When you feel like you’re part of something

I think sports not only teach you so much about yourself but also a tremendous amount about life.

Especially when you’re part of a team.

I started playing soccer at a very young age, and while I originally joined because I wanted the Gatorade at halftime, I eventually grew to love the game itself and and everything about it. As I continued through my childhood and adolescence, I played a lot of sports, so I got used to that whole team aspect, and that’s also how I made a lot of my friends.

As an adult, I haven’t played on as many teams, especially as a runner—it’s obviously much more of an individual sport. I’ve run a handful of relays, which are always fun, but there’s something special about going through an entire season (or multiple seasons and years) with a group of individuals all working together and and supporting one another and cheering for each other and becoming more like a family.

At my last job, my company had its own bowling league, and two years in a row, I was a proud member (and team captain) of the Spare Bears. I loved that team—even when some of the members complained about the T-shirts we made the first season. We all still wore them (at least for a few weeks). Even though we weren’t that bad, the ridiculous scoring system left us in last place both years. I don’t like losing AT ALL, but you know what? We had fun, and we made a lot of really great memories as a team. We made it through those losses together, and we even gave each other high fives each week, despite whatever the screen said.

Because we were a team.

I miss the Spare Bears. I miss a lot of things about my life back in Dallas, which I expected would happen. Last week, I decided I needed to join a coed beach flag football league to fill the void of not being on a team and to be able to play a fun sport again and make some new friends. Before I had any time to think of reasons why it wasn’t a good idea, I had registered as a free agent, which meant I would be placed on any team that needed me.

This obviously isn’t our entire team, but I needed a pic, and they seemed photogenic.

My first game was Sunday, and I’m really glad I decided to join. I didn’t know a single person out there, but I immediately felt like part of the group, and it was nice to get some high fives when I almost had an interception and made a few other defensive plays to break up passes and grab flags (I’m telling you—I would be a great strong safety in the NFL). We all even hung out for a little bit after the game at a place down from the pier, and I’m also going to go to a trivia night this week that a couple of them attend weekly—I’m pretty excited about that!

I realize I’ve only played in one game, but it already feels comforting to be part of a team. There’s something really good about groups like this: They’re not only found in sports. Whether it’s our families or coworkers or communities or other solid circles of friends who become family to you, we can be part of so many different teams in life—those people who walk with you through every season and are there for you every step of the way. They cheer for you whether you’re killing it in life or getting your a$* kicked. And they help you up when you fall down, making sure you know that you’re strong enough to get up and keep going. They mourn with you after losses, and they celebrate with you after victories. It doesn’t matter if you’re at your worst or at your best—they’re still there.

I bought a sofa the other day (well, it’s really a loveseat, but I didn’t want something really big). I’ve been watching television while sitting on a blowup mattress, and that lifestyle is getting old and uncomfortable, so it was time for something else. When I told the guy who sold it to me that I thought the loveseat was a better option than the full-sized sofa for me, he said this: “Yeah, it’s the perfect size for someone who’s alone.”

I SWEAR THAT I GIVE OFF SOME SORT OF “I’M SINGLE” VIBE.

Of course, he then started to backtrack and said, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have assumed.” I should have told him about all of my people. No, I don’t live with anyone; no, I don’t have a boyfriend; no, I don’t have a husband or a date to anything or someone to watch the sunsets on my lifeguard tower with me; no, I don’t have a pet; and, no, I don’t have a lot of other things. To him, that might make me alone, but I don’t think that’s the way I want to look at it. Sure, it may feel that way sometimes, but all I need to do is think about my teams and the teammates who have been by side for years, and my spirits are lifted. I hope you have those people in your life, and I hope you keep finding more.

Because sharing those precious moments in life with the people you love is even sweeter than Gatorade at halftime.

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