I Score Goals Now

“You’ve gotta take that shot”

When I was about 25, I played outdoor football/soccer once a week. I remember one day someone passed me the ball right in front of the goal and I refused to take the shot. Insetad, I passed it. Later, the guy I passed to jogged by and said “You’ve gotta take that shot.” I responded “I’m a defender!” And that was that. I play defense, and I don’t take shots.

It’s always been this way. When I play World of Warcraft, I’m a healer. When I play Overwatch I’m a tank. And when I play football, I play sweeper. I like sitting in the back and scheming to frustrate the other team’s best players. I look up to people like Richard Sherman that make an entire career out of great defense.

But there’s a fine line between the story you tell yourself about who you are and that same story limiting what you can be. Since I’ve always been on defense, I figured I’d never score. Other than that one time when I was six and they told me to stand in front of the goalie for a corner kick, and it bounced off my knee and dribbled into the corner. Best day ever.

Lately I’ve been playing indoor football. (I live in a county with zero Covid cases) And the thing about indoor is everyone roams all over the pitch, making it closer to hockey or basketball than outdoor football. Which means sometimes I’m facing down the other team’s goal. Which means I’m faced with a choice every few minutes: do I take the shot, or do pass it? Am I a guy who plays football, or am I just a defender?

So one day I tried taking shots. It still feels strange, and I miss a lot. But sometimes I don’t. I scored in my first game, then my second, then my fourth, and fifth. The novelty is beginning to wear off, and a new story is emerging. I’ve always been a defensive player, and I still am. But I can also learn new things. I can take the shot, and sometimes I might even score. That’s who I am now. After all these years, I’ve decided I score goals now.

Photo by Arseny Togulev on Unsplash

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