The other day my sister called to tell me something really funny about my niece. After her first game of T-ball, Kamryn was ready to hang it all up. Her unsportsmanlike conduct during the game gave her the option of getting a spanking or sitting out of the Florida Gator gymnastics meet my sister was taking her to the next day. Can you guess what that little girl chose? Yep- spanking. This was funny for a couple of reasons, but the inside laugh with my sis came from seeing that Kamryn is a lot like her Aunt Ash (that’s me).
Around 20 years ago, I put on a similar show when I was signed up to play pigtail league softball. I hated it. My little petite self had to stand behind the shortstop so I wouldn’t get hit by the strongest batter in the league while I was in the outfield (For any of you Palatka folk reading this, her name rhymes with Kindy Huckles and you know you’d be afraid of that hit too). The final straw was when I caught a ball straight to the eye at practice. I told my dad that I was done. I quit softball. When he told me that “Surrencys don’t quit,” I told him , “Then I’m not a Surrency anymore.” I think I felt strongly about the whole thing. Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand my Dad's whole stance on quitters and finishing something you start, but I think I was on to something about myself. #1, I’m kind of dramatic. #2, I just don’t like some things. Oh, and I’ll leave out the part of how my Dad tried to fix my fear of fly-balls. What dad doesn’t throw tennis balls at their kid to try and cure their phobia, right?
After years of trying to reconcile the place in me that needed to be sporty; I’ve come to terms with this one thing. I’m not athletic. I think I have always equated athleticism with success and talent, and maybe that’s just because it was highly valued in the place where I grew up. I’m definitely not saying that being athletic is bad. I actually wish I could join my friends in competitive volleyball and that I wasn’t afraid of a fly ball to the eye...even when I’m sitting in the furthest seats away from right field at a Braves game. I have friends that are SO athletically talented, and I love that about them. I even love to watch Gator football and NBA basketball (except for the Heat, gah- don’t get me started on Lebron). So here’s what I AM saying; I am becoming ok with me. Little ole me who prefers to cheer for my husband from the sidelines at the staff volleyball tournament and enjoy iced coffee while doing so. The Ashley who unashamedly loves country music and cheesy fiction books and finds the perfect Saturday is when I get to walk around a flea market with a latte in hand. That is a happy, honest Ashley.
For me, it’s sports. Is there anything in life you’ve equated with being successful that you just may not enjoy, or like me, where you may not be exactly exceptional? Maybe for you it’s not loving music, or being ok that you hate concerts because they’re way too crowded and smelly. Do you secretly loathe reading, but give in to pressure to join in the conversation about the Katniss-Peeta-Gale love triangle?
I challenge us to be ok with owning up to who we are, even when it may make us feel a little sub-par. I also think the first place we have to look in order to be ok with being ourselves is in the mirror. I hope that we will enjoy life more if we’re not stressed out about having to do something that actually gives us cold sweats to think about. And If I’m learning anything about life as I get older, it’s that I will probably change and grow to become an even different person with even different likes and dislikes than I have today. But I will try to be honest with myself as that process happens on the inside.