I had a dream last night about volleyball. More specifically, varsity volleyball back from my high school days. If you were there, you’re wondering what on earth I had to dream about-the tryouts were only a week long and after that, well, I wouldn’t know. The truth is that I got cut from the varsity team. Two years in a row. Worst, I was the only person to get cut. The.Only.One. You can imagine what this would do to a person’s self worth. At sixteen and seventeen years old, when all that matters is being amazing and fitting in, I was a)not amazing, and b) I didn’t fit in. My friends played sports, or had musical inclinations (we’ll talk about that another day, but I knew better than to take that path to destruction) or were artistic geniuses. I was not. I was none of those things.
The coach called me the evening after the last day of tryouts. She tried to explain why I was cut, but her words were lost in the volume of sobs coming from my end of the phone. I was truly heartbroken, and I didn’t understand then why she did what she did. It’s still up for debate whether she did the right thing. But she mentioned a few things that still resonate with me:
“Why didn’t you go to a camp or clinic over the summer to improve your skills? If this was that important to you, you should have joined a club team at the gym to practice in the off-season.”
Luckily, the “volleyball scenario” only comes up once in a while, when people in my company are reminiscing about their younger years, engaged in memories of their elite athleticism. I stand by awkwardly mumbling that I didn’t do much in the way of sports when I was younger and hope no one asks any questions. Usually the conversation passes, and I can wipe the nervous sweat off of my brow, relieved that it’s all over. Again. But there will be another conversation, and I bide my time and wonder who is going to realize this ultimate shortcoming of mine. And for the love of God, people. I am thirty-three years old. I do realize that most people do not care one iota about whether or not I made the volleyball team a decade and a half ago, but it’s not that easy.
When you struggle with anxiety, you replay lots of less-than-sensational moments back in your head over and over. You wonder what other failures and destructions are going to occur in your life, and you hope to high heaven that not everyone remembers all of your shortcomings (and there are SOOOOO many) as vividly as you.
I do believe it is a sign, though. I mulled the dream all over in my head and tried to make connections. I mean, a dream CAN be just a dream, but I did find a connection.
I’ve entered myself in my second writing challenge. They are short, weekly little things where you submit a piece and people in that writing community vote on the entries. For the second week in a row I’m second to last. This is ok, although a little depressing. At least I’m getting out there and I’m learning a LOT about good writing through the voices of my peers.
My coach’s message was simple, but I didn’t understand its importance then. Why didn’t I dedicate time, any time, to this thing that was so apparently important to me? And you know what? I didn’t have an answer then. But every time I have approached failure since my senior year of high school when this all occurred, I have asked myself the same question. Am I doing enough to reach my goal? What else can I do to become better?
So here I am. Practicing. Thinking. Writing. Becoming better. And I’m ready for you to tell me that my overhand serve sucks. But stand by and help a sista out. I love tips and guidance.