So as Game 3 approached I started to get all nervous again that I was going to make a fool of myself… especially since Game 2 (over 2 weeks ago) was such a disaster (in my mind). We had one bye week and a rain out, so I was well out of practice by this weekend and I didn’t get to the batting cages like I had planned (I went 3 times, but not this last week). Something in my head had me believing that I was only as good as I had practiced. Hmmm maybe there is truth to that. Either way I was on the road to full panic and stress about this game.
Then something rather nice happened on Saturday… I posted a touch of my anxiety out there and I received this mighty encouraging response: “Do your best. Have fun. Make some friends. Did I leave anything out? Oh yea, Don’t get caught if you cheat.” Now after the laughter subsided from believing for a second that I would cheat or even KNOW how to cheat and get away with it in softball; but it was a fine bit of laughter I must tell you.
More importantly I began to psych myself up: remember why we are doing this… the point is to show up… make improvements from last game is all that matters. Then the social self-talk starts: Who cares what the other team thinks? For that matter who cares what the people on YOUR TEAM think? Don’t worry what you look like… as a matter of fact STOP THINKING about what you look like. Focus on the task, get out of your head, don’t try to fix YOU in this moment, just BE in the moment.
So as I was getting my gear all organized and ready I was reminding myself not to worry about the future or the significance of things… JUST DO THE TASK. And NOW I had my friends words in my head to help: Do your best… HAVE FUN!!! Oh yeah, that is part of why we do these things… right? To have fun. And during the game there were moments when I heard his voice in my head, which helped with the focusing… such simple words brought such help.
Now I would be completely dishonest if I did not mention that I DID do a couple of TECHNICAL things to help as well. At the batting cages I worked on my stance, tried a different size bat, and changed how I hit (I am watching the ball all the way to the bat instead of just “FEELING” it… No laughing Heidi.) At the batting cages, I also went at a busier time, which allowed me to than battle the anxiety in my head over doing this in FRONT OF PEOPLE. Now I know that should be a given, but I have realized in my adult life that I kind of short-circuit or melt down when I make mistakes in front of other people. (Yes you can thank my current boss and former co-workers for generating this trauma.)
As I began to imagine what a playing field full of competitors looks like (AND feels like), not to mention all the worst thoughts and judgements people COULD be saying… My mind began to build a mental wall around myself. Words like they don’t matter, I don’t care about them, they are not going to tell me how I am doing, they are not the boss of me, I am in charge of me and my thoughts and my actions, I can and I will and I am going to hit this ball and make it matter and make it count. I am going to contribute, I am not going to let all those words and fears and nonverbals impact me.
I am reminded of something I heard (sorry dont’ remember where or I would give credit), that people who are courageous are not without fear. They still fear all the same things the rest of us do, but they power through it and make the decision to do what is right, above the fear, beyond expectation, and seemingly impossible. It was with a friend’s encouragement that I heard them say “Christina, you are fearless.” But I am not fearless. I am in constant fear either consciously or subconsciously of little things and big things, in the present and in the future. But on this day after completing Game 3 with NO Strikeouts, 2 singles (I almost made it to 3rd running bases on other’s hits), connecting with the ball at EVERY at bat; that I realized:
I am not fearless I am just practicing courage amidst my fears.
That each at bat was about the task, it was about regaining my ability to focus and shut out the world (I use to be a pro at this – acting has a way of demanding that skill), reminding myself of what I practiced (low and slow, watch the ball, bring the bat to the ball, CONNECT), and holding my head high with each accomplishment no matter how small no matter how insignificant to others. In this little mission of change in my life, that I was able to be courageous even though I was fearful.