Column: ESP-Em

Let’s get away from football this week. It seems like everything sports from August until February is somehow centered around college football or the NFL, so here’s your break from the football
media circus.

Instead of thinking about the big upset last weekend or whether Buckshot is actually injured, think about the simpler times. The times when you only liked the team your dad liked and when you spent your Saturdays playing on a local Little-League team.

Playing soccer and basketball with my church’s Upward Sports league was a pretty big part of my childhood. My Saturday mornings and Thursday nights were spent on soccer drills that I wasn’t the best at, or missing shots in the middle of a basketball game. 

Or, when those sports were out of season, my afternoons were spent learning how to do a backflip in gymnastics or throwing my classmates to the mat in Judo lessons. I even made it to level four and learned to dive in my swim lessons, which was the world’s biggest accomplishment to eight-year-old me.

Looking back, I was never the best at any of those activities. (Mom, Dad, if you’re reading this, please let me know if I actually was the best. I need more accomplishments to put on my resumé.) I don’t know that I ever made a basket playing basketball, and I still can’t properly dive into a pool. 

But I loved playing them anyways, and I met some of my best childhood friends in the process. I had a blast with each sport, and part of it may have been because I wasn’t really that competitive. We were just playing a game, not trying to be the best at everything.

And sometimes I wonder where that carefree fun went. Though I still enjoyed extracurriculars going into middle and high school, I started driving myself for the competition instead of enjoyment. I wanted to be the fastest, the strongest, the smartest, the whatever-est.

That drive for competition made me afraid, too. I didn’t sign up for things like theater and class officer positions because I was afraid to fail. I was petrified before my first color guard audition because I thought failure was the end of the world.

I think that fearlessness was part of what made playing sports as a kid so much fun and such a nostalgic thought. When I look back at my high school track meets, I think of the competition and the time I got first place because all the faster girls dropped the race. 

But if I look back at my elementary school soccer games, I think of playing around on the sidelines and eating post-game fruit snacks and Capris Suns with my friends. I can’t remember how many games I won or how many goals I scored because those weren’t what mattered.

I’m still working to get out of that competitive frame of mind and reminding myself that I can’t be the best at everything, but I can still enjoy it. I wasn’t the best girl in the color guard here at Liberty, but I absolutely loved performing anyways.

The moral of the story is, if you want to try out for that sport or sign up for that club, go for it. Don’t get wrapped up in the competition and in trying to be the best at everything. It’s okay to stink, but it’s not okay to skip out on things you enjoy because you’re afraid to fail.

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