Growing up I wanted to be a point guard in the WNBA. It was more than a passing phase of childhood. It was hours and hours spent training in the driveway. It was watching the greats on TV. It was collecting cards. It was dressing the part. We had our own basketball goal but our driveway was slanted so I had to use a little more umphf shooting from one side and not the other. Even so, it served its purpose of keeping a young girls dreams alive.
I was a tiny little thing growing up; stuck at about 5’1” and cried myself to sleep about it. I can remember the prayers I used to pray over and over hoping God would have mercy on me and make me grow. It sounded something like this:
Dear Heavenly Father, please make me grow. I need to be 6’2” but I would still be happy at 6’0”. I’m so sick of being so short. It’s embarrassing. I can’t imagine how all these short adults feel having to walk around being so short all the time. Lord, can you please make it happen overnight? Please please please just let me wake up at 6’2”. Don’t worry about all my clothes. I can save my money and buy new ones. Thank you in advance! In Jesus name, Amen!
I’m laughing now thinking about it. The heart of a 12-year-old crying out in pain. In case you’re wondering, God has yet to answer my prayer exactly how I wanted him too. I did grow; but I’m not 6’2”.
Long story short, my dreams of the WNBA fizzled. I didn’t even play basketball in college; although I had every intension of doing so for a long time. By a wild turn of events, I received a volleyball scholarship to a small private university. It wasn’t much but I didn’t deserve any more. I was an athlete, sure; but I was not a volleyball player. Throughout my 4 seasons of college volleyball, I worked hard to develop my athletic ability. Although the WNBA didn’t quite pan-out I still had/have this desire to be more, to become more. And yes, I finally got my shot. I got the opportunity to play professional volleyball in Europe after college. And yes, I still am a professional volleyball player in Europe.
On the one hand, professional athlete is freaking cool. I train. I lift. I sleep. I eat. I repeat. I mean, it’s fun; it’s exciting; it’s prestigious. However, it is also a lot of hard work, frustration and stress. But it’s worth it! Sports build character. I learn life lessons and better myself as a person through fitness.
As a young girl, I had another dream. Different than playing in the WNBA but a dream all the same. I wanted to be married by 25 and start having kids by 28. I wanted to be one of those cool moms/wives who are organized but not rigid. I wanted my husband to be so handsome that all my friends were jealous. I’ve always been very particular about things I like and dislike. It wasn’t that I wanted him to be tall, dark and handsome. It was that and much more! He had to be taller than me. He had to be athletic. He had to have a big chest, calves, and booty. I was also hoping for a 5 o’clock shadow. Oh maybe he will have a sexy accent; because who doesn’t love that! Through a wild turn of events, I found my man. It wasn’t who I thought it would be, no. But that’s a story for another day.
On the one hand, I married my lover more than a year ago now. I’m a housewife which is equally cool. I cook. I clean. I do laundry. I grocery shop. I sex. I repeat. However, I mean, it might not be as prestigious. And yes, it’s hard work, frustrating and stressful. But it’s worth it because the rewards, the character building opportunities and the special bond of a lifetime are unmatched.
Now, balancing these two things is a circus act sometimes. I thought I was good at multitasking in college; it doesn’t even compare to what I am capable of now. I’m not perfect. I’m learning. That’s the beauty of it. Just the other day I missed a work meeting completely. I just didn’t even go. I totally forgot. I forgot so bad that I didn’t even remember I missed it until like 3 days later when someone asked where I was.
My childhood dreams came true on two fronts and they collided; professional athlete vs. housewife. I realize there are very few women in my exact shoes. But there are millions of women feeling the same pressure; stuck between two things. Feeling pulled by both. Mine may be different from yours but I’m sure you can relate. It’s challenging. It’s a battle. It’s a constant fight. But that fight isn’t with my husband or my career. It’s with myself. I struggle about what it means to be a wife just as much as it mean to be an athlete at this level. I struggle with what society tells me I should do or look like or wear or say or treat my husband or do.
I always thought, once you got married things would just gel. What could go wrong? You’re soul mates; it’s happily ever after, right? I also thought once you were a pro; what else is there to learn? What could a coach possibly teach me? Yes, call me naïve. I found it so easy to overlook the little things. Now, I know, it is all about the little things!
Learning to be both is hard. Learning to be good at both is harder. This line of thought only leads me to more questions; what do a good wife look like? What does a good wife do? What does a professional athlete look like? What does a professional athlete do?
While I wish I had the answer, I don’t. I can only share my strategies and mindset while I navigate through this time. One tip I will give you is, it is all about effort. You know when you are holding back; you know when you are not trying your hardest; you know when you are mixing up your priorities; you know when you are not giving your best. You might be able to go day in and day out fooling everyone around you; but at the end of the day, you know. Doing something halfway is never a good feeling. Give effort to both things that you can be proud of!
I challenge you first to prioritize your time. Decide what’s THE MOST important and give your time to that first; then decide what is second most important and give your time to that second, and so on. Then as best you can, you can try to compartmentalize. For example, if your first priority is your marriage and you are home with your spouse… BE at home with them. Put down your phone. Turn off Netflix. Stop emailing. You are taking time from your “first” priority and giving to all the others, some of which are 5th, 6th, or 7th on the priority list. I challenge you prioritize, compartmentalize, then to really try your best, your hardest. You won’t regret something if you know you honestly gave your best effort.
Being pulled between two major commitments is difficult. Phases of life come and go. Don’t get defeated or spooked when it isn’t like you planned it. Roll with the punches. Develop a learning mentality towards each circumstance.