motivated me to live every day a little better and bring happiness to others because that is my favourite thing to do. I may not know what my purpose is just yet, but I will find joy in figuring it all out.
Let's do this thing.
Today was one of those days. My morning was rushed and I walked out of the house with my coffee maker on the stove at high heat. I did not remember till I was halfway into a massage from our team masseuse. I had an inner debate of whether I should get up and leave or hope that the apartment would not catch fire.
Being me, I thought the worst that could happen was some burnt coffee.
I convinced myself everything would be fine and hurried home after the massage was over. Fortunately, the apartment had not gone up in flames and I was lucky. The plastic handle melted off and fell next to the element. I was sad that I lost my beloved coffee maker and mad at myself for turning our apartment into a plastic-smelling smoke house.
The day continued with minor bumps along the way. My load of laundry ran longer than expected, which caused me to be late to pick up a teammate. I took a couple wrongs turns while I was driving and became flustered. I went grocery shopping and forgot a few important things on my list.
Last but not least, I drove our brand new car into a boulder. A giant rock. A stationary object.
I parked in front of it. How did I not see it when I was getting into the car?. Why did I drive forward instead of backing up? Why did I rush to get out of the spot? The whole drive home I wanted to turn back time. I hoped it was the last event of the day.
The 21-year-old Megan would have handled the day differently. However, I learned how to react to these situations over my 25 years on this earth.
The most common phrase I heard from my parents growing up was, "Megan, slow down."
I tend to rush through things. I am learning to be more mindful, but still have days and moments where I do not take my time.
I feel like my life is a series of misfortunate events. Not serious misfortunes, just minor ones. Over the years I broke over 100 cups and wine glasses, lost or damaged approximately 20 cell phones and digital cameras, lost two passports and forgot numerous important deadlines and events.
I remember breaking a new cellphone and soon after I received an 800 dollar cellphone bill for overages. I cried hysterically and wanted my mom to fix it all. I wanted her to feel sorry for me and tell me it was all going to be okay.
Instead of doing that, she was angry. Not for breaking my cellphone or for the huge bill, but for the way I reacted. I remember her exact words.
"Megan, stop feeling sorry for yourself. Go volunteer in the cancer ward of the Children's Hospital if you want to see what a real problem is."
On days like today, I am obviously bothered. However, I no longer cry or feel sorry for myself. I quickly remember how bad things could really be.
a. I did not burn the apartment building down
b. I hit a rock and not a car or person
c. I am still alive and healthy
I shake things off and try to chalk it up to another typical day in the "Life of Megan." Taking my time and mindfulness will be an ongoing struggle, but I am working on it.
Every now and then I need a quick reality check. I live in Switzerland, I am happy, and stuff happens.
The coolest thing is I get another shot tomorrow to make everything right again.
The first person I wanted to call when I got home was my mom. Initially, I wanted to tell her I had a bad day. Although, I cannot even call it a bad day. Losing a loved one, getting fired or finding out you have cancer makes for a bad day. What happened to me today was just another one of those days. I shall call them, "Megan Days."
I encourage everyone, and will continue to remind myself, to put things into perspective. I realize in some cases it may be easier than others. But always remember, it is just a bad day and not a bad life.
It was the beginning of September 2014 and I was competing with the Canadian Women's Volleyball Team in Trieste, Italy for the World Championships. At the time, the only thing on my mind was volleyball. Until the morning of September 18th, 2014.
I woke up to a text from my mother asking me to call her immediately. My heart sank and I knew something was wrong. She shared the news that the father of my best friend, Madison, suddenly passed away on September 17th. Parker was family to me. Our parents grew up together and stayed close friends.
The news shook me to the core. No words can describe how I felt. I wanted to go home. Volleyball became the most unimportant thing in my life. The last place I wanted to be was Europe. Competing with passion and celebrating success was not possible. With the help of teammates I somehow stayed and managed to play. To this day, I do not know how.
I also had Madison. It seems strange, as she was going through the most difficult time in her life. She convinced me to stay. She did not make me feel guilty for being halfway across the world and managed to have the strength to comfort me.
"Megan, we have so much love and support right now. I will need you down the road. I will need you the most a year from now."
At the time those words did not have as much meaning. I could not fathom a year from then. I just wanted to be with her in that moment. However, life had another plan.
After Italy, I began to resent volleyball. In truth, I always resented volleyball for taking me away from important life events. I felt guilty for missing everything. I believe this feeling contributed to my decision to quit the Women's National Team this summer. For once, I wanted to be present. To see my friends and their newborn babies, to cherish my family and spend precious time with my grandparents. This summer I did all of that and more, but I missed volleyball.
After taking nearly four months off, I decided to continue to play and use the gift I have been given. I signed with a professional team in Europe and left on August 15, 2015. When I arrived in Switzerland one month ago I was anxious. I could not believe I was going to be away from home for eight months.
I wondered what I was going to miss and hated that I left Madison and my family.
After a couple weeks in Switzerland I heard rumors that the girls on Team Canada wanted me to come back. The starting setter was injured, which left them with only one setter. Running a volleyball team with one setter is risky and makes practicing very difficult. I was excited about the potential opportunity, but did not think the coach would allow me to come back.
Much to my surprise, I recieved an email from the coach. He read my blog, "Why Do I Play?" and decided to give me a second chance. After the shock diminished, I cried tears of joy.
The craziest part of all of this is timing. I met with my coach and club president in Switzerland to figure out if coming back to Canada was possible. All parties agreed that I could come back to Winnipeg from September 14th to the 24th.
A year ago, Team Canada took me away from one of the most tragic events in my life and now it was bringing me back. I believe in signs. I believe that everything happens for a reason.
I believe that Parker planned this.
Up until this week I missed everything because of volleyball. I missed Parker's funeral, the golf tournament in his honor and the internment. I missed the majority of the hardest year. However, volleyball brought me back to be with Madison and her family on the emotional anniversary of his death.
I do not know why or how life happens the way it does, but I do know there is a reason for everything. Madison's mom often reminds me that "there are no coincidences."
One of my favorite feelings in this world is when everything makes sense. When all the worry and regret subsides, and the greater plan is revealed. In some instances, it happens immediately. In my case, it took months. For others, it could be years.
We may never be able to make sense of what happened a year ago, but I have faith that one day we will find peace.
Thank you, James Parker Sutherland.
The path traveled to get me where I am today is complex. Many bumps, unexpected turns and leaps of faith are part of my journey. I am often reminded how unpredictable life is and believe opportunities which terrify me come around most often.
I have not always been an adventurous, world-traveling gypsy. In fact, at the age of 18 I was the exact opposite. I liked to travel by day, but enjoyed the comforts of home at night. Leaving home for an extended period of time was not something I looked forward to.
However, volleyball had other plans for me. The sport wanted to show me places I have never seen, introduce me to people unlike myself and broaden my life perspective.
I am fortunate to have parents who encouraged me to pursue volleyball at a collegiate level in the United States. Although playing for an NCAA program interested me, I did not have the guts to do it by myself. Without the support of my family and friends I would never taken the initial step to leave home.
The photos from my going away party in 2008 sum up my feelings. When I look back at the album I laugh. I was quite dramatic and completely unaware of what was to come.
I thought the world was ending. In my eyes, life was over and it would never be the same. Although change was on the horizon, I failed to realize the significance. My innocent and naive eyes did not see past the friends I was leaving and the family I would miss.
My first month at the University of Colorado was a struggle. I wrote dramatic entries in a diary and cried myself to sleep a few too many nights. I was convinced I would never last. I believed I was incapable of feeling happy again.
After a few months in Boulder, Colorado my eyes opened to a new world. I made connections with people outside of Selkirk, Manitoba and started to enjoy my life away from home. Eventually, I fully embraced the new life I created for myself.
Upon graduating from college, the opportunity to play professional volleyball arose. I was thrilled, but anxious. Everything and everyone I knew would change yet again. As I prepared to embark on a new adventure, the feelings of uncertainty and terror came rushing back.
Thoughts of failure consumed my mind. I created multiple scenarios in my head of all things that could go wrong. I felt like my worried 18-year-old self that did not want to experience change. In the same breath, I knew that the first leap of faith was all it took to understand what life is about.
It showed me that life often begins when you step outside your comfort zone and the decisions that scare you are the ones worth taking.
The decisions I made have not always worked out as planned. However, I would not be standing where I am today if I turned a cold shoulder to them. Trust me, I wanted to many times. Some of the major bumps along the way ended up providing me the most reward.
My sophomore year at University of Colorado was challenging due to unforeseen coaching changes. I was forced to decide if I wanted to keep playing collegiate volleyball at a different school or return home. Transferring felt risky, but I did it anyway.
My first season playing volleyball abroad in Austria was stressful and gruelling. The team could not provide me with a VISA and going home was my best option. Five hours before my scheduled flight, my agent contacted me. He asked me to get on a train to Germany and try-out with a new team. The thought of staying in Europe and continuing to play professionally was unimaginable. However, I canceled my flight and got on the train anyway.
After a long summer training with the Canadian National team and the loss of a couple special people in my life, I was ready to be home. I found comfort in my family and friends and began to relax. Soon after feeling at ease, I got an offer to play for a team in Switzerland. A six-month season abroad did not sound appealing, nevertheless I hopped on a plane anyway.
Although some people may find these decisions simple, I do not. I enjoy normalcy and ease. I like to be around familiar people and places. Leaving people I love is the hardest part of every decision. It often feels like the moment I start to figure out my current situation, life has another plan.
As I start my second season with Viteos NUC of Switzerland, I feel grateful for the path that guided me here. I am thankful for the opportunity to make decisions that scare me.
I encourage everyone to step outside his or her comfort zone. If a door opens, and trust me it will, walk through. Do not close it because the other side is unfamiliar. Opportunities will come and go, but the ones that make you uncomfortable are the greatest.
My fears are different now. My fears do not lie in the unknown, but rather in the fact that I may miss out if I do not explore this space.