“Who can I help because of this adversity I have overcome and named my strength?”
I wrote this at the top of my journal every morning to retrain my subconscious brain. Slowly, my story of adversity changed from something I tried to hide to my greatest source of strength.
I pursued one goal my entire life – to become a professional soccer player. The University of Maryland Men’s Soccer program offered me a scholarship to become a part of their esteemed program. During my time at Maryland I served as a two time captain, and became a two time ACC Champion as well as a Division 1 National Champion.
Hard work had led me to the culminating moment of being drafted by my hometown team, the Chicago Fire, in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. Unfortunately, I sustained a career ending and life altering head injury before my professional career had a chance to begin.
The pain was constant and unforgiving, the light and noise sensitivity made the days difficult to navigate, the loss of balance and proprioception took away my basic physical attributes that made me an elite athlete. Similar to our story in 2020, I was given two weeks to recover, then another two weeks, then a month, and then the timeline vanished, there was no end in sight. The only wishing that I stayed in an induced state of sleep until I recovered. I worried about what I would become, what I could even do for work and if I would even be able to marry the love of my life. I finally found doctors that were able to help, spending nearly 1,000 days behind the scenes retraining my eyes, brain and proprioception. This entire journey hit me hard from a mental perspective. I feared being judged by others, knowing they couldn’t see what happened to me and had no idea what I endured on a daily basis. The psychological trauma continued to take a toll until I turned my external focus inward.