After finishing my high school basketball career I thought I would never play competitively again. I only wanted to play on the best Division 1 basketball teams and I was not at that level. During my senior year I trained as if I had already failed and I was often frustrated during my games. I felt as though scoring 30 points per game was the only way for me to be successful and redeem myself. I didn’t understand the difference between “success and victory” as one of the best basketball coaches ever, John Wooden, called it. Scoring all the points one game would give me a personal victory for the day but not success. Wooden defined success as “peace of mind attained only through the satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable.” I had no peace of mind because I was constantly comparing myself to others and to extraordinary standards. There were times when I was hurt and unable to perform at a very high level. Success would have meant staying on the sidelines and healing. I went for victory and worsened my injuries.
One thing that isn’t mentioned enough about taking a bridge year is the amazing amount of reflection it creates. All that frustration from basketball seems so silly sitting here now. These reflections come while I am biking the mile to work or waiting for a meeting to start. They are sparked by parallel feelings of the past. I am irritated at a coworker and I am flown back to a 10th grade Chemistry test answer that I have absolutely no idea how to solve. My time here will change my future so much because it has changed how I look at the past. It has given me a new lens in which to look at all my experiences; past and present.
I now play basketball all over Ecuador. My team is comprised of the closest friends I have here. For me, the time traveling and conversing has become just as important as the game we are driving to. I play to the best of which I am capable and I am satisfied with that. Three months have passed since I arrived here and I couldn’t be happier.