JJ s Story

Lawrenceville, New Jersey USA

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"For the entirety of my life, I had hidden behind the athletic mask, the way others saw me. As an athlete, you are perceived to be tough, selfless, and able to battle through any circumstance. It did not help that the athlete I was being labeled as was a hockey player. As hockey players, we are labeled as crazybarbaric athletes. And, I used that as a way to never allow anyone to see who I truly was.

For several years, I battled with constant fear- fear of being judged, fear of being labeled, fear of others calling me out for not 'acting like an athlete'. Because of this, I bottled these emotions up inside me, and I portrayed them negatively to other people around me. I ruined relationships, friendships, and I hurt many people.

I always imagined ways that I could go back and say sorry to the people I hurt. And, at times, I would stay up late at night, contemplating whether or not to message the person and say sorry. I often got scared, feared what they would think of me and that they would judge me amongst their friends. I feared that, if I showed sensitivity, kindness, and compassion, everyone would think of me as a 'wuss'. This vicious cycle continued. I never allowed what was really going on to come out. I hid it all from friends and family. And, I can honestly things are not entirely better to this day.

 

Yes, I have learned to live and let go, learned to accept myself, and learned to allow others into my life, but for those that refuse to see the change in me and the person I am becoming, I am sorry I wronged you. To this day, I still sometimes sit there quietly and think of scenarios in my head. I worry too often and think about the wrong things I have done. I still push away family, remain silent around loved ones, and feel unhappy with how others perceive me.

What keeps me going though is: you and the many people that will support and love me. My ability to push away from my athletic mask and know it is okay for others to not see me as just an athlete but to also see me as a kind, compassionate person is what keeps me going.

Now, what has happened has happened, and I cannot go back and change that. I can only say sorry so many times. Whether people believe me or not, or to see the person I see myself as, is irrelevant because, at the end of the day, I will always stay true to myself and love everyone around me.

I promise to be the light and the voice for others and I will not stop until I get there. I believe I am capable of so much more, and what others see me as can't change what I truly believe in and love. You are never alone in this battle; find something you love, attack it, continue to do it with a full-heart. Wake up every day feeling blessed, knowing you are capable and you are amazing. Everything always works out- just believe."

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