I was in PE with my best friend, Chelcie, goofing around during free time when she says to me, “I’m thinking of trying out for volleyball, do you want to try out with me?” That question changed the entire trajectory of my life. I had never played sports before, no little league tee-ball or soccer. I was in gymnastics for a couple months when I was 6 years old, but that was the extent of my athletic experience. Chelcie and I tried out for the 6th and 7th grade girls’ volleyball team and were the only two 6th graders to make the team.
Fast-forward six years to a high school tournament where a coach approached me and asked why I wasn’t playing in college. Apparently she had talked to my coach about me and found out that I had decided to discontinue my volleyball career after high school. I told her I didn’t think any college coach wanted a five-foot tall volleyball player.
I knew I was a decent high school player, but I didn’t feel like I was good enough to play college volleyball. She told me I should at least consider contacting the community colleges nearby. So I did, and lo and behold, I got a tryout from the coach at a local community college! After the tryout, the coach contacted me and offered me a spot on the team. I was in disbelief and ecstatically took the offer. I felt good enough again.
I went to every summer practice and workout, I was early everyday, I was 100 percent committed, but when the season started, I was disappointed to find out that I was just a backup player. I saw very little court time and no matter how hard I worked or how well I performed in practice, I was always the backup. I thought it was because I was a freshman and the other player was a sophomore, so I just put in the work and thought, “Next year will be my year, I’ll just push through until next season.”
Again I never missed practice, I was at every summer workout, every sand session, everything. The season started and boom, second string, again. This time, to a freshman. I felt devastated. Defeated. Broken. Not good enough.
I asked my coach what I could do to get more playing time and he said do this better. So I did. I had a killer week of practice and I would be so pumped for the game only to still not hear my number being called for the starting lineup. I began to feel resentment towards my coach. My teammates tried to encourage me but it was tough. I wanted to quit so many times, I mean, they were doing just fine without me, it wasn’t as if I was contributing to the team’s success.
Then came the game of Sophomore night. I thought, even if tonight was the only night I get to start on the court, I will be content. My coach read the lineup; all the sophomores on the team were mentioned, except for me. My coach still, even on my night, started the freshman before me and played all the other sophomores. I knew it was personal, I knew it was on purpose. I pouted, I was upset. I felt like all the efforts I had given my coach were in vain. My coach grabbed my arm and said, “Fix your attitude, I’m just going to see how the first game goes.”
It was at that very moment, I finally realized, it didn’t matter how much effort I gave, I could never be good enough for my coach. It was a painful reality, but my realization set me free from the anxiety and oppression that hung over me for the past two years. I was trying to win his favor and I thought working my hardest and being as close to perfect as I could get would earn his approval. I finally realized I could never do that. Why not? To this day, I still don’t know, but I now have peace knowing that sometimes in life, no matter how hard I try, I cannot please everyone.
I know I gave it my all when I played in college. Even though I resented my coach, I still went and played with all my heart because I was playing for my teammates. I knew there was nothing more I could give, and even though it hurts to think back to my darkest days of college volleyball, I am grateful for the freedom I found though it and the person I am today because of that experience.
I made lifelong friends with my teammates, I learned the importance of sacrifice, and I became stronger physically, mentally and emotionally. I learned how to coach with empathy and I came to the realization that everyone has insecurities and hurts. We’ve all felt like we haven’t been good enough for something or someone.
What keeps me going is knowing that my happiness and self-assurance shouldn’t be dependent on someone else’s view of me. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. If you don’t feel good enough for someone or something, maybe it’s time to reconsider the relationship or the situation.
I find comfort in my dad’s words, he would always say, “Some will, some won’t, so what.” There is so much truth and wisdom in that and I cling to those words whenever I feel insecure or inadequate. Make those words something you live by and watch the freedom and peace fill your mind.