Canada, june 2016
After lounging around due to a shoulder injury, making solid use of our Netflix subscription for the past week and a half, I made a last minute decision to fly to Victoria and play in the tournament being held there - last minute meaning hitting for 20 minutes on Friday to test my shoulder out, and then booking my hotel and flight for Saturday. I learned a few important lessons from this decision.
You're not always going to be ready to compete, but this shouldn't necessarily stop you from trying. My parents disagreed with my decision to go, especially after the tournament didn't go as well as I had hoped. However, it was an opportunity, and sometimes you have to take these opportunities when they come along, and not just when they appear and you feel 110% prepared. Did I want to crack every single one of my racquets because of the result and how I feel I played? Of course. (I didn't; I don't have enough racquets for that anymore...) But the truth is that you're not always going to feel your best, and it's important to learn how to at least compete under circumstances like that.
I also learned that sometimes you just have to cut yourself some slack. After my match, I texted my mom, my coach, and a friend saying that I was quitting; throwing in the towel, hanging up the saddle, putting on my big girl shoes and getting a real job. Watch out, world. I was furious at myself for losing. More importantly, I was furious at myself for how I had played. It drove me insane knowing how much better I could play. I didn't care that I had been keeping the couch warm for the past week and a half; I knew what my level could be, and I knew what my level during that match was like. No one wants to blame things on injuries, but after calming down a bit, I realized that it was okay that I hadn't played my best. It was true; I hadn't been training, and I wasn't prepared for the tournament. I knew that going in, and as much as I would have liked to come out and be on fire, I wasn't. And sometimes, that's just how things are.
Finally, I learned to at least try and enjoy the process. What 23-year-old can say they're traveling the world playing a sport? Probably not many of them. I was staying with an amazing, eccentric Canadian family on the highest top of a hill on a beautiful island. These complete strangers had literally adopted me as part of their family. When I first arrived, my 17-year-old Canadian brother picked me up in a full suit, and I got a gigantic hug from my new pot-smoking (genuine medical) dad with a "welcome home" comment when we arrived at the house. As a somewhat non-friendly New Yorker who instinctively avoids close physical contact with the vast majority of the human race, all that love was a bit overwhelming, but hey - it's Canada. I ate all of my meals with them (not sure how they still have anything left in the kitchen), helped with the chores (I don't even do that at home....sorry Dad) and even drove their pickup truck to my matches. I've made friendships along this journey that are quirky, exciting and incredible, and I've seen parts of the world that many will only read about. If you can't enjoy the process - the good and the bad - you're never going to be truly successful.
Former Hawkeye now playing tennis professionally; Journalism major.