Lately, I’ve had this recurring image from middle school playing out. It goes something like this: My intramural team makes the championship game. Since it’s gym class, there are no subs, teams are broken down into five players each or and so, I have to actually start and couldn’t be relegated to the bench. Our entire gym period is watching the game, save for the ten of us on the court.
I take my role somewhat seriously, despite being at the beginning of a fledgling tennis career. Fast forward to the game. The other players don’t take me all that seriously on the court, because they don’t have a reason to. Because of this, I end up with about five steals. (Maybe more, I don’t recall.)
Despite all of my tenacious defense, I only took one or two shots in the whole game. Why? Because I passed the ball at every opportunity. I kept thinking there was no way I should the ball in my hands unless it was to pass to someone else. I’d have open fast break opportunities on most of those steals, but I was so nervous to shoot and miss figuring my teammates would hate me that I’d pass the ball to the “more reliable players” instead. Except in this game, those mainstays always came up cold and missed all but one of the scoring opportunities I provided.
I don’t know where this vision came from, since I hadn’t thought about that random game probably since it happened. (I don’t even remember if it was 7th or 8th grade.) I mean, I kept thinking “I should’ve taken more shots.” Even if I missed like I did on the one three pointer I attempted, I just should’ve dribbled, exhibited more confidence and just taken more shots. We couldn’t have done any worse had I done that, since we lost the game anyway.
I never knew it’d be a life lesson, but it seems that’s exactly what it is. I’ve spent the last year doing what I did in the game in varying degrees. Even when I’ve realized it, I’ve failed to really understand what was happening.
This revelation is freeing, but it’s also terrifying, because part of me is really afraid that I don’t know how to shoot. Or that I’ll miss and the team will lose. What that lesson proved is that I’m certain to lose if I don’t do something about it and there’s no shame in going down shooting, even if you don’t always make it.