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Ashleigh Gunning Blog: Defining yourself

Ashleigh Gunning and Family
Ashleigh Gunning and Family

Ashleigh Gunning and family have a little fun while posing for a photo, because life is about more than soccer.

Soccer is not my life. Go ahead and check to make sure you’re on the right site and reading the blog you thought you were reading… yep, you’re on a women’s professional soccer site and reading a blog by someone who plays soccer every day. But, I stand by my statement: soccer is not my life! It is my job, it is a passion of mine, it is a huge blessing in my life, it has been a big part of my life as long as I can remember—but it has never been and will never be, MY LIFE.

Before you get any ideas about me not appreciating opportunities or what I get to do everyday I’d like to let you know that I thank God each and every day that I get to do what I love for a living: Play soccer. As I am preparing for my life after soccer I keep trying to imagine myself in different careers and it always comes back to one thing: Will that career give me as much joy as soccer has? Getting to play soccer as my job has really set the bar high for anything I do after. I have friends who have known since they were four or five years old that they wanted to be a doctor, teacher, nurse, dancer, etc. and I have been dreaming since I was that same age about being a professional soccer player. But, I don’t think it has ever been my sole dream. I also have dreamed of being a writer, a mother, a college professor, motivational speaker, and lots more. There’s a very tight balance between holding on to and focusing on one dream and allowing yourself to simultaneously have other dreams, too.

It might surprise you to know that I was a full fledge orchestra nerd for almost 10 years! Oh yeah, that’s right, orchestra…. First chair cello right here! I was in my school’s orchestra, the Louisiana State Youth Orchestra, and even dabbled a bit in a string quartette. I loved playing cello and still do, but that isn’t who I am either.

School has always been really important to me! I graduated college Summa Cum Laude, and I am currently in my last semester of graduate school at Northeastern University working on my master’s in sports leadership. I am also a total nerd about school and good grades! It’s not unusual for me to be catching up on studying while waiting around before a game. But, degrees and good grades are not who I am.

So, are you now trying to figure out where I am going with this? Well, do me a favor and ask yourself, “Who am I?” What immediately comes to your mind? Are you thinking about who you are in your family? Because, I LOVE my family!! My family is hands down the coolest thing about me! You know those families that people love being around because you never know what is going to happen next? That’s us, kind of strange, a bit out there, but a guaranteed good time! I am the youngest child and only girl in my family and you can ask my big brothers, I fill the baby girl role perfectly. But, even that isn’t who I am.

Who you are doesn’t change—it can evolve and you can grow, but I don’t think it ever completely changes. People come in and out of your life to help you become who you are meant to be– be thankful for those people! You’ll have experience that with help you become who you are meant to be—be thankful for the good and the bad ones.  Careers, they change; hobbies and interest change too. Talent fades. Sadly, family and friends aren’t always going to be there. Something that seems monumental today will be a tiny insignificant memory down the road. Take time to do things that make you happy. Allow your interest (like soccer) to teach you lessons that you use in all other parts of your life.

So when I say that soccer isn’t my life and isn’t who I am, I hope you now understand where I am coming from. I also hope that you will take some time to think about this concept in your life. Don’t let your personal perception of yourself be dictated by what you do, where you live, who you know, or how successful you are at something. You are special and until you allow yourself to grow into more than the mold someone or something else creates for you, you’ll never shine as bright as you’re meant to.

I guess I haven’t really answered the question have I? Who am I? Well, as I understand it now: I am a child of God. I am strong and courageous. I am determined to love people well. And I am thankful.

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