Shaking a cloud


Sometimes, I’ll be bopping along, doing my thing, and suddenly, out of nowhere, I’ll remember something that bothered me, and then be unable to shake a feeling of unease. So be prepared, I’m about to mull over a chapeter of my painful athletic history.

I really love sports, and I’m glad I’ve played sports my whole life, but they’ve kind of messed me up, mostly because I’m not very good at them. It’s extremely frustrating, because I work hard, and I want to be good, but I manage to improve fitness, but lag behind with skills. As far as I can tell at least. Today I’m mulling over rowing, and the damage done to my self-esteem while on my college crew team. I loved crew. Seriously! I loved it. My friends on the team were, and are amazing people, and I love them, and I loved the workouts, and the smugness that comes with waking up in the early morning, and the naps, and how awesome breakfast tastes when you’ve been out on the water. I loved being on the water! It was beautiful, and special, and different from anything I had experienced to that point. The problem was, or I guess a problem was, that I couldn’t quite find my place on the team. I wasn’t good enough to be good, but I wasn’t bad enough to accept that I was bad. My coaches fully accepted that I was bad though, and so I spent a lot of time out of the boat, even though the key to improving is being in the boat. I’m not a coach, but it didn’t make a ton of sense to me, unless I accepted that they simply didn’t care about whether I improved or not, because I’m 5’4″ (and most of that is torso), and I joined the team as a junior, so I wasn’t a good investment of resources anyway, and I refused to accept that. I hate it when people don’t expect a lot from me, because I expect a lot from myself. So I struggled, and I complained a lot, and there were tears, and I thought a lot about quitting, but didn’t, because when I thought about it, I loved crew. One of the things that is so awkward (for me) about being on a team is that everyone wants a spot, and if you have one then someone else is out in the cold, and so you have to really deserve it, and it was hard to know if I did or not. I worked hard, and I could see my numbers on the wall (erg times, weights, etc), and they were fine, but my coaches didn’t agree with me, and so getting in the boat was a constant battle. I was asked on multiple occasions if I thought I belonged in the boat, who I should replace, and you can’t answer a question like that. I felt like I was forced to choose between my friends and rowing, and it was pretty miserable at time, especially when I did feel more qualified than my friends.

Things reached an all-time low towards the end of my senior year. My classes were killing me, and I had to pick up an extra credit by doing sets for the school musical (which was totally awesome, and the best, most sterling silver lining ever, because I got to get to know an awesome friend way better, met some really lovely people, and got to gain some fun new experience), which meant staying up late and then going to practice on less sleep than I needed, and from practice going to Organic Chem, which looked like it was going to be the first class I ever failed (I didn’t though, I passed). So I was under a lot of pressure. And that’s when I lost my seat to one of my best friends on the team. Oh there was drama. And nasty rumors, and low blows on both sides. We got past it, but it was such a rough way to end the season, and even after I got my seat back, things were tainted after that, and when my boat lost our last regatta I couldn’t help wondering if it was my fault.

I don’t know what the moral of this story is. I remember talking to one of my crew buddies before commencement, and she said she hoped I would still remember the good times, and think back on crew as a good part of my college experience, and I think I do. Mostly. Somewhat. I’ve really missed being on a team since I’ve been out of school, but when I think about it, I’m not sure I’m cut out for team sports. I’ve thought about joining rowing clubs, or rugby teams, but I don’t know if it’s actually a good idea. I wonder if I should just do individual things, like running, (or sculling, because I don’t want to give up rowing entirely, forever) instead. The inspiration for this post was remembering something sort of hurtful that I overheard my coach say, and while I do think that the coaching was good because our boats moved fast, I also think it was overly harsh, and kind of manipulative. I’ve always had challenging relationships with coaches though, and that’s about me, and not them- I can’t be easy to coach. So I don’t know. Sports are presumably different outside of college, but maybe I should close that chapter of my life, and be a fit person without being sporty.

Now here’s the cloud-shaking part:

I scheduled my first mandolin lesson for Tuesday evening, and I’m super pumped.

I have my cheese making class this weekend!

Um…I don’t know, other positive things? I actually feel way better about life after writing all that out, so that’s good. I’ve been kind of out of sorts lately, but I’m getting over it. I’m plugging away at applications and personal statements, and I feel good.



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