Vanilla ice cream or chocolate cake? Close your eyes take a deep breath and just pick one. Go with your heart, rely on your gut. It’s really not that hard. I mean for me of course I would have chosen a slice of chocolate cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side, but some people might have found that choice quite hard.
My choice this year was a little bigger than just vanilla ice cream or chocolate cake. It was; finish the final year of my Bachelor of Education degree or take a gap year and allow my serious back injury to heal (we’ll get back to this – no pun intended.); to find myself again and to focus on me and my well-being. I tried the whole close your eyes, take a deep breath and just make a decision; but wow! It’s the most important decision I’ve ever had to make, especially where everyone (and I mean everyone) had an opinion on what the right decision should be.
I have always been one to keep everyone happy; I listen to what people say and watch what they do; to what they say I should do and that way everyone is kept happy. Everyone except myself. I realised that leaving my almost finished degree on hold for a year was a lot bigger than just keeping everyone happy. It was a decision that would end up defining the rest of my life. Yes, it sounds a bit dramatic but let me explain.
If you asked anyone that knows me to describe me in one word, you’d probably get the following responses; sporty, fast, fit and competitive. I am all four to an extent. I’m extremely competitive, if they are keeping score or tracking your place in a run. I HAVE TO WIN. I HAVE TO HAVE THE HIGHEST SCORE. I HATE LOSING!
This is why I push myself to be so fast and fit. Out of all four of those descriptions of me, the one I truly believe down to my core is ‘sporty’. I love life because of sports, I went to school because I had sports on in the afternoon, not because I had a math test. I love the feeling of pushing your body to its extreme and trusting it enough not to give up on you. It’s the beauty of throwing yourself off a spring board and manipulating your body into different position, then landing as straight as a pin into a swimming pool. Its playing touch rugby and catching the ball and running as fast as your legs can carry you to score the winning try for your team, or finally hitting the perfect reverse stick shot in hockey, after the fifty times you got it wrong. These moments kept me going in life, they kept me motivated and determined; they reminded me that if I could do all of that on a sports field, I could get through anything life throws at me.
At the begining of the year I had been training hard for the Inter Provincial Touch Rugby Tournament in March 2018, I was feeling fit and ready. We had lost in the final the year before, by one try and this would be our year to bring home the gold.
One Friday afternoon towards the beginning of February, a friend messaged me and said she had a ticket for a 10km race that night (for Valentine’s Day) which she couldn’t do. Long story short, I ran the 10km. I really enjoyed it, got a personal best time; I was feeling great; only problem being that I could hardly walk after I crossed the finish line. So I did what any good runner would do (Shout out to Uncle Ronnie.) I cracked open a beer and sat down to assess the situation. Worst mistake was sitting down. I took the weekend off from training and tried to rest but the pain just wouldn’t leave. So I tried my Chiropractor, he manipulated my back and said he feels it is something more serious and that I needed to have a MRI. I felt if I just took a week off I’d be fine. Came back after a week and tried to run and my toes went numb, between my coach and my chiropractor I went for the MRI which came back showing two semi herniated discs. No sport for 5 months, no varsity for 6 weeks, no sitting, no running, and no holding anything. Basically all I was allowed to do was lie down, but that hurt so much it wasn’t worth it.
No sport for 5 months meant no hockey, no IPTs from which they would choose the South African ladies squad for the World Cup in Malaysia in 2019. I was devastated. I realised that I was a comfort eater and finished two packs of zoo biscuits and 3 slabs of top deck chocolate, in the first week. I did feel slightly better. For the most part, I was angry at my body, I felt completely defeated and betrayed by it and by life.
I couldn’t understand why God had allowed this to happen, He blessed me with this incredible talent and when I thought it was the right time to be part of a potential gold winning team, to maybe be selected for the SA ladies squad. God had another plan.
In a very dark space I decided to pray and ask God what his plan was and what I was supposed to do now. His response was that I needed to take time out for myself; time to make me whole again, time to heal my heart and my body. So I decided to put my degree on hold. It was to-date the hardest decision I have ever made. I have always wanted to be a teacher. In 2014 when I applied to university my three choices were, teaching, teaching and teaching. When I received offers from two institutions to study teaching, I realized how close I was to pursuing the passion that was inside of me.
But now I couldn’t play sports and to the world around me, I was dropping out of my degree. However to date it was the best decision I have ever made. I went down to the IPT and watched my team (Gauteng Ladies A team) win gold. I may have watched but I was still part of the team. I had the privilege of coaching the ladies B team, I was able to use my talent in a different way. Gods plan was very different to my plan but I still used the abilities He gave me.
I made the South African ladies squad and was healed enough to attend my first training camp, it was a very overwhelming experience to train alongside the best of the best.
This year so far has taught me some of the hardest most valuable lessons and I will cherish them and have learnt to grow up through them.
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