Screw What’s At Stake — You Need To Play To Win

It was the moment I trained for since I was twelve. The state finals. Me versus my arch nemesis. A packed field house of 5,000 watching our every move.

The chance to redeem myself for last year’s loss was finally mine.

I was scared shitless.

Want me to spoil it for you?

I didn’t win.

I was, however, winning with thirty seconds left in the match. Then he did a move I’ve never seen before and haven’t seen since. That’s because I haven’t watched the match at any point in the last six years.

It still hurts that bad.

We were wrestling. In my opinion it’s the toughest sport there is — I believe that because I’ve played basically every sport in the book.

I was winning though, right? Tons of my friends and coaches told me it was some sort of crazy black swan event and that I was controlling the match the entire time.

You know what the problem was, though?

I wasn’t wrestling to win. I was wrestling not to lose.

Not once in the entire six-minute match was I enjoying myself. I had my heart in my throat the entire freaking time. We probably put half the stadium to sleep.

That wasn’t the last time I’d face him, though. We went on to wrestle at the exact same college against all odds. One day we practiced with each other and I handled him pretty well.

It wasn’t even close.

I probably beat him in 75 percent of the positions we got into.

I realized something that day.

I could’ve put that state finals match away pretty easily if I wanted to. I could’ve really put some points on the board and let the pressure of the platform crush my opponent.

I could’ve put on a show. I could’ve had one of the most entertaining state finals matches of that year, but I didn’t because I was so scared to lose.

Do yourself a favor and don’t be that way.

I regret how I wrestled that match to this day. The truth is I wouldn’t have regretted anything if I lost. How the fuck could I? If I lost then that would mean he was better than me. Nothing to be ashamed of.

The only thing you’ll truly regret is the way you went about something, not the outcome.

So screw what’s at stake. Go out there and ball. Go out there and take life by the throat. Be yourself. Don’t be scared. Fail, fail, and fail.

You won’t regret failing.

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