Activity: Strolling around in Blue Heron Park– Staten Island, NY

6 Years and a Few Months Ago

October 2014

I think it would be difficult not to talk about rugby on a date where my face is so very smashed. As I took my selfie for this, I reflected on the many black eyes, bruised thigh photo sessions I have had over the years of rugby, which brings me into thoughts about passions in life. What are the things in life you would take a hit to the face for? 

On this date, I took a stroll around the most beautiful little spot where I’m from. This allowed me to reflect on all the passions that I have had in this life so far. I have found this to be the most simple serene way of finding peace during this busy life, a walk can be head clearing. This walk took me to a place of immense gratitude and needs to become a practice going forward.

People aren’t passions and yet that is what it feels like people my age are solely focused on. They want to find that person, you know, the one! Dating and going out and all of these ways of getting to know other people is the focus, the life. 

I have found that so many young people spend so long looking for another person and locking themselves into that life that they forget to find themselves and their own passions. I see so many couples who don’t spend a second apart and then when the two of them fall apart, it is hard to figure out who the hell they are. Who am I without her/him? 

“You have to keep your own fire burning.” -JM, a coworker on my teaching team as told by her parents.   

Note to self: 10 You are not a half! You’re a whole godamn person. Stop cutting yourself in half to be someone else’s completion. Complete your godamn self, woman! 

Like puzzle pieces

I picture a whole crop of people, maybe married right out of high school or college, walking around as puzzle pieces leaning into each other. When they pull apart to do anything alone, they penguin walk or topple completely because it’s hard to walk alone if you’re shaped all puzzle piecey– heavily leaning towards your other. The more you lean on each other without finding your own passions, the less able you are to stand on your own two feet. This is what happens when we don’t find our own passions. Our pieces shift and we become less and less of a whole.

I think in life we all have to have passions. Single and looking, single and solo dating, together with one, together with many– whatever your love situation is, you have to have your own passions as well.

People can’t be your passions or your whole life.

You have to be the one keeping yourself passionate, keeping your own flame burning as my dear coworker pointed out. 

Now, I guess in this way, I am lucky that I did not plummet into that life long romance early in my life. And that isn’t to say that it isn’t amazing for people who get that– but it is inherently more difficult to force yourself to find the real you and the things you’re passionate about, when you have someone to spend all of your free time with. 

Spending time with another person, especially one you’re in love with, is amazing. Relationships are wonderful and you change from that ‘I’ version of your life to the ‘we’ version.

The thing is the ‘we’ version has completely different passions as the ‘I’ version. When people get together too young, sometimes they blur the life of I and we, never finding out the true entirety of the desires of the I. 

Maybe this is why people divorce. The ‘I’ wants to break out from the ‘we’ at some point, realizing they never had a life of their own. People are not passionate about the same things all of the time. Even the things they do have in common have varying levels and so, one person might still want to put even more time into something than their partner does. 

Most of the divorces I have seen, and unfortunately it has been a lot, have ended because someone needed something more that they were passionate about. They had lost passion somewhere along the way of their marriages. That’s why everyone needs to keep their own fire burning. 

Don’t get me wrong– a good partner gets you the wood and maybe saves you the toilet paper rolls they can. YOU need to be the one tending to that fire though and breathing on it through the rain, when it’s hard to keep going. You need to be the one to set the boundaries and find ways to keep that passion in your life. It’s really easy to let other things get in the way of your passions and then blame your spouse or someone else– but again that fire is your job just like their fire is theirs. 

For you non-single people hating on me in your head right now, I am not saying you can’t work on the I and we together. As I just said, bring your partner the wood– I am not saying you can’t find the balance. I am merely saying it is easier to find yourself if you have all the time in the world and that it is complicated to also focus on someone else during that time. If you have found the ability to and more importantly, found a partner who can too, bravo for you and balance. We all should be so lucky to find that.

I, for one, have not been so lucky. I have found that when I’m with someone, I’m bad at the ‘I.’ I’m lucky if I even focus on the ‘we’ since I often focus on my partner more than myself. I understand the idea of balance but I just obsess and it’s hard to find me.

As for that me though, that me alone, I believe in being a constantly actively-progressing person and I have a sharp distaste for people who live in the realm of stagnancy. I sometimes think being in a couple pushes you towards that *life pause* because you just put more time into that ‘we’ than into the ‘me’.

For me, being single at some key moments has given me the time, space, and freedom to find things I am passionate about. Lucky for me, there have been MANY, but none like rugby. I light up merely typing those 5 letters. Rugby<3

Prom Dress Rugby- Babe and brawn

My heart picks up almost instantaneously, knowing what is about to come up. Knowing the topic of rugby is afoot. 

Do you know how you feel when you have a crush and you read her name? That quick burst, face flushing feeling? That is the way my mind and body react when I read the word rugby.  

My god I am lucky to have a passion like that. I have been playing since my sophomore year of college and the feeling has not changed. Every single game, every practice– the crush remains at large. 

In a mere twist of fate, a friend of mine joined the men’s rugby team. He said ‘Michie, you should play rugby’ to me one night while we were out with our friends. I just looked at him and said ‘yea’. That’s it. 

I said it like I knew it was it, like I had always known that was the thing I was looking for. This is the way a young me pictured romantic love. Basically you heard her name and it was like you’d known all along that she was it.

I searched my entire life for the sport of all sports and finally there she was. Rugby. She was it. 

UAlbany V New Paltz– Ruck Fest 2012

From that year on, rugby was more than a sport, it became a passion and a lifestyle. Rugby became absolutely everything and unlike a boyfriend, rugby never left. 

The thing about rugby for me was there was no fatal flaw– no one big thing I couldn’t do. In baseball, I couldn’t slide. In swimming, I couldn’t dive. Like dead end jobs, there is little you could do to progress in sports with such a huge deficit. 

Rugby wasn’t like that. In rugby, there was a position for every body type– and specifically for mine. My first practice, they said ‘she’s a prop’. I had no idea what that meant then, but for you non-rugby people, it basically means I am going to run straight into you if you give me the ball and if you have it, I am going to murder you. I mean tackle you. That is the job of the prop– the big lady on campus. I have been a prop since the second I entered the world of rugby and I remain one now. 

Rugby gave me the passion that everyone needs in their life. Rugby gave me that thing that I could always work hard for, always get better at– but also be absolutely humbled by. 

I remember in one of my better seasons in college I got my bell rung to say. I still remember the hit and the player. Her name sounded just like mine so it was always confusing to play against her. Anyway, she goes low and hits me in maybe the most beautiful, textbook tackle I have ever been a part of. Humbling. I was huge at the time but remember the biggest player can be taken out by a clean, low hit. Take that lesson with you.

October 2, 2010 UAlbany v Clarkson

She went on to shake my hand in the social and say how proud she was of that tackle. She admitted her team had trouble getting me down the whole game as I was in fact, a truck. She did it though and she did it well. She bought me a beer and we laughed a whole lot about the game together after at the social. We had a bond as players who had gone against each other for our college years. 

For those on the outside, this all sounds foreign, but that is truly how rugby is played. That is the way of the sport. You duel it out and put every single ounce of what you have into the match. The best effort wins. You celebrate together after because you’re lucky to have gotten to play.

Rugby in itself is the reward. Every game is a blessing in this short life.

My god, I am lucky this is the passion I was born with and I may never have had the blessing of playing if I didn’t stop to put the time into myself. 

Learning: You always need to be the star of your own life and when you find your passion, don’t let her go.

Present Day 2020 

Wow, 6 years later and not much has changed when it comes to how I feel about rugby. I’m here more than a decade under the influence of rugby, and it has changed my life in such remarkable ways.

While editing this near a friend, she asked who I was writing about since I suppose I had that shit eating grin on that I get when I write about the women I adore.

Rugby, it always comes back to ‘her.” 

Anyway, I have learned over and over again to continue to put the time into my own passions because lovers come and go. At that solo dating time in my life, before COVID made it easy to go days without contact, I was on dates multiple times a week. I put so much time into finding the person I was passionate about that I didn’t always put that same amount of time and effort into myself. 

I will say– rugby has always taken the cake. Over the years, I have had more partners be jealous of rugby than of any person or thing. Ironically, I have actually had to find the balance of choosing other things over rugby. I’m not proud to say, I have spent a wedding sneaking looks at my phone to see how my team was doing, but then again I am a Williamson. Sports. We love sports. 

Get yourself friends who will still laugh when you headbutt them in a game– this was a day or so before the solo date

I love all sports, but being a rugby player is one of the things I’m most proud. I’m most proud of this one because of what it is. Rugby, as a sport and a community, is different. It’s more than just a sport– it’s a way of life. Rugby people are the toughest, yet kindest people I know and that’s my exact kind of crowd. 

I love reflecting on that story from college of the girl who knocked me on my ass. I left out that what made us connect is that I took maybe a whole minute to get up from that hit. It was one of those hits, the Michie cry hits.

Fun Fact: I still follow her on social media and actually when I go to tag myself, her name comes up before my own so I come across her often.

That same player went on to play a division higher than me. She’s truly one of the best players I’ve even had the pleasure of playing against so I’m certainly not embarrassed to say she gave me one of the first big hits of my rugby career and made me shed some tears. At that time, I was huge. I wasn’t used to players being able to take me down like that. She could though EASILY and she got me ready for what was to come. She pushed me to level up and for that, I’m forever grateful. 

Rugby pushes me every single year to level up, as any good passion should. Remember stangance is sin. 

Learning: Having the right passions ensure you’re always leveling up.