Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Lessons I have learned

A tie is better than a loss, and I will gladly take a single point any day over a big egg from a loss... but I cant say we were happy with a tie yesterday. We ended up tying a team from Moscow yesterday 2-2.  We played the team from my very first game with this team. That day we had won 2-0 and I had scored both goals, this game was a bit different....

It was really great to have a home game for once and not have to jack our bodies up with travel again. We were finally able to get a full night sleep and good pre game meals because we were at home. It was hot but everyone was looking ready to play. It is hard to describe our style of play because I would say that it seemed like we had most of the possession because we were the team kicking it most of the time...but I realized actually that the air had most of the possession and when it was on the ground we were usually the first team around it, so call it what you will. Regardless, we had more chances than they did and were finally able to open up the scoring in about the 40th minute, about 5 minutes after I was subbed into the game. Then in the second half, our team came out of the locker room a bit deflated after half time and tried to hold on to the lead. Unfortunately the other team was able to score 2 back to back goals on free kicks to go into the lead. Then in about the 80th minute Simone hammered home a great header off of a perfect corner from Lena Terekova to tie it up again. And that is how the game ended, 2-2. It was a difficult game, just as all of them have been... and so I go back to what I said at the beginning, I will gladly take the single point from a tie over zero points from a loss, but I cant say we were happy about the tie. 

After the game I called my parents to let them know how it went and in talking with them we were discussing what a crazy ride this has been. As many of you know, this experience for me has been a true roller coaster. It has gone day to day and sometimes even hour to hour. I think that I have experienced a little bit of every emotion. True happiness, pride, joy, and love, but also true anger, frustration, sadness, fear and exhaustion. I was talking with my parents about my plans when I come home and it came up about how long it seems like I have been gone. It is hard to believe I left Colorado in February and now it is June. Where has the time gone? On one hand it seems like those 4 months flew by and I cant believe it is ALREADY June. But when I think about each day and how long some days seemed to last I cant say it has gone by fast. There were some days and some nights that the minutes could have lasted an eternity. 

Then a week ago I had a friend ask me what is the biggest thing I have taken away from here so far... and so, after last nights conversation with my parents, and this big question from my friend, I got to thinking about my time here and my overall thoughts about it. And there are a few big things I have learned about myself in being here....

I have learned how much I need the people I love around me. Although it is preferable to be physically in the presence of those I love, even just being surrounded by them over skype has proved sufficient. In the hardest moments here there has always been an absolutely amazing support group back at home that has never failed to answer the phone, listen to me and offer advice and comforting words. In taking this challenge I thought I was going to learn about how to cope with things on my own, and instead I found that there is absolutely no way and no need to do anything solo. The most important things in my life has always been the relationships I have with people. My relationships with my family and my friends have always taken precedent over anything else in my life although I never fully understood or appreciated that... Being here I have actually realized how important relationships are to me because I can not live without people who love me around me. 

To piggy-back off of that and to fully appreciate the above statement... what I have found is that yes, I admit I do need those people around me because they shower me with love, acceptance, kindness and everything else that has given me strength, but I have also realized that I need them around me just as much to take care of me as I want and need to take care of them. I have realized how much I want to give my love back to the people who have given it to me. They have listened to me every day, through the ups and downs and it has always been so helpful, but I have found that I need just as much to give that support back to them. All relationships are a two way road and I have realized how much I need and want to give back to my relationships as they have given to me. 

Which brings me to the a third thing I have taken away from here... a person whom has given me an incredible amount of support... the Swedish girl, Ximel Bladh. I know that I have mentioned her name and shown pictures of us but she has truly become an amazing friend of mine. Because our team is small and we are restricted by language barriers and a fence around us we were all forced to find someone with whom we could communicate with. Ximel and I, being the only two fluent English speakers, obviously had to become friends... but somewhere through this crazy journey we have crossed the line of just being friends because we both speak english and are in close vicinity every day to being really great friends (buddies, as I call my closest friends). We have spent hours walking around Voronezh, exploring and talking about everything and somewhere in those walks she became a friend that I will always have from here on. I am grateful for this experience because it has brought me a new friend that I have truly connected with. And in return we have helped each other to get through this.

Which brings me to the last and probably biggest thing I have found here... a new strength in myself. Up to this point in my life I feel like I am a positive person and that it takes a lot of particularly well placed pressure to break that... the coaches here have found my Achilles tendon... But, I will say that my string of patience has grown ten times the size it was. Every day I have learned to prepare myself not only physically but also mentally... and still, some days it gets to me, but on the whole I have learned a new level of self control and patience. I have learned to appreciate the slow processes of minor things, like drying my laundry, or the process of traveling (whether its walking from my apartment to downtown or training from Voronezh to Moscow)... all of which take time and no matter how bored or frustrated I might be, will not go any faster. But... this new patience has given me strength not just for making time pass but it has given me strength to keep my chin up even when I thought I could not. To know that no matter how much I am yelled at and no matter what is said making mistakes is ok. It happens to everyone all the time and I should not be afraid of that. Patience has let me put aside the frustration and anger I feel and helps me to keep a level head to learn from the mistake rather than fear it.

And that is why I treasure this experience and it has been worth more than money and maybe even more than football. It has become a very important story in my life that I will have forever.

I love you all back at home!



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