Monday, July 10, 2006

College Wesleyan 15, Hanfield 5

I'm sure I have commented in a previous post about how much I love playing church league softball, but after tonight's game, I must reiterate again that it is one of the most enjoyable parts of the summer for me. Playing for our team combines two things I love - competition and fellowship (not listed in any particular order :) ). Now that I have played for several years, I even enjoy the camaraderie with the other teams and players that have also been playing for several years. With some of these women, softball is our only connection, but when I see them out in public, I will stop and have a conversation with them because I feel like I know them. Most of the players on our team have also played for several years, and the only time I really get to talk to some of them is during softball season.

Tonight was our biggest challenge of the season to date. We have had a rivalry with Hanfield for the last few years; we usually get the best of them during the regular season, and they get the best of us during tournament time. I feel almost silly admitting this, but I was really nervous today. I had a headache most of the day and made several bathroom trips. During the game, even when we were several runs ahead, I found myself light-headed (well, more so than usual) as I was running the bases. It wasn't until the game was over that I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I was telling myself, "THIS IS CHURCH LEAGUE SOFTBALL, NOT THE WORLD SERIES." Doesn't matter to me, I can't help it. I inherited the competitive gene.

My nerves during this game and when my brother and I were playing in the tennis tournament got me evaluating why I put myself in competitive situations. The church league softball does offer the fellowship aspect, but I can't say I felt enjoyment playing in the tennis tournament. I was playing in 90 degree weather, I wasn't playing well, and my brother and I weren't exactly socializing. I had even PAID for this experience, and when it was all over, even though we won, my dominating emotion was relief. Not relief that we had won, but relief that we didn't lose. Some people can play a board game or a sport and really care less if they win (I cannot even fathom that, but I know these people exist.) I lost in a euchre game during our camping trip this weekend, and I was still lamenting the loss as I went to bed - we lost 10-8, I was euchred on the final hand even though I had 4 trump (if only Paul had played the queen of spades instead of the queen of hearts, we would have been ahead 9-8 instead of losing.) One thing I have discovered about my competitive nature is that I hate losing more so than I love winning. So I have started contemplating what is it about losing that I hate so much, and I have come up with a few ideas.

During my childhood, especially the junior high/high school years, I was trying, as most people, to find an identity. I didn't really fit in with the cheerleader type, and though I was in the "excel" classes, I wasn't the typical book smart studious type. Having a Christian upbringing, I was always pretty careful with who I hung around with, so that limited my social interactions, also. Until the 8th grade, my family attended a church with a youth group that consisted of me, my brother, and a couple other kids who sometimes attended church. I did have a core group of friends that I hung around at school, but they weren't the "cool" group that everyone secretly wants to be a part of. But I wasn't willing to participate in activities or be a certain type of person who would fit into that cool crowd. However, in my mind, I was "somebody" because of sports. Through junior high and high school, I was always known as the tennis player and basketball player. So even though I wasn't necessarily a part of the in-group, I felt like I still "mattered." Once I got to college, it was no longer about being "somebody," but it was all about living up to expectations - especially staying in town for college. So the drive to win (or not lose) was all about meeting the expectations people had for me. If I met those expectations, than instead of joy, I felt relief. These are pretty general statements; I know there were joyful times, and I look back on my college days fondly - I have great memories, and a lot of them revolve around sports trips/games/matches. But I think my attitude regarding performance was set, and a little bit of that carries over today. So why did I willingly participate in the tennis tournament (other than to please my brother)? I guess to prove to myself and whoever else that I can still do it. Maybe I still carry a little of that need for identity today, especially when I feel inadequate with the family/work identity I already have.

Of course, being raised in the family I was, I had plenty of competitive opportunities, and even now we rarely have a family get-together without a game being played. Getting my dad, my brother, and me involved in a game against each other can be trouble (we've had more than a few arguments over rules/strategy, etc.) And Elizabeth is well on her way, too. I wasn't there last night but heard the story. I guess there was a pretty competitive game of croquet last night between my parents, nephew, and nieces. It came down to my nephew and Elizabeth, and though they were both poisoned, he won. My dad said after a few tears were shed, she sat alone off by some bushes to contemplate the loss. After awhile, she joined the group, back to her normal self. He said as a coach, he likes that kind of "hate to lose" attitude, and I have to admit, I like a certain amount of it, too. Maybe not for a six year old.

I told Jason today was the perfect summer day. I slept until 10:00, hung out around the house all day, got to play softball, and then went to Kelley's for a birthday hangout and socialized (Happy Birthday again, Kelley, although now it's past midnight so I guess I'm a day late.) The ice cream and brownies tasted a whole lot better after winning! And the best part about summer...I get to do it all over again tomorrow.


Blogger Jim and Jaena said...

Good stuff here to think about, Deb. I feel that pressure too, along with the competitive drive; but I was not as involved in sports like you were, so I think mine comes out in different ways.

We could easily start a discussion group on the topics you present. Meet each week at Starbuck's, Tree of Life, or someone's house (Kelley? :-) ) after kids (for those who have them) go to bed to talk for an hour or so...anyone interested?

July 11, 2006 12:09 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

The question is, Jaena, after your kids go to bed or mine? If we wait for my kids, we would be meeting at midnight :). Just kidding, sounds great to me!

July 11, 2006 12:26 PM  
Blogger Kelley said...

Great post! I'm not even an athlete but I can get pretty competitive. I would be willing to sign up for the discussion groups. My house is always open, no kids here! ;)

July 11, 2006 2:02 PM  
Blogger Jim and Jaena said...

Kelley, that is exactly what I was thinking...and I am serious about this. It may just be me, but I feel like I am lacking for interaction (adult interaction, specifically). It could be low key, no hassle about food (unless someone just wanted to bring something). Set a regular night and whoever can make it, makes it. If we can't or if we have to cancel for various reasons, there is no pressure since we would know we would have "next week."

Name the time and place and I am there! First topic - this post (competition, feelings of self-worth, etc...) :)

July 11, 2006 3:25 PM  
Blogger Kelley said...

I would be totally willing to do this. I don't have a preference of nights. For the summer, Monday's are bad because we have softball games. How about Wed. or Thursday nights? My house is always open, I'd be happy to host. We could start next week next week if you want. Let me know.

July 11, 2006 5:38 PM  
Blogger Jim and Jaena said...

Sounds perfect to me, Kelley. What day and time is best for you, Deb?

July 11, 2006 11:16 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

As far as I know, either day would work (although Jason is the official calendar). I'll have to talk with him about time - as far as go after bath or bedtime or be back for bath or bedtime. We'll have lots of time to talk this weekend :).

July 12, 2006 12:15 AM  
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July 19, 2006 8:44 PM  

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