I started off 2014 as a semi-professional soccer player. I lived soccer. It was my routine, my job, my reason for rising each morning, and the reason I went to bed each night. It shaped my personality, behavior, and attitude. Soccer forced me to become slightly extroverted, but the time I spent outside of soccer, I always enjoyed the quieter side of life: reading, music…anything that involved being alone!

But then I was hit by an illness and diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, a vestibular condition that causes crippling attacks of vertigo. It left me with partial hearing and endless days of exhaustion. It also affected my confidence and mental health. Initially, the condition got the better of me both physically and mentally. I spent more and more time alone. I had to give up my life, move back home, and learn how to live with this life changer, both physically and mentally. I also became increasingly aware of how much I relied on soccer for everything, from experience to socializing. At this point, I was reading lots, more than ever—it was my only form of escape.

I decided I needed to fill this big empty gap in my life by creating some kind of a project that would get me out into the world again to experience life as much as I could. I took quotes from people like Maya Angelou, Lao Tzu, and Rumi and worked them into my life. I started to live more than I have ever done before.

Before this condition struck me, I was a shy 26-year-old hiding in the competitive, extroverted world of soccer. But what I discovered through illness was living. I started to learn who I was and who I wasn’t. I am finally living in each day, for each day.