As an athlete, obviously one of my biggest fears has always been suffering an injury that would prevent me from doing what I love, which is playing the sport I love: soccer.
I remember thinking about how I would react if I were to become seriously injured and unable to play for a long time, putting myself in imaginary situations, and often I would end up thinking that would just never happen to me. Mostly because I didn’t want it to.
That was until this past summer, when I unfortunately tore a lot of ligaments in my knee, requiring surgery and eight months of rehab and recovery, and yet the most devastating part was no soccer.
Of course this news was followed by a lot of tears, as I was missing my senior season and quite frankly was in a lot of pain. I learned though, that it was okay for me to cry and let out my emotions, and that was a big part of why I was able to start to move past it.
Following surgery was a lot of down time, and a lot of time to think. I’ve found through talking to other people that have gone through the same thing that I am, that it is totally normal to think a lot, mostly about negative outcomes that could possibly result from this injury. It’s as if your mind goes through stages of ups and downs. One moment you find yourself worrying that you’ll never be as good as you were before, another you’re so motivated to get back to where you were. All totally normal.
As more time went on, about a couple months into recovery, I still find myself having some days where I am just sad and missing playing, days where I fret that I’ll never be myself again, and some days where I know that I can make it through all of this. Those positive days are the best kind, and I am seeing that there are more of those than the negative ones, but only because I make it that way. If I let myself believe that this experience is life changing for the worse, then I will only let it become that. So, instead I do my best to recognize how this experience can change my life for the better.
Now that I am in control of my thoughts and maintain a positive attitude regarding all of this, I can look back on all of the things I have learned so far. For example, I have recognized that I am blessed that this injury is one of the worst things to happen to me, and that each day I am one step closer to full recovery. I work hard in therapy each and every day and stay motivated to accomplish small goals I set for myself each week.
My best pieces of advice for any athletes who are working through an injury:
-Allow yourself to express your emotions.
-Talk to others who have gone through what you have.
-Turn the negative days into positive ones.
-Take it one day at a time.
-Do what you can to accomplish what you are able to in that moment.
-Spend time watching the sport you play to learn more about it from the sideline.
-Support your teammates in a different kind of way.
-Gain perspective: recognize what can you gain from this that you can apply to the rest of your life.
-Help others who may be going through the same thing.