I still think back on the summer I played soccer fondly. Well technically there have been two summers I played soccer, but the first was more of a social event than an athletic challenge.The first summer of soccer consisted of 5th grade farm kids who swatted mosquitoes more than they blocked goals, played in torn up fields in the middle of the Rural Routes, and came in the very last of the last in whatever tournament decided to measure 5th grade farm kids. Those farm kids were (a couple still are!) some of my dearest friends, so of course I look at that summer of soccer very fondly, but for the purpose of this blog, we will focus on the second.
That summer of soccer was a pure learning experience for me. I was 22 and hadn't played soccer in 12 years, hadn't been on a sports team in 7 years, hadn't worked out...ever. I joined because of a boy and didn't know anyone else on the team, and though he wasn't there the first few games I made the crazy decision to go anyways. It was terrifying. I had no idea what I was doing in a group of people who had no pre-existing reason to value me despite my suckyness. But, I wanted to be healthy and I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it (not sure what it was) and I have this weird love for challenges so I did it.
I was BAD. So so bad. I was sort of okay at defence because I didn't have to be expected to run and control the ball quite as often and so my chances of failure were slightly less, but mostly I was bad. I couldn't control the ball for more than a couple steps and I got so exhausted from running after 5 minutes and it was embarrassing. But, they needed me for their girl ratio...so I kept going.
Each week I made tiny improvements. I could run for longer. I could hold onto the ball as I ran up the field for like 6 steps! I started being able to get the ball away from the other team. I vaguely started to comprehend 'offside'. Slowly I started to enjoy myself, and started looking forward to my turn on the field. Suddenly, being a third of the girl ratio that always required 2 girls on the field didn't seem so exhausting. I could occasionally play forward and not fail miserably. It was pretty fun. Finally the last game came around and I was determined. I had seen myself improve all season. Maybe others couldn't see the little steps that I had made, but I knew that each game I moved a tiny notch up in my abilities. I was at the end of the season and I had nothing to lose and all I wanted to do was score a goal. There had barely been one time the entire season that I had sent the ball remotely close to the net but this game I was determined to change that. So I played as hard as I could, I subbed on for the forwards, I watched closely...and then...it happened. I don't remember who passed it or how I kicked the ball but I do remember the field and where I was standing and the fact that I scored! I actually didn't celebrate immediately because I didn't want to embarrass myself if it didn't actually happen...but it did! I played a tiny little part in helping us win the game and our overall division that season.
I think about that summer often because, looking back, I can see the natural progression. When you learn something new, you suck and then you get better and it's great. But I usually forget that before I start some other new thing. That's the terrifying stage. When I am considering doing something new and challenging, the fear seizes my chest and twists my stomach and I just want to say, "okay never mind!". I want to throw in the towel before I even start, I'm so convinced at my certain failure. The thing is: it's highly probable that I'm right, I will fail. The other thing is: failure shouldn't be the thing that makes me quit. Sometimes I just need to put things in perspective ahead of time. What's the worse that could happen? Oh I could fall in the mud while trying to kick the ball? That's funny. Try not to fall next time. I could promote a product that no one ended up wanting? Welp, go back to the drawing board and create something else. I could let a whole bunch of people down? Yeek..that one IS tough, but they'll probably get over it and the people that are closest to you still love you a lot.
I don't ever want to not do something because I am afraid of failing. I can sense this tendency in myself, to stop myself before I ever try something because I'm afraid of the failure. But I'm tired of the fear of failure running the show in my brain. That is not how I want to live my life! I want to be bold! I want the ability to laugh at my own screw ups and to move forward! I want to be able to pick up my own failure, take a good hard look at it, and then let it lie as I take another step into adventure.
So here are the things I have been wanting to try but haven't yet due to fear. You can challenge me to see if I'm doing them...
- Sketching more often
- Joining a rec league or fitness class
- Bringing baked goods to a neighbour on our street (in particular the ones who basically curate the Secret Garden. I want to see what they grow!)