I often wonder if we create our own or if opportunities effortlessly come to us. I question why I was given countless opportunities throughout my life and some people seem to be searching for just one opportunity. – Megan Cyr Team Canada Volleyball
What Makes Something An Opportunity?
Is it the opportune timing or is it having a “YES” mentality? Is it opening a door yourself or waiting for one to swing open for you?
I am not sure I have the answer. But, I do know my experience with opportunities through life and sport. One thing I can say is that opportunities are often disguised.
An opportunity may be in the form of a professional contract, but it could also come in the shape of an injury. Opportunities might look like a well-paved path, but it could also be an unexpected bump in the road. Opportunity might look like success. However, some of my greatest opportunities were camouflaged as failure.
You get the picture.
Opportunities Are All Around Us
Opportunities are all around us if we are open to every moment, change, chance and event being one.
Early on in my career as an athlete, I did not have this outlook. After enduring many unexpected changes and hardships that resulted in hours of crying and dwelling over things out of my control. I pitied my circumstances more than I would like to admit. Finding it hard to stay positive because I was unable to see the bigger picture.
After five years of professional volleyball, I finally welcome opportunities (good and bad) with open arms because I know they lead me to exactly where I am supposed to be.
In 2008, I went to the University of Colorado on a full-scholarship with plans to play four years and graduate in 2012. I was red-shirted unexpectedly, which turned out to be a great thing when my coaches were fired after the first season. The new coaching staff put our team through hell and revoked my scholarship after my second season.
Devastation soon turned to gratitude when I realized I had three years left and a fresh start at a new school – North Carolina State University.
My first professional contract in Austria was plagued with problems. Everything from VISA issues, poor organization to bad volleyball. After two months, I made the decision to leave. My first taste of professional volleyball was enough for me to never want to go back. Five hours away from my flight home when my agent informed me that a team in Germany was in need of a setter. Hesitantly I canceled my flight and was on a train the next day, uncertain of what my future looked like.
I was ready to start a new venture and career path after my Austrian experience. I was comfortable with the idea of going home. Had I let fear get in the way, I would have missed out on the last five years of volleyball.
In 2014, after competing in the World Championships with the Canadian Women’s National team I made the decision to go home. I turned down professional contracts’ to be with my family and friends during a difficult period. I was at home for around two weeks when my Canadian teammate contacted me about coming to play for her team in Switzerland. This opportunity went against my plans. It was not what I had in mind for myself. I went despite the confusion and abrupt change in plans.
I spent the following two years with that team in Neuchatel, Switzerland. Up until that point in my career, my feelings about professional volleyball were mixed. My love for the game was diminishing. I was losing confidence in myself as a player. Those two years sparked a newfound passion for the game and rekindled my spirit. I am thankful.
I could go on forever about opportunities. Through my athletic journey, I have many stories to share. Trust me I am blessed and appreciative for the doors that opened and continue to open. I thank God for that. I believe He plays the biggest role in my journey.
However, I try to do my part by always saying YES to always do the thing that scares me most. To always face fear, instead of run from it. To always do the thing that makes me extremely uncomfortable. If an opportunity arises and I get anxious, nervous, or scared then I know it is right.
Those negative feelings are false. Feelings of fear and inadequacy are the ego getting in the way.
If I listened to my ego, my volleyball career would have ended prematurely. Trust me, the ego thrives on fear and keeps us down. I choose to have faith instead.
My greatest advice to young athletes is to stay open and stay patient.
Do not close yourself off to all the possibilities that this world has to offer.
Welcome change, adversity, and hardship with the same open arms that you welcome success, consistency, and happiness.
Be ready for the road to get foggy and be willing to walk through the darkest times.
Stay patient when it feels as though all doors are closed. I promise you one if not more, are open.
When things feel like they are closing in and unbearable, trust in the unseen future.
The bigger picture will reveal itself in time.
That’s all I have for you. As a 28-year-old professional athlete with fifteen years of playing volleyball under my belt, I do not have it all figured out. Not even close. I still struggle with these exact things because at the end of the day, we are human and we are flawed.
But, I am starting to understand that this is all part of the process.
And the process is an OPPORTUNITY to learn and grow, both as an athlete and human.