• nicole calder

A work in progress

The only thing that’s constant in life is change. Our state of mind is never guaranteed. That’s why striving for happiness is an unobtainable feat. Happiness is temporary. As is its opposing emotion, sadness. But each cannot exist without the other. My former blog post was written from a place of clarity, of sound mind. But that isn’t something I experience all the time. Logically, I can understand almost anything put in front of me. So logically, I know this isn’t the end for me with regards to soccer. I know there are great things to come from this adversity. But emotionally? I’m still hurting. I’m still struggling. I’m still grieving. And I’m still healing. And I will be for some time.


That doesn’t mean I don’t have good days, because I do. And that’s one of the most common misperceptions about life – we think it’s a linear journey towards success. But it never is. It’s always filled with obstacles, setbacks, detours, and quite often, entirely different directions. Anyone who has suffered from a mental illness is never fully “cured” – they’re still a work in progress and always will be. And perhaps that’s one of the beautiful things about being human, we’re complex beings with multifaceted emotions.

I’m currently tormented with what my head knows makes logical sense and what my heart is aching for. At what point do you need to accept that the dream and goal you are chasing was never intended for you? Is the universe “testing” you, putting you through these significant adversities so that you can one day assist someone else who goes through similar? Or is the universe guiding you and you’re ignoring its messages? When do you decide to let go of what filled your life with your greatest joy? Can you ever do that without wondering “what if”?


I look at the people who represent our country in an array of different sports and logically, I know they’re not the best. They’re the ones that have been gifted with opportunity and timing. So what do you tell someone who has aspirations of representing their country or playing at the highest level, but a body that has been broken more times than it’s been whole? Or who has had more coaches overlook them than they have advocate for them? Are these all merely obstacles to overcome or are they messages guiding the individual to an alternate life?


One of the things I’ve been struggling with is how, from my experiences, the ones that get ahead in the sporting realm are not the ones that are team players. Not the ones that show great character. It’s the ones that advocate for themselves. The ones that put themselves before the team. The ones that vocally complain. And quite often, those individuals have actually captained their teams. And this isn’t just limited to sport, either. I’ve seen it in academia, in the workplace, and in families. The individuals that make the most noise are the ones that get rewarded. Not the ones that are doing what’s in the best interests of the bigger picture; their team.


Perhaps this is one reason why I’m struggling so much – because I don’t fit in with this dog-eat-dog mentality that is needed to succeed here in the Western world. My heart yearns for something bigger; it yearns for the comradery you build when you sacrifice your own individual performance for the betterment of the team. And I’ve always been that way – putting others before myself because I believe that’s what a leader does. But I ask this question again, where has this mentality gotten me?

In my logical thinking world, I can see how others have achieved their success and I too could make those changes and become my own selfish advocate. But emotionally, it’s just not me. Part of life is accepting all aspects of yourself, even those you wish you could change. I know there’s reasons behind my struggle. And these reasons will probably be so that I can create a team in which the aforementioned self-advocating individuals have no place. Through pain we can create beauty. And I know this. But it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. Life is unfair, I know that. You know that. We all know that. But that knowledge doesn’t stop anyone from feeling the inevitable despair that comes along with that reality.

When it comes to role models, in essence what we see is what they are doing and we aspire to have that. We try to align our paths with theirs. So we do what they did – we commit to that goal. But there’s a fundamental flaw to this: others’ paths are not our own. You can do what the most successful people in the world do and still never become successful. How much of that is within your control and how much of that is beyond our human comprehension? We believe we can achieve anything. And our recent understanding of the brain’s neuroplasticity would support this claim. And it’s a great belief to hold, because control lies within us. But again, it’s flawed. Flawed because it neglects to account for something bigger than our physiology – it neglects to account for the fact that often opportunity dictates our direction in life.

How many people do you know are doing what they always dreamed they would do? And how many people instead have ended up in jobs they never even considered but have since accepted this is actually their path?

I currently sit with a blank space in front of me. I have no idea what I’m doing next year. And that in itself can be overwhelming. And it is at times. We as humans don’t like the unknown. We don’t like surrendering. We don’t like not being in control. And so I’m trying to let go. Letting go of people and things and allowing what is supposed to be to fall into place. But this hasn't been easy. I'm uncomfortable. I'm hurting. I'm struggling. But I know it's necessary. I’ve removed myself from certain environments because they’re too triggering. How can I be around an environment that serves as a constant reminder of what I had, but no longer do? What I could have been, but no longer will? By avoiding these triggers, am I ultimately just prolonging the pain? Or am I doing what I need to survive, to keep my head above the water? Because at times I feel like I’m going under. And I know, this is part of grieving. There’ll be days where you’re swimming comfortably, and others where you’re gasping for air, drowning in your thoughts and emotions. As shit as those days are, deep down I know this is all just an unglorified work in progress.

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