Life is interesting being a female. All your life you're told that you can do anything.
But is it true?
It's funny because I think I went through phases. When I was little I believed I could truly do anything. I could go to the moon, play professional soccer, invent the next greatest thing and become a millionaire. As I got older, the thought became that I could do some things, but probably not everything. I could possibly play professional soccer, if there was a league. The moon didn't seem too realistic and the only thing I might be able to invent was myself. And now, in my late 20s, I have fallen back to the beliefs of my youth and think anything is possible.
I'm not sure if this is the case for everyone. And I don't know that I would have ever had this realization had I not kicked a soccer ball for 23 years.
Here's the thing. I've been coaching a lot of little girls lately. Every time we work on a new skill I tell them they can do it. Three quarters of them look at me like I'm crazy. Like juggling is the most impossible task in the world. The others look at me as though I have all the answers, and one of them is knowing that they CAN do it.
The ones that believe are okay. What scares me are the ones that don't.
Why would I be scared? Well, I guess the time to believe in anything is when you're young. You don't know any better than to think anything is possible. So why wouldn't these girls believe me when I tell them they can do it? I can go right ahead and say parenting or teachers or coaches. Because these are the people influencing kids. Right? But I just can't imagine these people telling girls they can't do it.
What could it be?
I'm not even really sure I have an answer. But I do know what a lifetime of playing soccer can do for someone's confidence. And for someone's belief in the seemingly impossible.
I started kindergarten a year too early. According to the book Outliers by Maclcom Gladwell, if I had continued on the path of being a really young starter, I would have fallen behind significantly. My parents held me back to a transitional grade before entering first grade. This way, I was actually one of the older kids in my grade. And it changed my life forever.
I was able to accomplish small things. But I'm not talking about just the classroom. I'm talking about on the field. Every time I was able to do one thing, I moved on to the next. By the time I was 10 I could juggle over 200 times. And when I was 15 I was up to 740. I saw the progression. Not just in juggling but in everything I did on the field.
I have always used juggling as a bench mark in my life. The older I've gotten, the more I'm able to do. Because I've been working on it, yes, but also because I believe that I can do it. I know that I'm capable. I know that I've always been able to improve on my self, regardless of the circumstances in my life.
I dreamt of going to college and getting a scholarship so my parents didn't have to pay. I dreamt of being a professional soccer player. I dreamt of playing on TV and traveling around the world. I dreamt of being a writer and of one day writing a book. And I continue to dream and believe.
This is something I take pride in and I want to pass on to others.
Anything is possible. Not because I'm some corny optimist. I'm definitely not. I've just learned that if you want something and you have that almost-arrogant self-belief, anything really is possible.
Soccer has done a lot of things for me, but instilling the belief that there is no limit to your life is something I value more than most others.
This is why every December 5, when I turn a year older, I know that the 365 days ahead of me can be jam packed with absolutely anything I want.
And one of those days, NASA is going to call for me to be the first woman to juggle a soccer ball on the moon.
Hey, why not??