Hitting a home run was what I had been striving for since I began playing softball. I wanted to do what so many of my teammates seemed to be accomplishing- to rest my eyes upon the perfect pitch, feel the power of my swing as I drive my hands towards the center of the softball, and experience the rush of adrenaline and excitement as I make contact and know, right then and there, that it was going over. That was my one goal throughout my high school softball career- and I failed to achieve it.
I began playing softball when I was 9 years old. I had always been the quiet one on all my teams I played for, but I loved playing nonetheless. During my first few years of playing, I recall being a fairly decent shortstop, and I eventually started pitching. Pitching was something I came to realize that I had a talent for. I wasn’t the fastest, but my accuracy won over every time. Pitching gave me confidence. Batting, on the other hand, was where I struggled. I’m pretty sure I struck out at every bat during my first year of playing. And when I started getting hits, they were slow dribblers to second base that even my grandma could field and make the play to first. Nine-year-old me was very discouraged. But, alas! I continued playing and joined some travel teams, improving tremendously along the way. Then came high school.
I’ll admit, I was very intimidated my freshman year of playing high school ball. I was still very quiet, didn’t talk much to any of the older girls, and was afraid to make any mistake for fear of being judged or ridiculed. In fact, this fear was something I believed held me back over the next four years. I know for a fact that I could have taken more risks when I was in the outfield (I started playing left and right field when I was about 16). I always played it safe, but regardless, I worked hard. Whether I was at practice, a scrimmage, or a game, I always put forth my best effort and, as a result, got incredibly angry with myself if I screwed up. I constantly beat myself up, asking “Why did you just do that?” “You could have done so much better.” “You really suck.” These thoughts ran through my head very often, and I would often come home from practices or games in tears. I am a perfectionist, if that isn’t obvious by now. But despite my shortcomings, my hitting did improve. I started hitting line drives and deep fly balls, many of which my team swore would be over the fence. This turn of events improved my confidence, and I thought to myself, “Hey, you could actually do this.”
Senior year came around. Still no homerun. Meanwhile, a teammate of mine had already hit 4. A FRESHMAN hit one. If a freshman could do it, surely I could! Each game, I got closer and closer to the fence until finally, the ball was literally bouncing off of the fence. I felt the pressure build up as the season was coming to a close, with only the playoffs left. We made it two rounds in before losing on our own field. I felt like I failed. I did not achieve what I wanted to achieve. My senior year did not go according to my plan. And for all you Type A people out there, you know very well how annoying that is. So I cried. I cried because I failed. I cried because that was my last time playing with such a wonderful group of girls. I cried because it was over.
I wish I could say I have no regrets about my high school softball career. I wish I could be pleased with what I DID accomplish instead of focusing on everything I failed to do. As with anything in life, sometimes we fall just short of our goals. Our wishes. Our dreams. This goal may simply bounce off an obstacle, a chain link fence that reminds us that we just aren’t there yet. And this disappointment is something I am still learning to deal with. That sometimes, you have to fail several times before you succeed. And sometimes, you just aren’t given enough time to prove to the world, and to yourself, that you are capable of doing anything you desire. But I will continue to aim high. I will not let that chain link fence make me feel like a failure anymore.