I remember my senior year at FAMU like it was yesterday. It was honestly one of my least pleasant experiences playing basketball. We had poor team chemistry, and I wasn’t always seeing eye-to-eye with my coaches. That season was the first time I ever counted down the ending of a basketball season. I was ready to go!
Not only was the environment hard to endure, but my performance also sat at an all-time low. I wasn't focused enough to pull myself together and my lifestyle didn’t reflect that of a winner. Looking back I can finally laugh about the truth. I was a hot mess that year!
After that season I had so many negative thoughts floating around in my head. Is basketball over for me? Am I good enough to accomplish my dreams of playing professionally? By this time I had stopped talking about my dreams of playing at the pro level.
My dream seemed so far away.
I didn’t want to be disappointed if my plans failed, so I didn’t speak about it. Have you ever been so doubtful about something that you refused to speak about it? That’s dangerous because we should always be speaking positive words about our future!
My decision was made. I sat my parents down in May of 2014 and announced to them that I would no longer pursue basketball after graduation. In retrospect, I now understand the shock on their faces after I told them.
Let me put it in perspective for you. These were the people who listened to me talk about my dream my whole life, from the age of 10. These were the people who cheered for me, supported me, and invested in me like nobody else. Yet, I stood in front of them to announce that I, Taneka Rubin, was quitting.
Seven months later I landed in London, England playing basketball and earning my Master's degree for free. That was the beginning of my experience as a basketball player overseas, and since then I’ve played in 3 different countries as a professional athlete.
Well, that escalated quickly.
So, what happened during those 7 months that changed my mind?
Here are three reasons why I didn’t give up on my dream, and why you shouldn’t either.
1. I discovered my passion. When you are passionate about something, you have no choice but to pursue it. Or else you’ll be left with an empty feeling because of your lack of action. During my last semester of classes, I worked as an assistant basketball coach for a local high school team. During that time my passion for the game slowly returned.
God placed me in an environment where the game was pure again. No scandals. No unrealistic expectations. No drama. This was the environment where I fell in love with the game as a child. I saw my first love again. It made sense to me again, and I realized it wasn’t time to coach because my passion to play the game was still alive.
2. I invested too much. Think about your greatest investment. What have you put the most time, effort, or money into doing? Can you imagine the thought of wasting your investment and giving up? That is essentially what I would have done. I put in too many hours to give up. I was in too deep, and I invested a lot behind the scenes. The reason it’s so easy for some people to quit is that they don’t take pride in what they do.
In addition to my investment, there were a whole bunch of people who invested in me as well. I believe if someone invests in you, you have to deliver. Some people did that in the form of time, some gave me encouraging words, and some gave me money during college. It would be a slap in the face to give up when people believe and invest in you.
3. God spoke to me concerning my future. One weekend I went home and visited my church where my dad is a pastor. That same weekend a woman from the church told me I wasn’t supposed to quit playing basketball because God had plans to take me to London. At the time I had just announced my plans to quit to my parents, and it looked impossible for me. I know this may come as a surprise to some of you reading, but God does speak.
At the time, I wasn't in a position to hear what He had to say to me (I didn’t spend much time in prayer). Thankfully I was fortunate enough to be around people who could hear what He had to say about my future. I took what she said very seriously and looked for my opportunity to come. My best advice to you if you are reading this is to get around someone who can hear God if you don’t have a relationship with Him yourself.
Hear me very clearly, if you have a dream inside you it isn't random. You are supposed to pursue that dream with every ounce of your being.
Yes, doubt will creep in.
Yes, you will be discouraged and feel like quitting.
Quitting, however, is not an option. Before you make such definitive decisions about your life, do some soul searching. Take a break and ask God to lead you. I’m living proof that He will guide you if you let Him.
There is a winner in you! Don’t give up!