My father taught me that in every endeavour only your best effort was acceptable. I had no intention of following him onto the rugby field but when fate or maybe fortune put me there I was determined to be the best I was capable of being.
I worked hard, and stayed true to his words. I achieved. It wasn’t easy. Often with as many lows as highs. In the years that followed retirement from the sport I haven’t looked back at my career with much fondness, more resentment. I was resentful of how much I’d given for what I thought I got in return. I didn’t think it was worth it. Perspective depends on the lens you are looking through. I felt I’d wasted nearly 20 years of my life
I was wrong. I made a mistake. I’m what I am because of what I gave. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. The game taught me to deal with adversity, to overcome set backs and disappointments. To deal with success and failure. That the victories and defeats, big and small, personal and collective, are reward enough.
That the learning is enough. The lessons were there I just didn’t look.
I wasn’t smart enough to recognise the wealth of opportunities to educate and improve myself on a psychological level that were at my fingertips. I missed them in the moment never savouring each long enough, never quite fulfilled enough to stop and check myself, always focusing on the next step. Maybe I was too busy chasing a ghost, who knows.
I try not to make those mistakes now. I’m more aware. I look back, but now through a different lens. I look for the opportunities to better myself. I’m determined not to let them pass me by. I’ll always be reflective but now I look for the learning in my experiences and in my interactions with others.
Take the time to think, it’s amazing what you might find.
Thanks to @red_pack_sc for his eloquence and intelligence in prompting these thoughts.