Friday the 6th of April, 2018. Already a historical day in the history of women’s football in the Netherlands. Tonight, the ‘Oranjeleeuwinnen’ will play their 2019 World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland in front of over 30.000 supporters. The players are incredibly popular, getting one sponsordeal after the other, and the stadiums they sell out are getting bigger by the month. The 2019 World Cup is really on its way. But not for me.
Having a big dream is wonderful. It gives you a reason, every single day, to get out of bed with fresh energy, ready to work your behind off for that one single goal. But you can also go too far. A few months ago I suddenly, without any warning, paid the price for the past four years, in which I was busy non-stop, every minute of every day, without taking enough time to rest. A surprise visit from the well-known woman with the hammer, you could say (not sure if people actually use this analogy in English, but you get the picture)
And don’t worry, this will not be a sob story of how tough it’s been or how glad I am that I’m finally, slowly, feeling better step by step. I can’t imagine that anyone other than my mom would want to read that. But it is time to take a critical look at the future.
The past four years have been amazing, let me state that clearly. But in my unwavering efforts to take steps forward, and quickly, I forgot to press the pause button from time to time. That’s why, today, I want to declare the following: I’m not going to make the 2019 World Cup. Where I went wrong? Not a clue. From the very beginning, I knew setting this goal was ambitious, bordering on completely insane. The pressure I put on myself to succeed, to do more, go faster, work harder, that got the best of me a while ago. Just saying all of these words out loud feels like dropping a huge weight off of my shoulders.
So what does that mean for the future? I’m definitely not going to quit football, and making the Dutch national team is still the big dream I’m going to be working towards. But I’ve got to get out of this pressure cooker I’ve created for myself. I need to stop counting down the days, always feeling like my progress is not happening fast enough, so that I can get back to the basics: how much fun football is, and wanting to improve every day.
‘I told you so…’
I understand that there will be plenty of people reading this, chuckling to themselves. ‘I told you so, Emma…’ Yeah, you’re right. And you weren’t the only one. Almost every time I told someone that I wanted to reach the 2019 World Cup, they all but declared me legally insane.
The risk of publically shouting your big dreams off the (digital) rooftops to anyone that will listen, is that you’ll also publically fall flat on your face when you fail. But to me, this adventure is anything but a failure, even though I know I’m not going to reach my original goal. So yes, the doubters were right. For now. The Dream is far from over, it just encountered some delays along the way. For now, you have every right to point and laugh and say ‘I told you so!’. But let’s talk again in about five years or so…
Thanks for reading, talk soon! 🙂