The path traveled to get me where I am today is complex. Many bumps, unexpected turns and leaps of faith are part of my journey. I am often reminded how unpredictable life is and believe opportunities which terrify me come around most often.
I have not always been an adventurous, world-traveling gypsy. In fact, at the age of 18 I was the exact opposite. I liked to travel by day, but enjoyed the comforts of home at night. Leaving home for an extended period of time was not something I looked forward to.
However, volleyball had other plans for me. The sport wanted to show me places I have never seen, introduce me to people unlike myself and broaden my life perspective.
I am fortunate to have parents who encouraged me to pursue volleyball at a collegiate level in the United States. Although playing for an NCAA program interested me, I did not have the guts to do it by myself. Without the support of my family and friends I would never taken the initial step to leave home.
The photos from my going away party in 2008 sum up my feelings. When I look back at the album I laugh. I was quite dramatic and completely unaware of what was to come.
I thought the world was ending. In my eyes, life was over and it would never be the same. Although change was on the horizon, I failed to realize the significance. My innocent and naive eyes did not see past the friends I was leaving and the family I would miss.
My first month at the University of Colorado was a struggle. I wrote dramatic entries in a diary and cried myself to sleep a few too many nights. I was convinced I would never last. I believed I was incapable of feeling happy again.
After a few months in Boulder, Colorado my eyes opened to a new world. I made connections with people outside of Selkirk, Manitoba and started to enjoy my life away from home. Eventually, I fully embraced the new life I created for myself.
Upon graduating from college, the opportunity to play professional volleyball arose. I was thrilled, but anxious. Everything and everyone I knew would change yet again. As I prepared to embark on a new adventure, the feelings of uncertainty and terror came rushing back.
Thoughts of failure consumed my mind. I created multiple scenarios in my head of all things that could go wrong. I felt like my worried 18-year-old self that did not want to experience change. In the same breath, I knew that the first leap of faith was all it took to understand what life is about.
It showed me that life often begins when you step outside your comfort zone and the decisions that scare you are the ones worth taking.
The decisions I made have not always worked out as planned. However, I would not be standing where I am today if I turned a cold shoulder to them. Trust me, I wanted to many times. Some of the major bumps along the way ended up providing me the most reward.
My sophomore year at University of Colorado was challenging due to unforeseen coaching changes. I was forced to decide if I wanted to keep playing collegiate volleyball at a different school or return home. Transferring felt risky, but I did it anyway.
My first season playing volleyball abroad in Austria was stressful and gruelling. The team could not provide me with a VISA and going home was my best option. Five hours before my scheduled flight, my agent contacted me. He asked me to get on a train to Germany and try-out with a new team. The thought of staying in Europe and continuing to play professionally was unimaginable. However, I canceled my flight and got on the train anyway.
After a long summer training with the Canadian National team and the loss of a couple special people in my life, I was ready to be home. I found comfort in my family and friends and began to relax. Soon after feeling at ease, I got an offer to play for a team in Switzerland. A six-month season abroad did not sound appealing, nevertheless I hopped on a plane anyway.
Although some people may find these decisions simple, I do not. I enjoy normalcy and ease. I like to be around familiar people and places. Leaving people I love is the hardest part of every decision. It often feels like the moment I start to figure out my current situation, life has another plan.
As I start my second season with Viteos NUC of Switzerland, I feel grateful for the path that guided me here. I am thankful for the opportunity to make decisions that scare me.
I encourage everyone to step outside his or her comfort zone. If a door opens, and trust me it will, walk through. Do not close it because the other side is unfamiliar. Opportunities will come and go, but the ones that make you uncomfortable are the greatest.
My fears are different now. My fears do not lie in the unknown, but rather in the fact that I may miss out if I do not explore this space.