If there is one outcome I hate, it’s losing. Losing, in my opinion, can take on various form, and while I NEVER settled for anything short of doing my best in athletics, my personal life looked quite different. I did enough to “get by” because that was just it–it was “enough.” No one else was setting the bar high for me and if I was meeting their expectation, what was the point? If you aren’t willing to set the bar for yourself, you probably do not want the outcome enough. If you are not doing what it takes to reach that bar, you probably do not want the outcome enough.
I recently made a move to Virginia, and to be quite honest, things have not gone even close to how I had planned, to no fault of anyone else. My whole life I have let other people set the bar for me. I referenced athletics earlier because that was the one area in my life in which I truly set the bar. I promise this has a point, just brace yourself for throwback storytime:
For those of you who don’t know, I was an avid athlete growing up. I started playing sports at the age of 8, and my first was softball. It was exciting to put on that Charcoal Corral t-shirt, navy blue hat, cleats, and glove and field ground balls. I didn’t really care where I played for most of my first season as long as I got to play. Being in third grade on a team of sixth graders, I found myself in the outfield or just hitting. That sufficed for a while, but I wanted more: more action, more involvement, just…more. The season finished out with a lot of wins, a lot of trips to get soft serve vanilla ice cream after games, a lot of girls moving on to play junior high or junior varsity softball, and a young girl who had decided that she liked being involved and in control a whole lot more than sitting back and waiting to simply react in the off-chance that the (at that time) white softball should happen to fly her way. It was common practice for coaches to not let girls pitch until they were in fifth grade. Not being one to conform to expectations, or a lot of standards that I saw as pointless, I spent half of my fourth grade season begging my coach to let me pitch. There was no written rule—I knew I could do it. Finally, the day came. I remember a lot of it clearly—the park, the sunshine, the temperatures, the insects, the inning. It was a beautiful Saturday morning, and I do not recall much of the warm-up or the game up until the point I entered the pitching circle, but I can very easily think back to that first pitch and feel the sunshine beating on my arms (not my face, because I was a cool little tomboy and wore a baseball hat), remembering the sheer jubilee that filled my entire being as I stood on the mound and was THE PITCHER. Every pitch was in my control. I was in the center of the infield, I got the softball to start and end each play, and I knew that-–though lacking kinesthetic awareness and knowledge at the time—would eventually even be able to control how the ball spun and where it moved to. I…was…hooked. I had found a niche, despite being unready at that time to play at the NCAA Division I level, it was then that I decided that what I wanted. I had discovered a passion that had been planted deep inside of my soul that would ultimately guide the path of my life for the next 12 years. Many of my childhood friends will attest to the frequency of “practicing my mechanics” as I walked around my house (and their houses) and perform windmills to get the feel for doing it properly and reinforce good habits for the next time I had the chance to throw a ball again. I would be ready. I spent fifth and sixth grades as the main pitcher for my little league team, and had my sights set on junior varsity in 7th grade, because that’s just what the “good” athletes did. I began pitching lessons during the winter and my speed increased DRASTICALLY, to the point of my fastball being in the 50-52mph range. For a new, prepubescent, female pitcher, at only 5’2″ and 115lbs, that wasn’t too bad. Lo and behold, I made the team. Speed was my gifting, accuracy was not, but because my pitching coach told me it would come if I focused on throwing hard and practicing good biomechanics, I believed him–I kept throwing hard and practicing my pitching mechanics. That year was rough and I nearly quit; the people around me nearly made me quit, but the love of playing the game kept me in it. I constantly had messages thrown at me that I simply did not belong there–I wasn’t enough as a pitcher, I wasn’t enough as a person. Girls can be cruel, and I’ll leave it at that. Eighth grade came and went as eighth grade does–everyone is awkward, but I had found an athletic niche in basketball as well, thereby making athletics my proving grounds. It kept me in condition for softball. A funny statement in hindsight for the majority of softball players I knew growing up, because we were so out-of-shape it was ridiculous, but I digress. Ninth grade was the year I got really hard-nosed and determined. My parents signed me up to attend a three-day softball camp near Rochester, NY. It was wintertime, so we spent a lot of time indoors. I stayed for the extra pitching portion to get some coaching insight and possibly get some exposure, because if Division III coaches knew about me being good in ninth grade, SURELY they would tell the Division I coaches they knew. (Clearly I knew NOTHING about how the process actually works.) As should be a surprise to no one who knows me, I left my glove in the gym on the final day, and my mother and I had to make a special trip up to pick it up. While my mother and I were in the head coach’s office, headed out, he asked me what my softball goals were. “Well, I want to play Division I softball.” “Oh,” he said, “you’ll never be good enough to play Division I.” I stopped dead in my tracks and turned to face him. “You don’t have enough speed or pitches.” I’m sorry…what? If there is one thing I inherited from my father, it is stubbornness. I kept my thoughts to myself, thanked him for keeping my glove for me, and my mother and I headed out. On our way out, I told her tearfully, “that man is DEAD wrong. I WILL play Division I softball.” I cried most of the way home, feeling like I was the only one who really believed I would be able. It was a solid couple of months before I told any of my pitching coaches what he told me, but they all said he was absolutely crazy and continued to encourage me to pursue my dreams.
To make a long story…less long…I had the privilege of declining an offer from the coach who told me I was not good enough and wouldn’t play at the Division I level for a coach who believed I could.
If you REALLY care to read about a monumental moment time over the course of that four years playing Division I softball:
SO…the main point of all of that is that I set the bar, one of the only bars I’ve ever set for myself lifetime, and reached it.
I became so complacent and ever since have let others set the bar for me, and essentially attained their standards for me, frustrated because what they expected was not how I really fit. I was the right piece for the wrong place in the puzzle.
I had a lightbulb day yesterday–a significant, standing-in-the-middle-of-the-infield-with-the-sun-beating-on-my-arms-and-hat-completely-ready-to-rock-this-ballgame kind of day.
I realized why my entire professional career has been so incredibly frustrating:
God does nothing without a purpose. He gave me the seed of desire to play softball–as soon as I set foot in the pitching circle, I knew I was supposed to be there. It didn’t matter that no one locally had competed in Division I athletics, I was going to.
I have been frustrated beyond belief because I have not seemed to be able to make sense of why my passions, abilities, and experiences are so vast, yet seem to be quite compatible, and I just could not figure out how to make sense of them in light of the career paths that are the status-quo fitness/wellness options–bars that had already been set: clear expectations; policies, procedures, and limited risk. This has been especially true lately, as I have been reflecting on why life is seeming to take the twists and turns as it is; not being able to find a job description anywhere that really fits what I believe I am called to, I had given up hope. Last night, Tuesday into Wednesday, I laid in bed and pleaded with God to give me a spark and the drive to get moving to do whatever it is that I am supposed to be doing. I literally laid for hours trying to figure out what is going on in my life, and suddenly it hit me—other people have paved the way in this world doing what they love and being absolutely awesome at it, but why does it always have to be someone else? My life is NO ONE ELSE’S RESPONSIBILITY. It does NOT have to be someone else paving the way, on the front lines, and making an impact on the world. Why should I settle for what someone else has told me I have to be when I am created for more? It gets frustrating trying to put a puzzle piece in the wrong hole—it will never fit.
I do not want to be limited to “just” being a personal trainer, “just” being a pitching instructor, “just” being a blogger, “just” being a nutritional consultant–“just” doing anything.
Maybe things are falling through now as God’s way of creating a bigger space for me to do what I’ve been created for.
Yesterday I wrote the following journal entry:
“I know God didn’t give me such a mix of desires, experiences, frustrations, and abilities without a purpose. Perhaps my frustration of not being the all-in-one that I have wanted to be is because He has called me to be just that.
I believe He has placed a mix of dreams and desires in the hearts of men with the intent that they be carried out.”
I never fit anyone else’s mold because, quite frankly, I am not supposed to.
Why has this been a ceaseless frustration? No one was setting the bar for me as I had allowed all along.
I have become so accustomed to reaching the heights others have told me I should reach that I forgot how to set them for myself. I’ve known my niche for a while, I’ve just been trying to fit myself into the wrong place in the puzzle.
I hope this was beneficial for you in some way, shape, or form.
Do not settle for someone else’s expectations for your life—set the bar high in what you want and get there. Do what you have to.
And to think, I was going to write about cruciferous greens.