I’m sitting here thinking of all the scenarios that are about happen when I run into people and friends back home and they ask “so, how was Korea?”
And honestly, I really can’t wait to see what the first answer that pops out of my mouth will be.
Maybe it’ll be about the beginning when I was love struck on the idea of being a real professional athlete for the first time. When I was a sponge eager to soak up adapt and everything I could and loved all the newness around me. To the first couple months when I was savoring every bite of kimchi and was in the best shape of my life and was oozing with positivity.
Or from the middle-months struggle when I swore off ever playing volleyball again. When I never wanted to quit something more in my life so I was looking up flight tickets home and planning my escape out of here. When homesick was heavy, but not as heavy as the newly experienced pressures being put on me. To cursing every time I had to sit on the floor cross legged to eat, or when I was reading more self-help, motivation, mental toughness books than I’m proud of. Those months tested me more than imaginable.
To the last couple months where I have never felt more physicality drained, but managed to find new limits in me and that’s what brought me more satisfaction than I thought could. The part where I could stop and look and genuinely be proud of myself. Real pure honest self satisfaction, that which I can’t say I’ve ever really felt before. That part where the “beginning eagerness” mixed with the “middle grind” to display the results in me that reminded me why I’m doing this, and my once lofty goals were now well within reach. Where this journey made total sense to me.
This all has been an emotional roller coaster and so it only makes sense that my journey was flipped upside down with my first season ending injury and then hit with an abrupt stop when knowing finishing the season was out of the picture. But not to disregard the past 3 weeks of dramatic “you’re done, you’re going home” to “wait maybe you can play” to “actually you can’t, but still stay’ to ‘it may heal, maybe can play’ to the “nevermind not playing” then boom, seasons over with a finals loss.
Not the picture perfect end I imagined at all, but still a bittersweet end, heavy on the sweet side. Sweet with knowing I got all I could out of Korea, and Korea got all it could out of me and knowing well, home awaits. (hey looks like those positivity books paid off after all teheh).
I’ll never be able to thank those that helped power me through this. My family, all the calls, e-mails, fb messages and comments. My parents who don’t always travel well but trekked across the globe to me and also still managed to follow every single match I played despite my “please don’t stay awake for this” texts. My brother for visiting and staying in this dungeon of IBK training institute on his vacation time, and to my sister for her sleep/drunk I love you texts and snaps. 😛 My friends who never stopped checking in to make sure I was alive, and had my countdown full force till I’m home ❤ Your Facetimes and texts literally improved my quality of life 3000% The other 5 Americans here, there’s no doubt we are all damn warriors and I have so much respect for the impacts we’ve all had on our teams. It was a blast competing against ya.
To my teammates my staff. You took the time to get to know me, to understand me and to be patient in this process which was incredibly new to me and that is all I can ask for from a group a million miles from home. My training staff, you took care of me from day one and I literally would be dead month one if it wasn’t for you. To MY TEAMMATES for welcoming me and working our asses off so we could all reap the rewards of winning. You all dumped a load of experiences and knowledge on me and I can only hope I absorbed all I could. Seeing you girls smiling and being so tough was often what kept me going this season. I not only played for myself, but I played for each one of you, your kindness meant the world to me. And of course my translator, who’s own personal job is to make sure I stay alive and breathing, I love you. To the many many fans that stood by our side and showered us with personal cheers, chocolates and optimism. Thx for the memories.
Lastly, I think I need to thank the old me, the 8 month ago me that went on a limb and gave me this experience. Because I am very, very glad I did. There is no place to play like Korea, and I will forever cherish all the amazing things I got to experience. I’m already missing Gongcha, shabu shabu, mandoo, Artbox, green tea and sweet potato everything, and all the other korean-only quirks that never failed to put a smile on my face. Until next time 😉
Korea, I gave you my all. Somedays that was 45 point games, and somedays it was just a misty-eyed girl struggling to practice. But I’ll assure you, it was all that I had in the moment and I leave hanging my hat on that.
What’s next for me? I’m not sure. But I am confident that I have a lot left in me and a lot more places to leave my mark. As I close this door, I’m confident a handful of new ones will open. Hell, I think I’ve earned it.
thanks for following along loves.
time to head back west,
리즈 맥 마 혼