“How about the US team at the World Cup?”
As a lifelong, obsessed soccer player, I was asked some version of this question by nearly every breathing being I came into contact with these past few months.
My answer is two pronged. The first, more user-friendly prong, is my go-to response:
“It was awesome. So amazing for women’s soccer, women’s sports, women, and just humanity in general.”
I genuinely meant prong #1 answer.
But, prong #2 answer, is more flavorful: it starts with me collapsing onto my knees and bawling all alone on my apartment floor. And it ends with my favorite pair of Wildfang underwear catching fire.
It was July 10th, 2019. Three days after the US beat the Netherlands in the finals. Ever since their victory, I contracted a particularly potent virus that forced me to uncontrollably scroll the inter-webs for US team content containing celebrations, interviews, highlights, and all things Megan Rapinoe.
At a glance, this may appear to be a semi-embarrassing thing to admit to, since the women I was stalking were either players I know or players I have competed with.
You aren’t wrong. But, if you caught the same deadly virus, no doubt you’d be right there with me. Your underwear probably would have caught on fire too.
But, I’d like to clarify some technicalities of this word “stalking.” Afters years of studying and personal experience, I’ve discovered there are different varieties:
There’s “fan girl stalking” where you start with the stalkee’s instagram and are like OMGGGG look at her luscious hair, and her dog I just want to squeeze him, and her home is like a spa, and her overalls are just WOW, ugh she’s so cool, I want to be her. I’m all about fan-girling, but I typically direct these exploits towards musicians.
Then, there’s “investigative stalking” where you start with the stalkee’s instagram and are like okay, what’s going on here? who is this? how do I know her? what is happening? what does she do? and an hour later you have 10 different tabs open forming a collage of this person’s life story.
My current form of stalking carried a twinge of the latter, but it was different. Different, in fact, than any from of stalking I had ever trial and error-ed before.
My steadfast stalking was directed towards trying to wrap my head around one impossible, burning question: why for the life of me, wasn’t I playing at that World Cup?
Adults often ask kids “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
“A dolphin trainer!”
"A fire fighter”!
This question was too limiting for my six year-old mind.
I never “wanted” to be a World Cup champion. I was going to be a World Cup Champion. I saw it clear as day.
One of my past mentors, gave me an unforgettable analogy about going after your dreams: when you deliver a letter to the post office, you don’t worry about whether or not it’s going to make it to the recipient. You trust that the postman and all the post office people have it taken care of. Zero questions asked.
That’s how you ought to view your goals. Set the goal, and trust 100% that the Universe is going to deliver it to you.
There are some dreams I’ve had my doubts about it. But, this one… this one, I never questioned. I knew I was going to play on the world stage before I learned how to put Poptarts in a toaster, play tic tac toe, condition my hair, buckle my seatbelt, and give my brothers wedgies.
The letter was signed. The envelope was licked, sealed, stamped, placed in the mail, and picked up by my childhood, neighborhood, postman, Jim. Jim was a great guy. Every time Jim retrieved our family mail, he pulled a treat out of his pocket and fed it to my dog Jake. Jim always had a soft spot in my heart. Until, this World Cup.
This specific year. This specific World Cup. This specific gold medal. Wrapped around my neck. Celebrating with my teammates. This was my lifelong dream.
I had it all plotted out. Based on my age and the amount of work I would put in each year, I calculated that I would be at my prime for the 2019 World Cup.
But, here I was in my cluttered studio apartment, in my pajamas at 3pm, cemented to my bed, binge-watching YouTube videos of the the US team chugging celebratory beers.
POSTMAN JIM, WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO WITH MY LETTER?
Did I not make my dream clear enough? Did the letter get misplaced? Sent to the wrong recipient? At least, give your girl a heads up, Jim. I thought we had something special.
This virus was lethal. I was bedridden, scouring the internet for hours on end. I knew I needed to stop. To do something. Anything. To get me out of this state.
Finally, I told myself ENOUGH. I was going to go for a jog and release some energy. I manually pried each of my limbs out of my bed. I threw on some shorts and a t-shirt. I slipped on my shoes, grabbed my iPhone for music, headed towards the door, and just when I thought I was gaining some positive momentum, my knees involuntarily collapsed to the floor and I started bawling. Like, bawlinggggg. It was one of those cries where you are like WTF, are these aggressive seal moans I’m hearing actually coming out of my own mouth??
The animal noises were followed by confusion: “Whyyyy!? Whyyy me!? That was supposed to be me! I don’t understand?!”
I’m not sure who I was asking these questions to, but I didn’t get a response. I just kept weeping.
You might think this is an embarrassing thing to admit to. Again, you’re not entirely wrong.
But, have you ever had a dream, a big dream? One where all the odds are stacked against you, yet you still go after it with every fiber of your being? You dedicate your entire life to it. Every life decision you make is with that end goal in mind.
Have you ever thought, what if I give every, every, every thing I have to this dream, and it still doesn’t come true?
Honestly, I never even allowed myself to truly ponder that question. I just kept going.
Until now. When my dreams were taking place before my own eyes. Without me.
We hear about the importance of grieving the death of our loved ones. It’s equally as important to grieve the loss of our dreams. When we fully grieve our lost aspirations, we make space for new ones to come in. It’s painful. But, I believe the more pain we feel about something we love, the more evidence we have that we gave it our whole heart.
I laid on the ground for a long while. And came to the confident conclusion that this run was not in the cards today. But, ya know, a matcha latte sounded like the perfect remedy for my broken heart.
I sauntered over to my tiny kitchen area. I placed a pot on the stovetop, poured in some oat milk, and turned the nozzle to heat up the electric burner. I then scurried back to my bed to cope with my pain by, naturally, watching a bit more of the NYC ticker tape parade.
Approximately 4 minutes later, I smelled something. Oh my matcha must be done. I walked over to my stove, and… holy shit….something was on fire!!! Flames were partying all over that “something”, but I couldn’t decipher what that “something” was. I sprinted over (the most exercise I’d gotten all day) to the scene of the crime and that’s when I saw it: my favorite pair of Wildfang underwear. Scorched to death.
Now, you may be thinking, why the hell does this girl have underwear on her stovetop?
I can explain. I am not a US women’s national team member, and even if I were on a professional team right now, my salary could barely afford the cheapest apartment. In my quaint studio, the washing machine is right next to my tiny kitchen area.
I had gotten my period that day and bled onto my underwear. So, I sprayed my underwear with stain remover, and was letting it set in before I tossed them into the washing machine.
Now, you may be thinking that bleeding onto my underwear is a semi-embarrassing thing to admit to and not something that needs to be shared for the entire world to see. And that’s where you are wrong. If periods grosses you out, I am not sorry. Women bleed. Welcome to human biology 101.
Anyways, I accidentally turned on the wrong burner, the one that had my underwear on it, and subsequently, not the pot.
I immediately transformed into firefighter mode. I turned off the burner, grabbed a pair of wooden tongs, plucked up my blazing underwear, transferred it over to the sink, and doused it with water.
And that’s when it hit me: Postman Jim just delivered.
I bursted into laughter.
Here I was sulking, feeling so deeply sorry for myself, grieving a deep inner wound, acting like the world was over, and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, my fuckin’ underwear lights on fire.
Adulting is messy.
It doesn’t make sense sometimes. Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense a lot of times. And that’s okay. That’s called being human. It’s important for us humans to allow ourselves to be human. And to allow The Postman to be The Postman. Because, The Postman, ultimately, is the one who calls the shots.
He or she or them or whatever you want to call it, is always delivering. We just have to be open to opening the letter. Sometimes, it’s not the letter we want. Or the letter we think we “know” we are destined for. But, the one that brings us to our knees so we can feel what it means to completely surrender. The one that scorches our underwear to see that life doesn’t have to be so damn serious. The one that shows us, within seconds, that it’s okay for life to simultaneously hurt like hell and to laugh about it.
If we allow ourselves to fully receive the letters, both the tears and the laughter, it will eventually lead us to where the stuff that didn’t make sense, all of a sudden, makes so much sense.
The Postman always delivers. Thanks Jim.