World Cup Therapy

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Sometimes I lament the fact that I work most weeknights. Ya know, work schedules and stuff. I can have such terrible FOMO.

But as a World Cup fanatic, I’ve been quite grateful for my work schedule the last couple weeks. And I might not entirely be a fanatic. I don’t paint my face as I sit on the couch and yell for teams I wouldn’t normally root for. But I do sit on the couch for every game and yell for teams I wouldn’t normally root for.

Most World Cups I have to miss games because ya know, work schedules and stuff. And it kills me. But because of this one’s location, I’ve missed very few. Sure it’s required being up at 3am at times and working (or sleeping) at halftime and inbetween games but so worth it.

I don’t much respect FIFA but the competition and competitors that make up that which is truly the heart of the World Cup speaks to me. It represents so much. Memories of my own competitive soccer experience. Excellence. Individuals coming together to work toward a common goal. The combination of grace and power that is a dance. It truly is the beautiful game.

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Soccer used to be my main squeeze. I played every chance I got. I coached. I reffed. Yep, I was that jerk! I got up at 3am to watch games that weren’t even part of the World Cup. It made me who I am. It was my therapy long before I knew what therapy was.

If I felt angry, I took it out on the soccer ball. Or a player on the other team. Just kidding! If I felt sad, that sadness melted away as soon as I put my cleats on. If I was scared or anxious, I could put that energy toward soccer instead. If I needed some alone time I took the ball and practiced juggling, shooting, or dribbling on my own. The soccer field (or any patch of grass… or dirt) was my happy place.

Soccer taught me a lot. Discipline. Hard work. Dedication. Teamwork. Patience. Responsibility. Time management. Being in the zone. Soccer gave me a lot. An outlet. Joy. Physical strength, speed, and endurance. A place where I belonged. I felt so alive on the pitch. And I was good at it. So I kept doing it. I couldn’t get enough.

Until a major knee injury sidelined me and I decided not to play anymore. I’d had a good run. But I didn’t trust the other players anymore. And it was more important to be able to walk with ease in my senior years.

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That was sad. I felt a bit lost. I didn’t know myself entirely without soccer.

Luckily I’d developed other passions along the way so I wasn’t completely lost. And I felt a lot of gratitude that I was still able to participate in all the other physical activities I enjoy. Still the end of my soccer playing was like that slow breakup where you know you’ll still see the person from time to time and it’s both bittersweet and comforting.

So now I have to get my soccer therapy vicariously through others who still play. And as much as I miss being out there that’s okay. At times I feel my feet move in the way they would on the field if I was the one out there. In watching the world’s greatest work their magic, I feel my own freedom, joy, and inspiration to be my best too.

And that’s what therapy does. No matter the form in which it comes. It helps us process our thoughts, emotions, and experiences so that we can go on to be the greatest versions of ourselves as possible.