With yesterday being the official start of FIFA 2014, I thought it would be only fitting that I share a soccer-related experience that happened last week.

Ten years ago, a neighborhood friend invited me to be on a soccer team with her. A few years after that, another friend invited me to join her competitive soccer team. I tried out for my high school team twice (I didn't make the cut, which was heartbreaking, but with some distance I was able to realize that I couldn't let someone else's decision define me...or my happiness. Ironically, it also led to eating disorder #1. ) and a few years after that, I found myself captain of a different competitive soccer team three years in a row.

Our last game of the season, we were second in our division.

The winter of my Junior year of high school was when the eating disorder, which had been consuming me for years, decided to consume the things that I enjoyed most--including soccer.

As I gained weight, I wasn't able to play as well as once could. As a result, I lost my position as captain, and slowly my coaches stopped letting me start games or sub in for other players. I was an unwanted bench-warmer.

Shortly after the spring soccer season of that year, I quit playing competitively (Actually, I wasn't invited back for the following season) and decided to play for a rec team instead. Initially, I was fine, but as the new season progressed, I realized that I just wasn't who I used to be--mentally, or athletically.
I couldn't run, I couldn't score, I couldn't breathe, and depression set in.

So I quit completely.

Last week we had had Frontier Night here at Aspen Grove and I was in charge of the shaved ice stand with friends from work (I've pretty much mastered the art of placing two or more flavors side-by-side on a cone).  While we were together, I heard from a friend, Hayley, that one of the families staying with us had challenged our staff to a soccer game (I think the main reason we ended up agreeing to play was due to the excessive amount of trash talking coming from some twelve year old kids... our pride couldn't resist the challenge).

I'll tell the rest of the story straight from my journal:

"I just got done playing a staff-guest soccer game and it was so much fun! I haven't played in a year due to self-esteem and eating issues, but today I played great because I finally didn't care about what anyone else thought of me. I made some great crosses, and was complimented by my co-workers! It was so much fun even though we lost. I can't believe I almost said no to playing! I guess it's true that all anyone ever needs is five seconds of courage, I'm so glad I found mine!"

In that moment I proved to myself that I was good enough to do anything I set my mind to. I realized that I am no longer an eating disorder or a side-effect of depression.

Ultimately, I decided to no longer deny myself simple pleasures in life because of a number on a scale or clothing tag.

...Man, I love soccer.

"Soccer is the world's favorite sport."

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