2022 was a big year for me. I signed my first semi professional football contract, I graduated high school and started college. Those are just the tangible things. So many moments were lived in private, below the surface. The struggles, the heartbreaks, the disappointments – we don’t tend to share those. This year has been filled with both, extreme highs and extreme lows. I’ve learned and grown immensely, more than previous years. Looking back, I’m filled with a sense of nostalgia. I see myself in January as still a young girl who hadn’t yet experienced the world in the way she would soon. In the best way possible, she was more innocent and naive than who I am now. A part of me misses her but I’m ready to enter the new year with the woman I am today. 2022 has given me hope for the coming years. In hindsight, I’ve experienced a complete evolution. I wouldn’t have guessed any of what has happened the last twelve months. It was beyond what I imagined for myself, and that brings me the utmost excitement when I think about the future.

To all the people who were with me throughout the year, for a short or a long time, thank you. It wouldn’t have been the same without you. I’ve laughed with some, cried over others, but in the end I learned something from every greeting and goodbye. Each of you served a purpose in my life this year and that doesn’t go unnoticed.

I decided to make a year recap on Instagram, and it really put 2022 into perspective for me. The amount of things I’ve been through, accomplished, hoped and dreamed for in this year alone is ridiculous. In January, I was trying out for League1BC with no expectation to ever be considered. And to think I was signed? Insane. In January, I hardly knew I was going to graduate. The feeling of walking across the stage in front of my family and best friend, wearing the classic blue cap and gown? Unreal. In January, I had no idea I would be going to college the very same year. Finishing my first semester with a 4.0 GPA? Overjoyed.

I’ve learned a few valuable things this year that I would love to share with you. These are my top three takeaways from 2022.

No. 1: Being comfortable being uncomfortable. In 2022, I pushed myself to the max with football, my education and relationships. There were times when all I wanted to do was curl up into a ball and cry. When I played in my first League1BC match, I felt faint from the adrenaline. Almost every practice with the mens team I trained with made my heart race. I felt sick to my stomach walking into my first college class and taking my first midterm. These moments could have defined me. They could have been my limit. As far as I’m willing to go, as far as I’m willing to be uncomfortable. But with kindness and patience and an overwhelming amount of support, I showed up. I stepped onto the pitch, even when my legs felt shaky. I tied up my laces even when I would’ve rather run away and hid. I took a deep breath before walking into my classes and exams. I sat with being uncomfortable, and I saw it through to the other side. This has been one of my greatest takeaways from 2022. Each of those uncomfortable-nail-biting-skin-crawling-moments have been the ones I take the most pride in. When you’re willing to be uncomfortable for the sake of your betterment, you grow tremendously as a student, athlete, friend, and person. I hope this is a lesson I can refer back to during the challenges I may face in the coming years.

No. 2: There is courage in choosing yourself. This one applies to a few very different experiences but the message is still the same. If you’re not wanted, if you don’t feel loved and worthy of belonging, there is definitely someplace else for you. Just because they don’t see you, doesn’t mean no one will. When I stopped fighting to stay, I felt free to leave. This theme has risen in my life countless times. I’ve left countless situations and teams and environments that didn’t serve me. And no matter how much pain and uncertainty I felt, I rose on the other side to a brighter and more beautiful reality. In 2022, my loyalty to myself was tested yet again, and I’m glad to say I’ve only strengthened that trust. We often think words such as loyalty and trust can’t apply to ourselves but when we actively live against our inner voices, we betray our truths. This year taught me just how detrimental it is to betray yourself, as well as the joy that can be found when you choose yourself. It’s empowering to choose to stand by yourself than to stand with a majority simply to not be alone. This year I stood alone at times but I stood for myself and that was more than enough.

No. 3: Have the confidence to take ownership. Yes, confidence. A belief and trust in yourself. Knowing that you’re capable. You can do hard things. You can overcome challenges. You can do the right thing even when it isn’t easy. Confidence to take up space and be loud. Confidence to lead, with or without an invitation. For the longest time, I would wait for acceptance. I would wait for a ceremony. I would wait until everyone’s faces were overflowing with respect and admiration before I took the lead. In 2022, I realized that if I believe I have something good to offer, I shouldn’t hesitate. When I keep quiet, I’m keeping something of use from everyone. This year I started to learn what it means to take ownership. This began with football but soon translated to all areas of my life. When a situation is tricky or difficult and we pass the ball instead of solving the problem ourselves, we’re placing the ownership on someone else. Instead of bearing the weight of a failure or success, we let someone else take it. In the past, I’ve had trouble taking risks and doing things my own way. I’ve been too humble and passive when I could’ve taken the lead and set an example. Owning up to your abilities and realizing that what you can provide to a team is valid – changes everything. And having the confidence to know that, will make tidal waves.

I don’t want to glorify this year and make it appear flawless. The first eight months could be compared to the feeling of dropping your ice cream cone on the sidewalk. It was disappointing and frustrating to say the least. There were times when it wasn’t easy to start my day, let alone smile through it. So to anyone else who had an awful year, I see you. I’m sorry for your pain and sadness, I feel it with you. Not all years have to be perfect and magical. Sometimes they just don’t live up to our hopes and that stinks. I try to remember in tough times that all things pass. Morning turns to night, darkness turns to light. There will be joy again, that I know without a doubt.

This year I’ve decided not to make New Year’s resolutions, but instead set my intentions for 2023. They are as follows;

  • Be bold with your life.
  • Take risks for happiness and fulfillment.
  • Linger in feelings of joy and peace.
  • Prioritize what nourishes your body, heart and soul.
  • Listen.
  • Allow for rest.
  • Longer contemplation ≠ better decisions.
  • Search for adventure.

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