When I was in college I was a softball player. I played for Harvard with an amazing group of women, many of whom I still consider to be some of my closest friends. As both a team and a close group of friends, we had ups and downs, celebrations and failures. We won an Ivy Championship, and we lost one as well. Every day we went to war together, and every day we came back stronger for it.
I only played softball for 2.5 years at Harvard. My third year was cut short due to a very personal illness. I opened up to my teammates, confided in them as to what was going on, explained that I was being neither a good person to myself nor a good teammate to them, and I stepped back from the team. Deciding to stop playing softball was the hardest decision I’ve ever made. Shortly after I left softball, I left school. My time right after I quit softball and took time off school was one of the loneliest, hardest times in my life. I floundered, unsure of who I was without the sport that had defined me my entire life, who I wanted to be, and who I could be.
After leaving softball and school, I was alone. I had lost two families – my family at home dealing with an intense divorce, and my team, the wonderful friends I had for so many years. Everyone was gone. I say all of this not for for pity. I removed myself from a situation and people moved on. I wanted them to. I removed myself in the first place so that they could move on, grow, and fluorish. And they did. In 2011, Harvard won the Ivy Title again.
I give you this backstory to explain my apprehension and anxiety about this coming weekend. For the first time in almost 3 years, I will pick up a softball again, put on a glove again, and wear my cleats again to play in an alumni game. With the game coming up, I can’t help but think of where I have come and who I have become in these past three years since I last picked up a softball:
I graduated from college – something my family wasn’t sure I’d do if I took the year off from school. I found advertising and marketing. I got a dream job at a huge agency. I’m living with the love of my life. My sister and I are closer than ever. I’m a runner now. I love cooking. And I’ve recently taken up boxing.
But of all of these things, the most important thing is that I’ve learned is to be content with who I am and where I am at any given moment. Do I always know exactly where I’m going? No. Do I still sometimes question who I am, what I stand for? Of course. But I’m OK with that. I’m OK with me. I take it a day at a time and never take a single moment for granted. It took me three long years to realize that.
So, playing in the alumni game is going to be nerve-wracking. I will not only be playing a sport I haven’t played in 3 years and walked away from very abruptly, but I will be seeing many of the people who were there with me 3 years ago when I decided to walk away. I feel like a bit of an outcast from them, but I just hope that this game will help them remember, and help me remember, the great times we all shared on that field. One thing I do know – as of game day, I will truly be able to see just how far I’ve come since my last game day.