A poem I wrote which turned into a short film. I wanted to express something that is really important to me, and I hope it comes across. This is a With Grace short film, there will be plenty more to come.
My grandmother always tells me, “Life’s a Battle” whenever I tell her about problems I am having. I have pondered on this many times, because every challenge I conquer seems to be greeted with more challenges. I see this in others, and most recently, I have seen this in myself; I achieved so much graduating from University and then entered the professional world like a freshman again. I recently had to leave the team I was playing in Caguas, Puerto Rico due to a stress fracture in my shin. I am very grateful for my experiences in Puerto Rico, but I am also disappointed that I wasn’t able to finish the season and demonstrate my full potential. Disappointed too that my first pro experience in Turkey was terminated before it had even got started because they wanted someone else. I now am nervous that this will hurt my next season, putting me at a disadvantage from the start. But through my experiences, I know that if I am willing to take a few hits, I will gain something worth fighting for.
In University I learned the hard way that there is glory in every battle. Its tough being an athlete because you witness the worst and best of people. While some can challenge you and become a new member of your family, others can make you hate what you’re doing. There are those I’ve met along the way that have single handedly and in a moment made me want to quit what I’m doing because of their relentless hatred for me. Whether it was giggles, teasing, bullying, or simply a look of disgust, they almost broke me down to the point where I didn’t want to continue being on a team. At times I would fake strength and try to stick up for myself, but at the end of the day, my confidence was distorted.
In sports you are constantly fighting; every bone, muscle, thought, and particle of energy in your body is pushing and shoving you to be ‘the best’. You're fighting with your teammates to be the best on the team, and you're fighting opposing teams to be the best in the league. And the hardest part of it all is that you’re fighting yourself; everyday you wake up and have to remind yourself its a war and you have to be ready to battle. Some days you’re telling yourself you aren’t good enough, and to be honest, the majority of the people around you want to see you fail so they can succeed. Unfortunately, every ounce of doubt brings you even closer to failure. Imagine a force of water pushing against a wall, if the wall cracks even slightly, the water has the ability to sweep down the entire wall down. I’ve often felt like vulnerable prey as wild animals take turns to attempt to bring me down.
Life's a battle, and the only way to rise is to fight. When you allow others to have power to control your confidence levels, then you have lost the battle. Fight!! Once I decided not to allow others to control me, I had won. Don’t get me wrong, this alone has been extremely hard and I still can’t even say I do this on a consistent basis, but this is what I am working towards. I see this in so many people and have been often shook by the lengths at which this can seriously hurt people. But I am so happy when I read blogs and hear stories about how people are taking charge of themselves with confidence, not letting others bring them down. And when we achieve that sort of power within ourselves, we will see the best outcomes. For example, when I was fueled by doubt by those around me, I finally achieved what I had been trying to achieve since day one at University. I was Player of the Year, Academic and Athletic All-American, Senior CLASS Award Finalist, Magna Cum Laude Graduate, and Scholar-Athlete of the Year. It was almost like a ‘Fuck You’ to anyone who ever doubted me, and a ‘Thank You’ to anyone who supported me. I now try and take on life with a fighting attitude, I won’t rest until the battle has been won.
In Puerto Rico I met an amazing photographer named Steph Segarra. She has a very unique style and I really enjoyed working with her on a collaboration between fashion and sports. We wanted to do a shoot that showed both of our experiences: Steph being a stylistic photographer that makes the mundane beautiful, with myself being an experienced athlete and artist. I really love the outcome because it's very different to other photographs of me, and we had a lot of fun shooting it. I genuinely wish her the best in her future endeavors. Check out her blog here (http://stephsegarra.tumblr.com)