As part of the territory of being a Daily Athlete, there comes the inevitability of choosing to play professionally. Depending on your sport and skill level, that can look a little different for everyone.
When it comes to team sports like Volleyball, basketball, or soccer, there is a high likelihood you will be heading somewhere like Europe, South America, Asia, or pretty much anywhere else they don’t speak English.
For those of you who follow along with other athlete’s currently playing professionally, I imagine you have a few preconceived notions about what the lifestyle entails. And you know what, to a certain extent, some your notions may be one the right track.
However, like any good thing, there is always a dark side.
Or at least a side of the story no one really talks about.
For today we wanted to share the thoughts, experiences, and advice from someone currently caught up in the professional athlete life.
You may remember Taylor from our article last week where some “athlete supporters” shared their toughest challenges of the lifestyle.
This time around she wanted to go into a little more detail about her and Nick’s experience living abroad in Cannes, France.
Some of it applies to the unique nature of living overseas, but most of applies to everyone, regardless of being an athlete, an athlete supporter, or pretty much anyone with a pulse.
1. Be thankful every single day for your community.
You will never be prepared for moving away from everyone and everything you know and love. You will never be able to prepare yourself for how scary moving to a country where you don’t speak the language is. And you will never be prepared to be entirely dependent on one human being for about 9 months of the year. But, you can prepare yourself for the immense amount of gratitude you will have for your friends and family when you return home.
Nick and I learned that we are one hell of a team but it gets really hard when there are only two of you and sometimes one of you has no idea how to help the other. My mom has always told me that your partner cannot be your everything and that’s okay (this woman is brilliant I tell you). We get a lot of joy out of knowing that we have such amazing people to come home to at the end of a season.
2. Do things for you
The ability to make choices for yourself and not for others is incredibly difficult. We hear this all the time “do what makes you happy” but to actually act on that takes guts. Let me tell you when you make a decision because you know it will make you happy even though some people think it’s the wrong decision or think you’re bat shit crazy, it’s the best feeling.
An example of this from this year was when Nick decided to end his time playing for Team Canada Volleyball. For two years, Nick fought an internal battle of whether or not to continue playing. He struggled with telling people he was done playing because he felt like he would be letting everyone down if he didn’t step onto the court in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. However, after many conversations, lots of reflection, and a ton of bravery, Nick made the choice for himself that he would not continue with the National Team. Regardless of what others might think of this choice, he is so happy that he made this decision and can look forward to a summer spending time with his friends and family.
3. Invest in yourself
As I mentioned before, I have been off of my medication for 9 months and this decision brought a lot of difficulty and hard work with it. Alongside this, Nick was faced with one of the most challenging seasons of his career with a team that no one could have prepared him for. Basically, our home was filled with stress, anxiety, and anger. One day it became too much to deal with and Nick suggested that we book a wellness session online with a man named Mischa Harris. Nick has known him for years and trusted him to help us start on a path to get rid of these negative emotions. Well, I was not into this in the slightest in the beginning. With student debt and living on one salary, I couldn’t imagine how this was a good use of the little money we had. However, I agreed to try one session because it was important to Nick. Since that first session, we have had many more and I don’t think twice about what it costs. Spending “x” amount of dollars helped us become happier and healthier people and each session is worth every single penny. I don’t know if he will read this, but if he does… Thank you so much, from the bottom of our hearts, for what you have done for us this year.
4. Stress is toxic
Disclaimer *we still get stressed and work on this daily*
As the heading suggests, we have learned that stress is toxic. With lots of help and direction from Mischa, we have worked on strategies to manage stress when it comes up. We try to manage our stress by simply talking and reflecting. When we talk about why we feel stressed and what the outcomes of the stress are, we often feel lots better and not so stressed. We spend a lot less time stressing and worrying these days, which is very nice and has been a huge help in managing my anxiety.
5. Hydration is important
No shit you say? This one seems funny but I’m serious. We consciously hydrate throughout the day. It starts with a big glass of warm (key word: warm) water and we continue from there. We both feel more energized during the day, we have more energy at the gym, and we sleep better at night. You will be pleasantly surprised with how many positive things water can bring to your life.
6. Sleeping well takes a lot of work
Sleeping well and waking up feeling rested was a big goal for us this year. We worked really hard on timing our meals so that we didn’t eat 3-4 hours before bed so that our body could focus on resting and recovering rather than digesting. We also stop drinking anything about 2 hours before bed so that we don’t wake up in the night to use the little boys and girls room. I sometimes journal before bed when my anxiety gets bad and we also have an amazing essential oil going in the diffuser to aid in relaxation. (Another item we “invested” in and it was so worth the high price. Serenity oil by DoTerra- get it) Sleep is the best and by making little adjustments, our sleep became more productive and in turn, made us more productive the next day!
7. Managing Anxiety without medication is tough but possible
The title speaks for itself. Every day brings a new struggle for me with dealing with my anxiety but I have a lot more good days than bad days. I’m just going to go ahead and give myself and Nick a big virtual high five because we are awesome for getting through this together.
8. Animals make life better
Animals are the best. They are fluffy and funny and are excellent companions. We are both so happy we have our Russell Giovanni Del Bianco Poulin because he has brought a lot of joy into our lives…even when poop gets stuck in his bum hair.
9. It’s ok not to have an end goal
This is the biggest struggle I have dealt with because I don’t work when I move overseas and used to feel absolutely useless. I have a university degree but don’t use it, and I don’t have an answer when people ask me what I’m going to do while I’m overseas. I also can’t answer anything that has to do with my career or plans for when Nick is done playing volleyball. To be honest I don’t have a clue and that’s ok! It took me two years to come to this conclusion but man, it feels good to have accepted this. I am successful every single day by taking the time to work on myself and by being able to be here for Nick while he plays volleyball. Please remember: money doesn’t make you a success. There is no money (seriously… zero dollars) in supporting someone 9 months of the year, but it sure makes me happy.
10. Routine is awesome
In a life of unemployment in a foreign country, routine is key. Routine gives us a reason to get up and look forward to the day!
11.We are incredibly thankful for Canadian politeness.
We met many amazing people in France that we hope we continue to stay in touch with after we leave. But, we cannot say goodbye fast enough to many of the people here. We learned quickly that saying “excuse me”, smiling or using simple manners of any kind is something that some places in the world don’t have. We learned this right away with our first trip to the bank. The secretary refused to listen to my best attempt at French and decided that she wouldn’t give us the time of day. I tried writing down google translate so we could tell her more information. She refused. I drew a picture of a bank card and she looked away. Finally, in English, I loudly said: “JUST TRY TO HELP US”. She responded with “you’re in France, speak French”. I turned around and began to cry. This was a common occurrence here, if you didn’t speak perfect French, you were not accepted and it’s really sad. So, we are thankful that when we come home, we will hear some more please and thank you’s.
12. Intentionally choose happiness
If you intentionally choose happiness you will be happy. Seems pretty obvious but its hard work to do this. In our opinion, being grateful is the biggest contributor to this. No matter what situation you are in try to get a positive out of it and be grateful for it. Sometimes intentionally choosing happiness can simply be not going to the gym and sitting outside in the sun to read a book without feeling guilt. Or it can mean picking positives out of a shit situation, such as the majority of Nick’s season here in France. We often talk about something good that happened during practice or a game to try and stop the focus from being negative. You’d be surprised how something as small as saying that you told a funny joke, or had a really awesome block can change your attitude around. I think this entire post encompasses intentionally choosing happiness. We have made many changes in our lives and we honestly feel so much happier. We said to Mischa in our very first session that in our ideal state, we want to feel content and happy. I think we are well on our way to doing this.
Read more of Taylor and Nick’s Blog: Click Here
[Daily Athlete]: As you may now have noticed, this was really never an article specific to the professional athlete lifestyle. Sure it may have been peppered with sports situations and themes. But evidently, it’s an article for those of you who are looking to become better humans.
These were tactics and mindsets that worked for two people, and ultimately, there is a chance some of these ideas won’t work for you. But that’s just the way life works. We are each on our own journey, trying to create our own unique path. There is no one set way of doing things.
Instead, it is up to you listen, read, learn, absorb and pick which ideas you want to follow.
It’s all about gaining perspective and seeing things from a different angle.
In these 12 thoughts, there is bound to be something for all of you and we hope you choose to become better because of what you discovered.