I played tennis for the first time in years this week. I’ve been telling myself to get back into tennis for a long time now considering my apartment complex has courts but buying a racket cost money and I had no one to play with–aka, I was good at making excuses. When the time came, I almost didn’t go. I walked up to the court, saw the instructor teaching a few other people, panicked, and walked away. For all my strengths, I struggled a lot with quitting as a child. I don’t like being bad at things—who does? I was not graced with the skill to be good at everything I try. If I want to be good at something, I have to be bad at it first–what a concept. I rarely had the patience or dedication to get through this stage when I was younger. Instead, I would ambitiously start something and just as fiercely, quit it. It’s why I have a plethora of childhood hobbies, from horseback riding to archery to Irish step-dancing to ice skating. People are usually impressed at the diversity and then I have to break their heart by adding, “okay, but I was so scared to go into my Irish step-dancing class once that my mom’s boyfriend stood outside with me and we practiced the moves while watching through the window.” I never had the confidence to let myself be bad at something, never cut myself any slack because I was too busy always beating myself up. Of all the apologies I owe, I owe the most to myself–I was so mean to the quiet girl who had a million dreams but was too consumed in her million insecurities.
After deciding I was going to bail on the lesson, I walked halfway down the street and turned myself back around. Okay, I stopped in the middle of the street, pretended to check my phone as some people walked by, and then casually turned around to seem like I knew what I was doing. Of all the not-great things I am today, I am certainly no longer a quitter—unless I’m quitting my no-sweets “diet”.
The lesson was uncomfortable, I was frustrated that everything I learned as a kid was gone and I was having flashbacks to my old instructors telling me not to hit the ball so hard–something, years later, I was still doing. My form was off. I was too stiff. My wrist, which has been bothering me a lot, was bothering me even more. The blisters on my feet were getting brand new blisters. I could feel an anxiety attack brewing. They say life begins outside of your comfort zone, but maybe I could be okay with whatever it’s called inside your comfort zone.
As adults, we rarely put ourselves in painfully uncomfortable situations or do things we know we’re bad at, whereas as kids, it’s the only choice we have. To be a kid is to be uncomfortable and bad–nostalgia just tells us otherwise. I think this makes us too confident at times. However, I also had numerous pitches rejected last week from various publications, so it’s safe to say my confidence level doesn’t need to be taken down at all.
During my hour lesson, I kept focusing on how uncomfortable I was, how afraid I was at being bad, how quickly I felt like a child scared of being made fun of. I don’t have the opportunity to go back in time and assure my younger self she was doing the best she could. That her best was good enough, that eventually, her best would be better. I couldn’t tell my younger self any of this, but I could tell my current self that. With permission to be bad, I found that everything was easier. I was still not good, but I was a little better, and a little better would be good enough.
Good enough that I signed up for more lessons and decided to save up for a racket of my own. If not for me, for the younger me that never let herself be bad.
Recipes I tried
This week I cooked honey-sriracha salmon and sweet chili roasted Brussel sprouts. I have no magical recipe for either, mix the honey and sriracha, put it on the salmon and cook in the oven or a pan. I also ate Megan’s famous “I’m broke this week”bowls, which is rice, beans, peppers, corn, and sometimes meat.
Articles I read
When the rich said no to getting richer., NY Times
How Lithuania dealt with its Soviet statues, The Economist
Louis Sachar, the children’s-book author who introduced me to style, The New Yorker (This is about the author of some of my FAVORITE books growing up, a great profile.)
The first white president, The Atlantic
The new age of Astrology, BuzzFeed
The Ivanka Trump guarantee, NY Times
RainyMood: In this divisive year of 2017, I hope we can all come together and agree that falling asleep to the sound of rain is a universally loved feeling. If you disagree, well, I disagree with you. RainyMood is a browser and an app that – I’m sure you know where this is going – is a rain noise machine. I’m not one to pay for apps, I like to gawk at the $2.99 fee and throw that money into a more expensive, more irresponsible purchase. As I am in a longtime committed relationship with insomnia, I am always on the lookout for ways to break it off (It’s not you, it’s me.) and RainyMood has been helping a lot. You can customize what kind of rain you want to hear, ocean (with waves!), countryside (with crickets!), or a standard rain on the cement. You can also set a timer for it to shut off so your battery doesn’t die in the middle of the night, leaving you without an alarm, and much bigger problems than insomnia. Moral of the story is, I probably wouldn’t pay $2.99 for an app that even the love of my life invented, but I will pay $2.99 for RainyMood.
I have zero plans this weekend, which means I will hopefully give myself some room to relax, breathe, and maybe find time for creative productivity.