Today we’re going to have a little storytime. Get your lollipops and blankets and gather ‘round, kids. Just be careful not to fall asleep with a lollipop in your mouth because it will get stuck in your hair. Not that that’s happened to me before. (Yes it has.)
A few years ago, Brendan, our roommate Aaron and I were driving to a Yankees game. We were on the Major Deegan (a highway in NY, for those of you not familiar), waiting in that dreadful line to get off on exit 4 or 5 or whatever it is. We were semi-patiently waiting our turn but of course, there are all those jerks who wait until the last minute and try to cut you off to get off the exit without waiting in traffic.
I’m sorry, did you miss the kindergarten lesson about patience?
Anywho, we’re all antsy to get to the game and frustrated at these people trying to cut everyone off, and people are waving and yelling at the lady in front of us to let them in. So she starts LETTING EVERYONE IN. Not just one person to be nice…I am sometimes okay with that. But she stops and lets about 8-9 cars in.
(I guess I missed the patience lesson too.) Naturally everyone is honking and screaming because this is the Bronx and that’s what happens, and Aaron says:
“This woman has probably been getting walked over all her life.”
It made sense to me. I thought, “I never want to be someone who gets taken advantage of.” And then I had a flash that I kind of WAS like that. I needed to stop letting people walk over ME.
Let me call out the elephant in the room – I overreacted to a tiny, insignificant detail about a car ride to Yankee Stadium and this person’s annoying driving skills. #DRAMATIC
Still, I remembered this story today while sitting in traffic, and started thinking about how differently I feel now. I do have a point if you stick with me. Let me just back-back-back it up for a hot second. Again.
As long as I can remember, I’ve played sports. My first memorable experience was playing softball in 1st or 2nd grade.
I distinctly remember playing shortstop (I remember this because I thought I had to play that position because I was shorter than everyone else) and doing cartwheels in the grass instead of paying attention to the batter. I imagine it like this scene in Ladybugs. (If you’re keeping track, yes that’s the 2nd time in one week that I’ve included a clip from this 1992 movie.)
As my dad would proudly tell you, one day he took me to buy a bat and I HAD TO HAVE the biggest, non-child sized one. To reference my earlier statement about being short, I was the tiniest little midget child on the team. But I had to have that huge bat for reasons still unbeknownst to me. Always being one to encourage you to chase your dreams, my dad bought it for me and sent me off to my game.
I stepped up to the plate with the aforementioned bat. I remember everyone laughing because, duh, that must have been a ridiculous sight. Everyone said I was silly to try to use it. I was timid and SCARED. They brought in the coach to pitch because A) they were worried that I was too fragile to take a real pitch from a fellow 1st grader or B) the pitcher couldn’t even reach the plate. I’m still not quite sure. Regardless, they tossed me the ball and I swung real hard at the air.
And only hit air.
Isn’t that the worst feeling? Its like shooting an air ball and missing, but 10x worse.
They pitched again, but this time my huge bat connected with the ball – probably because it was so huge and like, how could you not hit an easy pitch with that amount of surface area – and, as my dad would say, I “hit a grand slam”. Out of the park, over the fences, see ya never. The validity of “grand slam” is still a little iffy, but rumor has it that everyone was impressed with my 1st grade strength and tenacity.
If you’re wondering, yes, this is still a story my dad tells. Potentially my greatest athletic accomplishment to date in sports that include balls. If only iPhones existed back then so I could post it on Instagram for Throwback Thursday.
This is the first time I remember feeling AWESOME and so proud of myself.
Anyway, now I’ve told you two stories and haven’t gotten to my point. Why are you telling random stories about driving and 1st grade softball, you ask? Great question.
I used to be a person who let people walk over me. Someone who bowed to others and assumed they were smarter than me. Along the line, I started learning – through sports, I believe – that you should never let other people take advantage of you and you have to do scary things to grow. My level of bravery slowly began to increase.
*stepping up on soap box* (Why is “soap box” even a phrase?)
Working in a yoga studio and being a person who frequents gyms and studios often, I’ve heard people say countless times that they’re too afraid to go to a class/sign up for a race/whatever it is because they’re worried they can’t keep up, they’re worried what people will think of them, they’re worried they’ll look dumb.
It hurts my heart when people let someone else’s supposed opinions or judgments dictate their own lives. And you know what? I’ll venture to guess that 99% of the time, the “people judging you” are all in your own head.
Sure, new things are hard, but you cannot actually expect to be a pro the first time you try something.
You know what you do? You get your booty in there, tell the instructor you’re new, and do your best to keep up. You put the effort and energy into working hard instead of worrying. You deserve it. You stand tall and don’t think twice about what anyone else might think of you and what you’re doing. They’ll notice your determination and smile before they notice anything else.
Fear is normal. But letting fear stop you from trying doesn’t get you any closer to your goal, no matter how big or small. If you’re not willing to do hard/scary things, you’re going to be sitting on your soft little cloud, comfortable but likely feeling unsatisfied and bored as shit.
MY POINT IS (hooray, I’ve finally gotten to my point!) to think that people avoid anything they want to do because they’re scared hurts my heart. I hate hearing that people are avoiding taking a class or joining a team or doing whatever it is they want to do…because there’s so much opportunity for growth there.
Through sports, I’ve gained self–confidence.
I’ve learned to be mentally strong and to not let people take advantage of or belittle me.
To be tough but kind.
To be a good sport and not a sore loser.
That you have to work hard and that nothing is given to you.
That I can always bring value to something if I approach it in my own way, using my skills to bring to it what I can.
That its a waste of time to worry about the opinions of others about me, as long as I know I’m a good person trying to better myself and those around me.
I want EVERYONE to feel this way. I don’t want people to miss out on all that.
So, we all have the opportunity to inspire others in these small ways. Why live in fear…of what others think…of failure…of anything? There’s happiness on the other side of TRYING, and you trying might encourage someone else to try, too.
So, my final point is: Regret sucks. Stop worrying, take a risk, and just fucking do it*. You owe it to yourself.
And don’t cut me off on the way to a Yankees game.
Now tell me: What are you going to do?
*I’m sorry I used a curse word Mom and Dad. Please forgive me.