By: Chelsea Poppens
Time never stops.
It’s always ticking,
Do you watch, waiting for it to stop?
Yet, even when your clock ceases,
Time still keeps ticking.
Blazing a straight path forward,
Never to backtrack.
Not sparing you a glance once it’s lost you.
Along the way you stumble,
Stuck forever chasing seconds long gone.
Never gaining an inch.
Desperately clinging to every one you touch-
Sometimes not hard enough.
Running that impossible race against time.
But, maybe it’s not a race at all.
Maybe it’s just simply life.
Maybe it’s not a countdown.
Maybe it was never meant to be counted at all.
7 teams, 6 blog posts, 5 countries, 4 years, 3 knee operations, 2 surgeons, and only 1 me. Let the countdown or count-up begin, or continue I suppose. Whatever way you choose to look at it…
Let’s face it, this life is just a compilation of numbers. Between counting how old you are and fearing the days you have left, how long you’ve worked the same job, how many years your body will allow you to continue playing, how there’s never enough hours in the day to accomplish what you want to, how many pizza slices you’ve eaten over your limit that you’re going to pretend didn’t happen, or how many days you’ve somehow successfully stuck to your diet. Constantly counting…
I suppose it’s due time for this greatly put-off update on my life situation, starting with the most dramatic one- the 3rd knee operation I had back in September for the torn ACL that occurred in Puerto Rico playing for less than 8 minutes in the first game and less than 48 hours being there. After 3 years of rehab, blogging about the process, and the emotions that come along with it, talking about it gets a bit monotonous and repetitive. The emotions are still there, but you learn to bury them and become numb to them. There’s no longer any room to feel sorry for yourself. This ain’t your first rodeo, and nobody likes to hear the same sob story on repeat.
So let’s skip to the key stuff. I am doing my MBA online through the University of Florida and working as a sales rep for a medical imaging equipment company. On the side, I am rehabbing my knee. To say I am keeping busy is an understatement, but you could say I’m less busy than I was right after my surgery. I guess I came back to Florida trying to hit the ground running and have absolutely no time to think about my recurring, unlucky circumstances. I was on a power trip thinking I could do anything I put my mind to and that I did. Oh buddy- I got 2 jobs as soon as I got back, jumped into 9 credits in my MBA program, was rehabbing my knee, and had absolutely NO social life. If you don’t know already, rehab for a professional athlete is a full-time job in and of itself. It worked though, for a time, but you can only bottle everything up for so long and attempt to balance it all.
I guess that I’ve been through this unfortunate situation enough that I understood what I needed to do for my well-being and sanity. But at the end of the day, you can’t fix cracks in your foundation with super glue and duck-tape and expect it to hold up. Those cracks always show up eventually.
Luckily, my credits decreased to 6 and I dropped one of my jobs. It was just that time.
But through this experience, I’ve come to understand that when you’ve already visited the dark places inside yourself and gotten to know them, you no longer fear them. They become old friends and you already know what it takes to crawl out of that hole. Though, each time is slightly different and you meet new, amazing people on the way out that lend you a hand and help you along the way.
The knee rehab is a permanent part of my story, but let’s step away from that for a moment and focus on something else, a new part of my life, something I’d long put-off (for good reason, it seems)- the inevitable, unavoidable role of “Adulting”.
I will say, it was exciting at first to have some sort of responsibility and a routine to my life after it took another downward spin. I was so excited to get not one, but TWO jobs as soon as I got to Fort Myers. It gave me a sense of worth and identity, outside of simply being an “athlete”; some place that still counts on me to show up and accomplish something. Still, I find myself in a rut some days. I know it can be just a phase where you kind of go through the motions to get to the next day. You wake up, workout, work, do homework or whatever you usually do (family time, drinking wine, mindless tv, vodka, whatever your thing is; I’m not judging. I get it, I do!) It’s a constant battle to balance everything, and I can barely do it with just myself and whatever baggage I’ve accumulated emotionally/physically.
Let me just say this with every ounce of respect in my being:
I don’t know how you people with families and kids do it. YOU ARE AMAZING! YOU ARE A SUPERHERO absolutely crushing life! Maybe you don’t feel like you are but just scraping by is still an accomplishment alone.
On a side note of that, I can completely understand how you might get slightly lost along the way. With me just balancing work, working out, school, rehab, and barely a social life is rough enough as it is. (And not to mention, I’m STILL single and my parents worry about me more than I worry about myself some days.) However, I can completely see how working, trying to be a good wife/husband, mom/dad, friend, and all those different roles can put you completely out of balance and throw you through a loop. It’s beyond difficult, if not on the verge of impossible. So, KUDOS to you for doing it all and being a superhero in a sense; life isn’t easy, especially when you have other people counting or leaning on you. I just thought this section was necessary in honor of those out there being an absolute BOSS at life.
What I’ve come to learn about “Adulting” so far and from others who have far more experience and training in it:
When you are constantly balancing a million things, something is going to take a backseat. It’s all about prioritizing and being able to understand that you really can’t do it all. Or maybe you can do it all, but not to the quality that you or someone else needs it at. I found myself spread thin and not able to put enough energy or time into what was on my plate. If you’re my friend or family you know that my plate is usually full in all forms of that phrase 😉 …
I am not one to want to do something halfway, but I am someone that wants to do it all. I’ve learned I can’t give 100% of myself into something when I have a million “somethings” going on all at once. At some point you’re going to drop the ball and one of those things is going to spin out of control or simply be forgotten. At that point you feel a mess, like you’re dropping pieces of yourself left and right. Sometimes scrambling to pick them up, while dropping others (probably more important ones) in the process. The reality of it all is this: it doesn’t matter how many pieces you pick up, if you can’t hold them all.
So when life gets to this point and you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, remember to sit down, breathe, and take a minute (probably longer) to reprioritize. Also, I think it’s important to not let yourself go so blind that you only see what you aren’t accomplishing and none of what you are or have already accomplished. I had to remind myself to look back at where I was a few months ago to see how far I’ve come; instead of only seeing how far I had left to go. Sometimes you get so caught up trying to blaze a trail forward that you forget to sit and appreciate the road you had to take to get where you are now. Give yourself some credit. You’re not supposed to be “perfect” or “flawless”. You are perfect, right as you are.
What fun would perfect be anyway? What would you have left to strive for?
Think of it like this: nobody really likes reading about someone with the perfect journey, who has it all together, who never lost their way, or who never lost their balance in life. The best movies also aren’t the ones about people who didn’t struggle. Be honest, in the back of your mind, those are the people that you kind of, secretly, want to trip anyway… at least once to see how/if they rise. 😉
I heard the phrase “I love you, right where you are” the other day from a friend. I think that rings true to most of you as well. God loves you, right where you are… the hot mess you are some days and the absolute BOSS you are on others. You’re not doing it wrong. You’re just not thinking it right.
Finally, to answer that dreaded question of if I plan on going back to basketball: Honestly, I haven’t given too much thought about if it. I think I’ve just come to the understanding that nothing I plan, goes as planned. All I can do is control the controllable and what’s happening in the now. My focus, at the moment, is work, school, surviving the daily grind at times, rehabbing, and trying to find happiness and light where I can. Also, I really just want to get healthy and then take it from there. God will throw me the things that are necessary for my life journey and take away the rest. In the meantime, I will wait for him to show me what’s next…