I haven’t written in quite some time so I thought now would be a good time to recap 2016. This year was crazy. When 2016 started, I was beginning my second Big Ten conference season with Indiana. We went 12-6 in conference and made the NCAA tournament as an 8 seed. We beat Georgia in the first round before falling to host Notre Dame in the second. In April, I would make the long drive from Indiana to Seattle for my first official season as the manager of video and equipment for the Storm. I spent the summer living in a 110 square foot “Apodment” and working like crazy. I loved every second of it. We made the playoffs for the first time in a few years and lost to Atlanta in the 1-game first round. In late September, I made the reverse drive and came back to Indiana. We started practicing in October and the games started again in November. I worked 52 straight weeks and my single week of vacation was spent back in Arkansas corralling kiddos at camp and working on an Olympic break project. It was an exhausting year.
Away from basketball…well, not much happened that wasn’t basketball related. I continued to learn more about myself, my abilities, and my dis/different-abilities on a daily basis. I lost some skills and tricks and gained some new ones. Some old behaviors showed back up and some new coping skills were required. It was definitely an ebb and flow year…2 steps forward, 1 step back. Here are some of the life lessons I learned (or re-learned) over the course of 2016:
- Work smarter, not harder. This is #1 on my list of life rules, so it’s no surprise that it comes up here. In Seattle, I had to come up with a new workflow that would allow me to accomplish my widely varying list of responsibilities, from doing the laundry to making edits and keeping stats. It took me some time to be able to do it all and I never felt like I got very efficient at it. This coming season, I’m hoping to continue to improve my workflow to allow for maximum efficiency.
- It’s ok. One of my OCD traits is that I’m constantly checking things. I need to know if it’s ok. The answer is always yes, no matter how many times I ask or what is going on. I require constant reassurance from myself or others. It’s annoying and ridiculous, but my brain deems it necessary. In 2016, I learned that it is, actually, ok. The sky is not falling, no matter what my brain says to convince me otherwise.
- I can do (almost) anything for 30 seconds. I learned this lesson in the second half of 2016. I can look up, I can stay calm, I can take deep breaths. Sometimes, you just have to life life as a series of 30 second intervals. With practice, the 30 second intervals can increase to 60 then 120. And two minutes is a long time. I can hold on. I can do it.
- Dis/different-ability is real. Not knowing that I had autism while I was growing up was both a blessing and a curse. It was a curse because I didn’t know why things were hard, why I was different, why I struggled. But it was also a blessing because I didn’t know I was supposed to have limits. Getting a degree was never a choice. Becoming independent was never a choice. I did it because that’s what I was supposed to do. It turns out that isn’t all true, because disability is real. Autism is real. My autism is real. It makes parts of my life harder. I can fake it. That’s all I knew for the first 22 years of my life. But in 2016, I learned that no matter how much I faked it, hard I tried, or how many 30 second intervals I made it through, autism wasn’t going to go away. My brain is not going to be re-wired. My story is not going to be re-written. This is how God made me and He doesn’t make mistakes. It makes my life hard, really hard. But hard is not always bad.
- Support systems do exist and they are great. Once I left home, I pretty much had to figure life out on my own. I didn’t realize the depth of the struggles I had until I developed this support system in Seattle. With them in my life, I feel like I can do anything. Between them and myself, we can come up with a way to get through just about anything, whether it’s basketball-related or life in general. In Indiana, I’m pretty much on my own. It’s no one’s fault and I’m not complaining, but it is reality. The longer I am away from my Seattle family, the more thankful I am for them.
Overall, 2016 was definitely a growing year for me. Despite being an “adult”, I still have a lot of growing up to do. I’m thankful for the people in my life that are helping me continue to grow and I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to continue growing. I know not everyone has the same opportunities that I have been given. I hope I will always be a good steward of all that I’ve been given.
You were made by God and for God and until you understand that, life will never make sense. – Rick Warren