Mind Games

Throughout my athletic career, I’ve struggled with comparing myself to others. Not only has it affected my performance in sports, but it has affected many other aspects of my life. From not raising my hand in class to ask for help because I’m scared people will think I’m dumb or make fun of me, to quitting a swim team because I thought my teammates judged me and thought of me differently because I was the slowest on the team. But in reality, there were at least ten other of my classmates who were just as confused as I was, and the good people on that swim team liked me because I tried and was kind, and the people who treated me differently because I was the slowest weren’t worth my time anyway.

But still, my fear of being judged has had me in chains for years and I still fight it every day.

Yes, I have been viewed differently by people when my athletic abilities were less than theirs, but I’ve come to the realization that the true athletes are ones who accept and help others succeed.

Dear anyone who needs to hear it: We all start somewhere. We all have our insecurities. Not everyone has the same strengths as others. Comparing yourself to others will only bring you down. The most important thing is to focus on your journey.

Whether you run a 15 minute mile or a 5 minute mile. Whether you can bench 40 pounds or 400 pounds. Whether you swim a 1:40 for a hundred or a :40 for a hundred. The point is you are trying, and that’s what matters.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a pro athlete and I am not saying I am in any way, but I have recognized one of the main things that holds me back, and I don’t think I am the only one.

Please know that where ever you are in your athletic journey, don’t look at what others have accomplished, look at the improvement you’ve made because that’s what matters.

I don’t care how talented an athlete may be. If they judge or make someone feel bad because of their abilities, all of my previous respect would be gone. Sportsmanship is building one another up, not tearing each other down. A team is a supportive group of people, not enemies. Athletics is a field meant to empower, inspire, and be available to all people, not just the pros.

If you share this same anxiety as I do, please know that it is your journey that matters and the people worthwhile will support you no matter your skill and ability.

“Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter”- Doctor Seuss

Photo via huffpost.com

Black Mamba

While I was enjoying the beautiful weather of Ojai this morning, I got a text from my friends that made my heart drop, “Kobe Bryant was found dead with his daughter after the helicopter crash.” When I got this text, I thought it was some kind of joke or rumor that some people were spreading, and after checking all types of social media, I realized that it was true. I just couldn’t admit that my all-time favorite basketball player would leave us like this. There have been a few tragic events like this, but Kobe’s death just hit different to me. Kobe Bryant was the first player that I knew from basketball, and while me and my friends were playing basketball, I remember shouting “Kobe!” when I took the shot. He was a great mentor for a lot of people including me in and out of the court. Kobe Bryant might be gone in real life, but he will always have a special place in our hearts.

Rest in peace, Kobe Bryant.

PC: Basketball network

Rekindled

I ran 17 laps over the course of two hours, I was winded, but hardly exhausted. These were the days I lived for. I was in first grade when I first participated in the Terry Fox run, an annual international charity track event meant to raise funds for cancer research in honor of Canadian hero, Terry Fox. This event is where I believe my relationship with sports or athletics in general really began, racing my friends across the long stretches of the track until we collapsed on the grassy ditch to catch our breath, just to do it again countless times.
 
For the next three years, my passion for sports grew even further. At school I participated in badminton, dodgeball, fitness, swimming, everything they had to offer. I was by no means a stellar student-athlete; outside of school my childhood consisted of next to no physical activity, having busy parents, no siblings, and neighbors I was unfamiliar with, my outdoor activities consisted solely of digging holes in the backyard. All of that aside, I still loved physical activity, making sure to fill my recess with as much tag and soccer as I possibly could.
 
In fourth grade, however, I found that my affinity to athletics had shifted towards food instead, and as I slowly gained an appreciation for eating, I slowly lost interest and ability to participate in sports. I began an exponential weight gain that lasted, thankfully, only five years, but took a tremendous toll on my body. At my peak in seventh grade, I would strain myself climbing the stairs, I’d wear shirts two sizes too big to conceal everything I could, and I was eating a family-sized bag of chips every day. So to sum things up, things weren’t looking too hot for me. In those five years, my relationship with athletics had become estranged and I intentionally belittled sports as primitive to somehow justify to myself my current condition. However, being the aspiring hypocrite that I was, I still tried desperately to get onto every sports team offered at my school, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, whatever team sport that would have me, but unsurprisingly, every time, I was nowhere to be seen on the lists.
 
Even after I got my weight problem under control and ended up going too far in the other direction I found the same issues with sports. I had no strength, no energy, no agility to participate in any activity apart from golf, but I was awful at golf so that was out of the question for me anyway. In the last four years, I’m proud to say I’ve finally gotten my weight under control, I no longer count every calorie that enters my body out of fear of losing control again. I know what went wrong and how to avoid those same mistakes.
 
Basketball is where I’ve been able to express this change the most. My freshman year I had 12 minutes of playing time the entire season. I can’t blame my coach for any of that, I was 6’4 inches of skin and bone, I didn’t have the strength to shoot a basketball from the free-throw line, and I could jump maybe a foot off the ground. The past few years, I’ve grown taller and stronger and I’ve trained relentlessly. I’m by no means the MVP I had hoped I would be. But now being one of the main contributors to my basketball team after my tenuous past with sports, I can finally look back and feel proud about my athletic ability, something that once meant so much to me, for the first time in nearly 10 years.

wanna fight

“Wanna fight” is the phrase I often use recently.

When some people make fun of me, I will say that. When I make fun of some other people, I will say that. When I don’t know what to say, I will still say that.

I don’t even know where I got this phrase from, how it got into my mind, or why I keep saying it.

PC: media.makeameme.org

After lunch today, I said it to one of my silly friends.

That was when I got the retribution for saying this violent phrase.

“I never heard you say this when you were playing volleyball against other teams.” My former volleyball coach said this to me, when he overheard me.

Hmmm that’s kind of true, I am not really a sports person since the day I was born. I am trying to play sports good, but somehow no matter how hard I tried I am just not good as the others. Alright, I guess I just don’t have talent in it.

State Sanctioned Violence

All day like, seventeen-year-old lungs rip against heaving chests, drained of oxygen instead filled with battery acid.

All night like, polyester raging against its seams, raging against boys, struggling against muscles, pads, and hearts all swollen, all wet with sweat.

With my boys like, helmets too tight to contain caffeine, concussions, and memories.

With my pads like, misshapen boys ill suited for football competing not only against another team but with themselves.

We hit the field like, a week of repeated beat downs a month of lows and season of confused agony.

Dropping bodies like, a body careens toward another without hesitation, without fear or knowledge of how it will collide with the other.

All day, he swells proud of his grit.

All night, he overflows with passion.

With my boys, he demands I follow.

All day, like a young stallion on a single stake.

With my boys, like the veins on his flank, roaring, like the muscles in his hock, screaming: raw power unfathomable in its adolescent intensity.

All day, he drives his head into his helmet and charges back onto the field.

Photo credit: SB Nation

nah

sometimes, we all need to do something that we don’t like at all.

It’s Monday afternoon right now, I’m lying on the carpet in my room alone. 

The LEAP that I used to like but not anymore, started about 10 minutes ago. I should be there, but I don’t really want to move. Due to my old commitments, I force myself to get up and walk there.

And then, I have to come back to my room to change into sports dress, and then go to sports that I don’t like at all. 

Right after that, I need to run back to my room and take a quick shower and get dressed up in a rush. Then go up to the cafeteria to set up for the dress dinner. Yeah, right, a dinner that I don’t want to go at all.

Then it will be study hall, and I have to complete a bunch of assignments that I don’t want to do at all. But guess what, I have to finish all of them tonight since they are due tomorrow.

Why I have to do all of these things that I don’t even like at all? I guess this is how life should be.

photo credit: slowrobot.com

My Time

I broke my foot in October
I thought the world would come to a halt
But only mine did
Everything I had worked for, my season, my future, my passion
It all escaped me
I’d failed
I got the news in November
It was supposed to be my year
I promised it would be my year
I fought for a chance and guaranteed results
And was left to face the consequences
I was left behind
By December I was finished
As selfish as it sounds
It hurt that the world didn’t end like it did for me
I was hurting but the globe kept spinning
Practices continued on without me
Games were played
Fun was had
I was left on the stilts that took me nowhere
In January frustration had become my norm
The jokes didn’t bounce off like they used to
I was consumed by the mistakes that brought me here
I couldn’t forget the memories I never got to make
The apologies I made that could never make my team understand
February is when I finally lost the crutches
But mentally I was still on them
I was afraid to go back to playing
The courts promised me nothing but remorse
My recovery meant getting over my injury
But I wasn’t prepared for the strength it required
In March I was back on my feet
I was playing again
My game was coming back
But it didn’t matter anymore
I was making shots, playing with my team
But it didn’t feet right
I had failed them, and they knew it too

Credit: images.unsplash.com

 

My Future

I’m really confused about how my life is going to go in the future. I know what I want to, I’m just not sure how I’m going to do it.

My plan was to go either UCSB, Stanford, USC, or a college in Australia to study Marine Biology and/ or Environmental Science. I would then go to law school and become an environmental lawyer. At college, I would swim and play water polo.

Well, now I’m really in to running. I love triathlons too. I know I’m going to play sports in college, but which ones?

Recently I’ve been thinking about become a humane officer. It pains me to know that so many animals are suffering and abused. I want to dedicate my life to stopping the cruelty that takes place everyday.  I want to do this, but there are some issues.

A humane officer makes 32,000 dollars annually. I don’t have millions of dollars in family money, I don’t have a billion dollars in my bank account, and I want to stay in California. I’m afraid 32,000 dollars would not be enough to have a home, a car, and eventually kids.

So, my plan is now to stick with being an environmental lawyer. I still really want to be a humane officer though…

Again, on the topic of money, I realized that I’m not going to have enough money to go to any of the colleges I want to go to. I could go to junior college. It would save a lot of money and I can save up for my next two years at a university.

I also want to take a gap year and go to the Peace Corps…

Will I go straight to a four year school? I wonder where I’m going to live after college? What college am I going to go to? What law school will I go to? Will I still want to be a lawyer, or will my opinions change? What sports will I play? Will I have a boyfriend? Will I get married? Am I going to have kids? When will I retire? Will I become a humane officer?

I don’t know, honestly. But maybe in thirty years, I’ll come back to this post and reflect on everything I did or didn’t do.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Respect the road.

There is a road that I run all the time.

Since I’m currently training by myself, I get to decide where I run. I avoid this road as much as possible. But during cross country season, when I’m at the mercy of my coaches, most of our workouts involve the road in some way.

Going down is smooth sailing. Going up is hell.

photo credit: nelseverydaypainting.blogspot.com

The road is more like a hill, a giant, mile-plus long hill. It’s on a constant incline and, as you get closer to the top, it gets steeper.

At first, I absolutely loathed this road.

I always hated it in the beginning, because it turned even my best runs turn into something that made me feel like I was putting myself through torture.

The road is sometimes unforgiving. The more you climb, the weaker your legs feel, the more your lungs burn, the more you feel like your brain is about to explode.

I used to fight it. Each day, I felt like I was preparing for this great battle, in which only one victor would prevail: me or the hill.

But, eventually, I started to realize that it wasn’t really a battle of physicality; it was more so a battle of wit. I learned to work with the road instead of against it and things started to make more sense.

I learned to take advantage of even the tiniest bit of downhill, to take the straightest line possible. I started to read the road, to take note of how it felt when I ran a certain way.

To this day, I still don’t like running it. But, I’ve learned how to do it properly.

The road used to be some foreign, intimidating beast that I thought I would never be able to understand. Now, I realize that it was really just an old, wise mentor for me, my very own Mr. Miyagi. 

Last night, I was headed up the road on the bus and, as I looked out the window, I knew exactly what point we were at solely based on the glimpse I caught of the tops of the oak trees. It made me smile, seeing how far I’ve come.

The same miles of curving pavement that used to seem endless to me are now ingrained into my memory, including details down to which tree is positioned where on each corner.

The countless days of practice, all of the sweat-soaked t-shirts and aching muscles really did pay off, in so many more ways than for just my running.

If only I knew back then just how much I would come to understand the road and how much it would come to understand about me.

I wouldn’t have believed it three years ago.

Satisfied

One of the most satisfying things for me as a horseback rider is when I make a breakthrough with the horse I’m riding.

Over the past four years, I’ve constantly ridden the same horse. Though I would never give up riding that horse until graduation comes, there wasn’t that much I could continue learning on him. One, he was too perfect of a horse and, two, I already knew every little aid, tick, and everything else there was to know about him, good and bad.

Photo Credit: wildopenpets.com

But, in November, 2018, I took up the opportunity to ride a second horse, one completely opposite from my slow and steady, older horse I’ve been riding all throughout high school.

And riding him has been a pain, but also I’ve become such a better rider in the process learning to ride a horse completely different.

There were days when I’d get off with sore muscles and complete frustration and dissatisfaction. Days when I had to fight with him just to get him to walk.

Last Saturday, however, I had a breakthrough. Though there were the moments when I had to fight him through the walk, there were only two of them versus ten or twenty. It was the best ride I ever had on him. I got him to easily canter from a halt, canter over ground poles, and do most of those things without any protest.

I hope I’m not jinxing my improvement with him by writing this, but I hope all the future rides are just as successful as this one or else I’ll just keep learning.