How a Rec Soccer League Is Teaching Me to Love Myself
I quit playing soccer when I was in fifth grade. I said it was my asthma and that I couldn’t handle the shin guards and wool socks. As a diabetic, it was hard to manage my blood sugars too. I had all the excuses. But I quit because I knew I wasn’t going to be the best and I didn’t like that. This pattern continued throughout my school days and into my adulthood. I would only do things that I knew I could do really well. To me, “mediocre” performance was a failure. If it wasn’t the best, it wasn’t success. This particular method of living worked well for me in helping me look really good around other people and also in feeling good about myself. I felt valuable because I was so good at what I was doing, but what it didn’t do is teach me that it’s ok to not be the best at something and it’s ok to be part of a team and not be the star. It perpetuated the lie that my value and worth is tied into my performance. If my performance wasn’t stellar, I wasn’t worth anything.
I honestly didn’t realize this was all going on in my heart and head until my husband asked if I wanted to join a recreation soccer league a couple of weeks ago. They were desperate for female players.
I immediately said “no.”
“I don’t have time for that!”
“Whose going to watch the kids?”
“I haven’t played in years!”
“I don’t have the equipment.”
“I have no ball skills”
“I don’t have time for that…” (yes, I know I already put that...I use this excuse ALOT)
But the main reason I didn’t want to do this is because I was terrified of looking silly and stupid. I was terrified of coming to terms with the fact that this was something I wasn’t the best at. I was terrified of failing.
After I figured out what was really holding me back, I realized that this was something I really had to do for myself if I was going to get over my fear of mediocrity and my fear of failure. I needed to do this to show myself that I was valuable regardless of performance. Regardless of skill. It was time to put my beliefs into practice….literally...practice/scrimmage.
I have missed goals by a mile, I have watched balls come at me and I completely miss the trap or the kick. I have been out-skilled, out-dribbled, and out-run by kids who are 20 years younger than me and men and women who are 20 years older than me. And this is so good for me. So good. I walk off the field huffing and puffing, laughing at my mistakes and asking earnest questions so I can get better for the next game or practice. I rehearse plays with my husband and ask him to share his ideas for how I can do things differently next time. Not because I’m trying to prove something. Because I love learning and improving. I continue to fail over and over, but this has been different for me because I know that my value and my identity is NOT attached to my skills or my performance. I am loved for who I am, not what I can do. In all areas of my life. I just needed a rec. soccer team to show me that.
And I still hate soccer socks and shin guards, but I have to say that my cleats are freaking awesome looking….
This is a great example of how a small choice can make a big difference in your story. I’m not going to change the world by being a mediocre player on a rec. soccer league, but I am changing who I am and how I see myself. To me, that feels pretty monumental. And my boys are seeing me do this work and that’s pretty big too. This also may see like it has nothing to do with art, but it has everything to do with it because I am my art and my art is me. My work is a direct reflection of how I view myself and when I spend time working on my heart and my mind, my artwork expresses that forward movement.
Who knows! There may be soccer cleat patterns and soccer ball patterns starting to appear in my pieces soon!