❤️It starts with the smallest comments, even from seemingly random situations: At the AVP Manhattan Beach Open earlier this summer, while I watched some friends and high-level athletes compete in beach volleyball, I ran into a parent of a girl I used to play against – she had attended USC, and I had attended UCLA. We competed against each other many times over the course of my undergraduate career.
He simply said to me while looking me straight in the eyes: “Kamila, are you healthy?” and I said… “I’m working on it.”
He replied, “Okay…Keep fighting the good fight. You can do it.”
I told him how much it meant to me what he said. “It’s nice to know that people care…”
“People care. More than you know. And you’re going to remember this conversation for a long time.” He smiled kindly, and as I held back tears, I smiled back.
I did remember that conversation. I held it deep in my heart.
I firmly believe that people come into your life for a reason, and God uses people to spread His love. Small gestures, conversations, and reaching out to others can have a large impact.
About a week ago, my world turned upside down. I started to experience severe symptoms that suggested the state of my health was in really bad shape. A couple times, I wasn’t sure if I was going to live to see another day, but I couldn’t decipher if my symptoms were actually happening, or a fabrication in my mind due to anxiety and stress.
After gathering more information on the strange things I was feeling, and many visits to multiple doctors, I received some devastating news: my heart is currently in a weakened and compromised position, isn’t beating properly, and it needs significant rest and monitoring in order to become fully healthy again. The type of treatment I need would require me to completely uproot my life and change everything as I know it:
1. I’d have to take a medical leave from school and put my 2-year master’s program on hold
2. I’d have to leave my job
3. I’d have to relinquish athletic plans I was beyond excited for - to train with the p1440 Developmental beach volleyball team I’d made earlier that summer, and partnerships for the p1440 tournaments I’d already planned to compete in
4. I’d have to move away from my home and friends in Los Angeles to seek medical care in a more affordable manner, close to family in San Diego
5. For a time, I’d have to give up the active and athletic lifestyle that brings me so much pride, joy, and fulfillment
This isn’t just a lifestyle change… this is a halt to everything I’m doing. It feels like the foundations I had been working so hard for, to build a good life, have all been stripped away. It feels like I have taken 10 steps backward, maybe more. And the worst part about it was I felt like I was finally hitting my stride before my heart started to beat so strangely. I felt like I was finally achieving a work-life-school-sport balance independently, and I was proud of it. I was confident that I was moving in the right direction… but I was also running myself into the ground with everything that I was doing. And I convinced myself that my body and my mind were fine…until they weren’t.
I’ve been in the hospital for the past 6 days, bedridden and being monitored 24/7: a complete 180 degree turn from what I am used to. To say I’m frustrated and disappointed is an understatement. Part of me feels like I failed at taking care of myself while trying to handle the stressors of life, learning to be a young and independent adult. I’m not the type of person who ever wants to stop improving, and it feels shameful and embarrassing to be unable to see my commitments through.
I did not want to stop. I did not want to give up. I did not want to fail.
BUT… enough of the pity party!
This post was written because I need to express my undying gratitude for the outpouring of love I’ve received from my community of friends and family lately. As I mentioned before, God places people in your life for a reason. He speaks through them, and lives through them. Through my people, I found the strength to stop and reevaluate, which was far more difficult than continuing life as I knew it.
Upon receiving the news of the poor condition my heart and body are currently in, I began to seek counsel from those I cared about on what I should do. I asked my family, and I confided in my closest friends. I even asked my younger brothers what they thought I should do. I know now, that God spoke to me through many of those conversations.
I remember crying on my close friend's shoulder one night, filled with anxiety about making this life-altering decision: do I stay the course and power through whatever was happening to my body, or drop everything, leave everyone, to heal?
I told her that my greatest fear is that I won’t be able to return to communities of people or the lifestyle that I love – within my beach volleyball community, within my graduate program, within my workplace – or that I wouldn’t be accepted or loved when I came back.
“I finally found my people. I finally feel like I belong here. The last thing I want to do is leave... I am so scared to leave.”
She responded with so much compassion, “Kamila, your people want you healthy. Your people want you strong. Your body is resilient, it will get better, and we aren’t going anywhere. We’ll be right here when you come back.”
I just turned 24 on September 10th. Multiple times, I was surprised for an entire week with unexpected treats, celebrations, and outpourings of love that overwhelmed me with joy and filled my heart with gratitude. I’ve been stunned by the generosity and kindness that people have shown to me lately. I hadn’t felt so cared for in a long time.
I will say this… I would not have decided to stop everything that I was doing, without a good number of people encouraging me to do so. Without grounding myself in solid relationships, I would have continued to run myself into the ground seeking some sort of satisfaction and desire to find purpose in all the busyness. In my honest opinion, the care, generosity, prayers, and good counsel I have received from family and friends in recent weeks have saved my life.
I am motivated more than ever now to make a full recovery and return to those who have shown me love and kindness. I want to show up as a better member of my community, as one who can give to others as much as others have given to me.
When I’m fully strong again, my body won’t look the same. I won’t feel the same. I won’t be the same as how I left. I have goals to complete my graduate program. I have goals to compete as a professional athlete. And I have goals to become the best friend, family member, and community member that I can be. I want to love others well and live fully.
This summer was one of the most challenging and stressful times of my life. I was pushed to my limits. But I was also inspired by driven, successful, incredible people who were passionate about living fully, cultivating the lifestyle they wanted each day, and sharing it with others. I finally believe that I have the power first heal, and then to do the same.
Fall will be a time for rest, renewal, and rebuilding.
I have no clue how I’m going to figure everything out when I come back, or how I’m going to balance everything I’ve set out to accomplish. All I know is… I firmly resolve to come back much stronger.
To everyone who has shown me kindness and compassion lately, thank you.
To everyone who goes out of their way to reach out to others, you might be changing that person’s life.
Thanks for reading 😊