Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Not Good Enough
It was time for P.E. class at school, the time of day the little girl dreaded the most. Quiet, shy, and basically withdrawn from most every student in the entire school, except for two other 6th graders, she never told anyone how much she loathed having to go to the gym every afternoon, not even her parents. But being the obedient child she had always been, she never balked when the teacher announced P.E. time. She would go to the girls bathroom, change into her modest culottes and tennis shoes with the rest of the girls from the Christian school, and bravely walk into the gym.
Some days she was lucky, when the teacher would instruct them to go out into the football field and run laps, something she could do on her own, with no one else watching or criticizing. Other days the teacher would not be available for awhile and they would all be instructed to go into the gym and do some form of physical activity, where groups would usually form and she would be left alone to walk around the gym with no other distraction from her quiet thoughts. She liked those days.
But today was not such a day.
The teacher announced "volleyball", and teams were formed. As always, she was the last standing to be picked. How she hated standing there every time there was a game where teams had to be formed. She had to go to the side lacking a player, and it immediately began... the looks, the rolled eyes, the huffs and sighs. How she hated P.E. time.
She took her place where she was told to stand, and the game began. Stomach already in knots, heart racing, she tried her best to remain calm and just get through the game. One more game. "You can do this", she would tell herself inwardly. "Just watch the ball and try to hit it." "It's just you and the ball, no one else. It's only a game."
The ball was served from the opposing team, and as if it searched her out willfully, it came straight over the net directly to her. She attempted to hit it. She missed. Thus started the game with frazzled nerves and irritated teammates.
The game progressed, and points were scored on each side. They managed to knock her out of the way when the ball came too close to her. They grumbled and complained whenever she tried and missed. And then it was her turn to serve. The game was close, her team was losing by only a point. "Oh, man... come on!", she heard an older teen girl say. "Get it over with.", another said. "We're gonna lose", echoed another. She swallowed hard, closed her eyes briefly, held out the ball, and hit it with all her might. She watched in silence as it veer off to the far right. Protests and sneering remarks came from both sides, some laughed, some whispered to others or under their breath. She couldn't take it any longer. She didn't say a word as the tears fell from her young face. She simply turned and walked away.
That was the last volleyball game she would ever play.
That little girl was me.
I'm not sure why that memory occurred to me today. It came from nowhere, just out of the blue. I haven't ever shared that memory with anyone, or ever explained why I like to watch volleyball but never play. My senior year of high school, just having moved back to the area I had been away from for 4 years, I was given the job of keeping the score book for the Lady Warriors. I went to each game, even attended every practice, and cheered them on with as much enthusiasm as the coach. I loved being able to be apart, even if it meant sitting on the sidelines. Watching those girls play so hard and win most games they played was a true joy. But being in that same gym again brought back a few haunting memories every now and then. Those old feelings of shame, of not being good enough, of never being picked on a team, of nervousness and dread, they would creep up every once in awhile. But by that time I was a pro when it came to swallowing down unwanted feelings and hiding behind a smile. Besides, what did it matter? I was just a little girl. It was all so silly. Just a part of growing up.
Even now I feel so embarrassed just thinking about it. But looking back to that senior year, and remembering the 6th grade and how it impacted my life, I have come to realize the importance of talking things through with a friend. Yes, it may be seemingly unimportant or even utter nonsense, but anytime feelings of self-loathing, or feelings that drastically effect one's sense of self worth are involved, I have found out the hard way it is very important to try to talk it out. Because speaking your mind, especially about how you see yourself, is a way to overcome those feelings. Keeping things bottled up inside for half your life can ultimately lead to a habit of bottling up every feeling, not just the bad ones. I've often wondered how many people live their lives behind a mask, portraying one image but really living another, all the while bottling up feelings and emotions that really need to be shared with someone who truly cares for them.
It may be a good idea to open the dusty trunk of childhood memories every now and then and go through a few. I think the ones usually buried there are the ones we try to forget. But in doing so we may just figure out a reason why we tend to do one thing or another today. I am a firm believer in knowing the "why", not just the "what". The "why" is much more vital!
Being a nurse, I have been trained to know the rationale behind each action. That was actually my least favorite part of nursing school. Not only were we trained to do a task perfectly, but if we were not able to explain why we did it, we would fail just as if we hadn't done a single step right. Wow. How much easier life would be if we could step back and ask ourselves why. Maybe then we could figure out how to solve the problem.
Just some ramblings today from the recesses of a full mind. Most of my blog posts are not this personal. This one may even be a bit dull, but it's something I felt like writing. Having that old memory come up again today, I wanted to ponder it a little... so I pondered out loud. :)