I tried fruitlessly for a while to keep my almost-two-year-old daughter off of her four-year-old brother's soccer field, but the tantrums were getting embarrassing and nobody seems to mind her out there anyway.
So now I let her run.
Not to brag, but I think she's a strong candidate for MVP, even though she's the only one without a jersey. She's rather spirited.
Recently, Husband and I sat in the grass by the sidelines, wondering if sporting events will comprise a large part of our family's future.
"It's in their genes," I said, referring to athleticism.
Husband, who went to college on a pitching scholarship and who literally talks in his sleep about being "unstoppable" on the basketball court, said, "yeah, but I'll be just as happy going to piano concerts or theater performances if they're not into sports. If they aren't interested in baseball or basketball, I don't want to force it."
"I was talking about MY genes, too," I said, hyper-suspicious that he doesn't appreciate the raw athleticism that I have bequeethed our children through my half of their gene soup. "I was an athlete too, you know."
"You ARE an athlete," he said.
The statement both puffed my chest and put me on the hunt for any traces of sarcasm or condescension. I found neither.
"You have the strength, the passion, the speed, the hand-eye coordination," he said. "You would have been a GREAT athlete if you didn't try to swing for the fences all the time. Your head got in your way."
I couldn't take insult from this because I knew it to be true. Plus, I was still puffy-chested knowing he sees me as an athlete, so I was willing to let the caveat slide.
The caveat about my head getting in the way? This is not news to me. I've been hearing it ever since I was a pre-teen in sliding shorts, swinging the biggest bat on the softball field. I'd get a home run or I'd strike out.
As a softball player, usually I'd strike out. But I've never had any intention of altering my approach.
My dad, our bless-his-heart third base coach, would tell me, "Just get on base." But I didn't want to "just" get on base. I wanted to "tear the cover off that ball," which was his other signature coaching advice, and the one that I "knew" would make him proudest of me.
I knew I had the potential for the home run, so I wanted a grand slam or I wanted nothing at all. I wanted to knock it out of the park, and if not, I wanted to be able to go to sleep that night knowing that I tried to be ALL that I could be.
In volleyball: my serves were aces or they were in the net. In soccer: I was captain and leading scorer or I was hanging up my cleats for yearbook. In school: I was getting A's or…well, I guess my attitude in school was "'A' or DIE," which thankfully turned out okay-ish, if you don't count all the mental breakdowns.
But to be a *great* athlete, you need to get on base. You need to be able to stay in the game, or you are not a *great* athlete at all.
People think it takes guts to stand in front of a crowd and strike out. They think it takes courage to stand in the middle of a full high school gymnasium and serve a ball into the net.
They are right. That does require a certain amount of cajones. And for the majority of people--people who like to play things "safe" by hiding in mediocrity--"swinging for the fences" is an awesome stretch goal, because it puts them in a position where they COULD fail miserably. That's a great growth goal that I would both encourage and cheer. For some people.
But not for me.
For me, the land of extremes IS my comfort zone. When the cards fall, I am either the most talented person in the world (and therefore "worthy" of love) or I appear to be the most courageous in the world (and again am "worthy.")
It is safe here.
For me, it's the base hits that scare me. It's the volleyball serves that land in play which freak me out.
I am afraid of being unremarkable.
And after 32.45 years of living this way, I am only realizing it as I type this sentence.
The word "perfectionist" makes my skin crawl (because it seems to imply that we think we are "perfect" or "better than" other people, which couldn't be further from the truth), but I would bet that most quote-on-quote "perfectionists" could identify with the fear of a base hit.
Any psychologist worth his copay will tell you that perfectionism is a hiding place, as much as any addiction--like drugs or alcohol or gambling. Perfectionism is a way of coping with the world and of the fear that our essence--our CORE--the purest form of who we are--is not enough to warrant love.
The problem is that how we do everything is how we do anything, and this sporting philosophy, if you can believe it, still isn't serving me today. It affects me as a mom, as a wife, as a friend, as a business person.
Do you know the famous quote about insanity? I've been thinking about it a lot over the past couple of days, mostly because I overheard someone f*ck it up royally and condescendingly, which was too ironic to leave my head. ("You know the definition of stupidity?" he said jerk-ticiously. "It's doing the same thing over and over and getting different results.")
ACTUALLY, the definition of INSANITY is doing the same thing over and over and EXPECTING different results, but I'm sure that man's condescension comes from the fact that he, too, is insecure, so I send him love.
I don't want to be insane. Swinging for the fences is hurting me more than it is serving me, and it has been my whole life. So I think it's time to switch up my game plan.
As a blogger, I am afraid to lose readers by writing mediocre posts. I am afraid people will unsubscribe if I post too often, or too boringly, or if I write about my photography, in case my photography is not what originally drew you to my blog. If I don't think a post has the potential to go viral, I don't want to post at all.
Frankly, this is serving no one. Sometimes I over-tweak posts to the point where I read them three months later and I think, "huh?" I have no fewer than 100 half-written posts that probably could have helped people over the last year, but they never made it to the blog because they weren't "just right."
And frankly, I don't even have time for all the tweaking.
If I'm going to stay in the game, I need to learn to bunt.
So I think my personal work this week, this month, and most likely this lifetime, is to bunt. If I bunt on the blog and people unsubscribe, this is a good thing. It is the universe's way of helping me filter down to "my people" and of helping those unsubscribers find someone whose writing does speak to them more.
I will trust that if I feel inspired to write something, this is the universe's way of telling me that somebody needs to hear it.
Maybe, like today, that somebody is me.
And that somebody named Me is more than enough.
My new mantra: "Bunt."
Is there an area of your life where you are afraid to bunt right now? Or maybe the opposite? Maybe your work is in trying to swing for the fences?
Tell me about it!
Shine on, loves. xoxoxo