this is not(!) a soccer story
I didn’t always know I was trans, in fact its a very recent discovery. I did always know I wasn’t like the other men I knew, I wasn’t like the other men I saw. On a surface level this manifested by being more interested in baking with my mom and studying the honeysuckles on the neighbors property than shooting bb guns with the boy who lived across the street. A level below that I could tell something was off when I just wanted to hold the hand of the boy who lived across the street more than I wanted to kiss all the girls who wanted to kiss me. Even deeper though, I only wanted to be friends with woman because I wanted to study them, I wanted to learn everything I could about them so I could be them better than ever could hope to be. That was subconscious though, in practice I was revolting against all the thoughts and ideals that I could be anything other than what I was told I was. I tried to embrace masculinity however I could, especially when I had a father who pushed me into face first. Around the age of 6 he signed me up for flag football, but quickly realized it wasn’t a good fit. Instead of playing the game, I would wander the field trying to collect fireflies until the coach would yell at me. After being berated I decided instead of playing my best course of action was to try to have a conversation with the coach for the rest of the game explaining why the bugs were good luck for the team. I don’t think technically they were supposed to kick someone off of a team composed of kids that young, but hey all my life people have had to make exceptions for me. A few years later my father decided to try again and got me playing soccer. Something here clicked for me, a lot of things actually. I was at a point in my life where I was barely eating more than a handful of berries and some ibuprofen for my meals, cutting myself with serrated kitchen knives, and just beginning to realize how deeply wrong something inside me was. Instead of dealing with any of this, I thought I could dive headfirst into being the boy my father wanted me to be. Soccer isn’t a game where you need to be strong, being fast and having good control of your legs is all you really needed, at least at in the lower age groups I was playing in. And by God, I was fast. The kids would actually go on to nickname me “gazelle” later into my career because of my speed and unnaturally thin frame. I loved the sport, it gave me an escape. I could be a boy and not have to deal with the feelings that maybe I was anyone else. I did my best to ignore how cute I thought the other boys looked when they fell and scraped their legs. However, like I was saying before, I wasn’t in the best physical condition, so I was at a bit of disadvantage. Instead of trying to live a healthier lifestyle in order to more properly enjoy something that was very therapeutic for me at the time, I pushed myself past my limits. I remember playing games and feeling close to passing out as I ran from one end of the field to another doing my best to keep the ball away from everyone except me, teammates or opponents it didn’t matter I wanted to prove something. After the games concluded I put on a brave face but would make some excuse as to why I couldn’t go to any after parties or anything like that. Instead, my parents would drive me home and I would puke and sleep in misery for the rest of the day. I loved it so much. It gave me purpose. It gave me something to give myself to. It was my religion every Thursday night at practice, then every Saturday morning at my games. I played from second grade through my junior year of highschool. I wanted to play in college. I quit though, mostly because of my pride. You see, I’ve always been the youngest person in all the circles I’m in. Hell, I started my freshman year of highschool at 11, I started college at 15. Soccer was no different. Remember what I said about people making exceptions for me? That was especially prevalent at this time in my life. Teachers would tell me that they would never let someone so young into their class, but I just had so much potential and innate maturity and intelligence that they had to let me in. Jobs would tell me that they normally wouldn’t hire me for another couple years, but since I had been working odd jobs already for years and showed such a great work ethic they had to hire me. The soccer organization I played for had set age groups, but I was always bumped up a tier or two above because of my talent in the game. However, junior year came around and that meant I would have been 13 playing with 17-19 year olds. They said they just couldn’t do that. So instead putting me a level below that, they said I had to play with the kids my age. I was so fucking insulted. I wasn’t like them, I was above them, I was better than them. I shouldn’t be forced to be around people beneath me in every way imaginable. I went to one practice and left halfway through. I quit sports for good and never once looked back on something I at one point thought could be my future. Now, if I’m being realistic, unless there were some massive changes in my life there was no way I would be a college soccer player. I was a junky, I barely ate, I never exercised outside of playing the game, and slightly asthmatic. I wasn’t willing to make any changes though, I just thought if I pushed myself over the edge all the time I could make it. Huh. I guess that’s one similarity between my childhood self and who I would grow up to be.