HUMILITY AND PICKLEBALL
I am a life coach. I am a mindfulness meditation teacher. I have had a lot of experience with positivity mindset and beginner’s mind to name just a few of the tools in my toolbox that I’ve been learning and practicing.
I played my first game of pickleball last week and boy oh boy every single tool I’ve learned and honed flew away with the first ball I hit.
I knew nothing about the game. Didn’t know the rules. Hadn’t watched people play.
I wanted to try it and I’d been putting off the discomfort of this moment of introduction for a couple of months.
I got myself to the courts only by telling myself I was there to observe. Just get the lay of the land. But the people were so nice and pretty soon I was encouraged to put a racket down.
I was terrified.
At the start of the game, I went up to the net and announced to the players that I was a virgin and I’m sorry. I laughed. But inside I felt ashamed before I even started.
I was not good. I remembered just enough from tennis to make it hard to learn the rules specific to pickleball. I stood in the wrong place. Hit the ball too short. Too long. Too wide. Stepped into the kitchen on a volley. And don’t get me started on the scoring! Holy crap! The scoring!
The person in charge saw me struggling and decided to “help” me. And by helping me I mean he put me on the spot and made me score the entire game.
I felt stupid. Inadequate. I laughed but each time he called on me I was crying inside. I just wanted to take myself out of my misery and go home.
When I missed a shot, I cursed. When I lost a point for my team, I murmured harsh words. I was own worst critic somehow thinking that protected me from the judgments of others.
But my teammates were a lot kinder to me than I was to myself. They kept offering me words of solace. They kept saying, “Just have fun.”
I wish I could’ve heard them.
In the end, even with all that negativity, I was proud of myself for showing up and staying through two games. And as I drove home, I took a close look at my behavior and how I could’ve reacted differently.
In hindsight, I thought about the tools I use with clients -
Questioning if my thoughts about what others were thinking about me were true – they weren’t.
Giving myself grace and being kind to myself as I learned a new skill – I had not.
Calming my nervous system enough to relax and enjoy the experience – I wish I had.
AND ALL THIS TO SAY…
WORKING ON OURSELVES IS A PRACTICE.
NO ONE IS PERFECT.
WE ARE ALL HUMAN.
As much as I’ve worked on and continue to work on these skills, I have more to learn. And I’m not ashamed to say it.
I consider that a win.
I celebrate that I braved walking into a community of strangers to explore joining a game I knew nothing about. That, in itself, I deem courageous. I also celebrate that I quickly stopped the flood of judgmental and negative thoughts as soon as I got off the court. So much so, that I called an instructor soon after and joined a beginner’s group to get back out there so I can learn to play and have fun.
I’m in a different place than I was years ago.
Sure, the old parts rear their ugly heads on occasion, but I don’t let them stay for too long. Where the younger me would’ve accepted this behavior as “just who I was”, the new me can feel how toxic they are and decide to be someone different.
The old me would’ve given up. Gone home with my humiliated tail between my legs and spun in stories of inadequacy and shame. And I feel for that version of me. But I don’t want to be that way anymore.
So, I had a moment. AND I quickly saw the value in having that moment, getting real with it, accepting it, and deciding what I was going to do about it next.
Now, I’m looking forward to being a beginner and working on having fun while being really sucky at something.