Growth and comfort do not co-exist. Plain and simple.
I’ll start off by letting you all know that I am WAY (and I mean WAY) out of my comfort zone right now. I recently pitched in my first game since 2008.
I had never had a feeling like I had when I was on the mound that day last week (outside of the times when I went on roller coasters and I thought I was going to die). My legs were numb. My stomach was in knots. I was confused. I was unsure. Everything about that time was awkward and very, very uncomfortable — physically, mentally, and even emotionally. And let me tell you, in my head that was not the way I imagined it playing out.
I used to feel at peace out there in the circle. That place was where I was meant to be — my happy place, so-to-speak. Regardless if it was bases loaded and none out in an Olympic game, or an 0-2 count with two outs in an exhibition game, I knew everything was going to be okay. I was confident. I was, simply, at home.
As I tried to remember what my routine was, so I could get back to that happy place, I found myself over-thinking and almost got a high five to the face because I was just so out of rhythm. Literally, I forgot how the high-fives went. I was a mess. Kind of like after your first child, when you have no idea what in the hell to do. You are just constantly confused and wondering simple things like, “Did I used to shower every day, or was it every other day?”
That feeling, the one of being so uncomfortable, completely sucked. I mean, really sucked. At one point, I was wishing I could stop time. I would have then rewound it, gotten back on a plane and returned to my good old comfy home in Ohio, to snuggle with my family and get back to my regular routine.
It’s crazy to think what that much time does to memories. It seems like the way I remembered this thing going was actually not how it goes in reality. You could say I had on those rose-colored glasses that blocked out all the stress and pain involved in success. (Ha, it’s like childbirth right … everything was just peaches and cream, so we crazy moms think it’s a GREAT thing to do over and over again.)
And, now after the dust has settled, and I am still in one piece and the world didn’t end (which it felt like it might have), I’ve decided that it was probably the best thing that could have happened to me.
I miss my old softball playing self. I miss the comfort of the field. I miss my family. A lot. I’m talking, a lot, a lot. But I’m excited to grow. I’m excited to learn. I’m excited to create new memories and experiences. I’m excited to be on a great team and play for my country.
Regardless of the outcome, I know I’ll leave this summer a different person. Actually, in all honesty, after that first game, I am already a different person. I have already added to my experiences and I have experienced something I never had before.
And of course, I relate everything I do back to my family, and this instance was no different. I was sharply reminded, by my new adventure out on the field, that I can’t control everything. Just like at home when things like my three-year-old son fracturing his wrist happen in an instant.
I learned that fighting through tough times often leads to rewards in the future. I had a rough start to my new playing days, but in my next outing, I was better (THANK GOD). And after a few weeks, I’m feeling like I am finally settling in. It’s been an absolute dogfight for me. And I’ll do that for my kids. I’ll fight for them as long as I am breathing, and I’ll do my best to instill that fight in them because it’s what will propel them through their own tough times.
I (re)learned that the process is more important than the outcome. We talk about this all the time with the National Team. It’s easy to talk about it when things are going well. But it was a different story for me this go-around when my skills were rusty and I had to be okay with having the end result be nowhere near what my glory days’ end result was. I really have to be patient and put my work in. And, I hope to teach my kids the same lesson — that it’s about the journey, not the destination. It’s about what we get out of our perceived failures that make us better people. It’s about enjoying the moments, as they happen.
So, I invite you all to join me in this prickly place. Remember, growth and comfort do not co-exist. Get outside your comfort zone. Test yourself. See what you learn. And then you can sit around with your best friends, with your children (hopefully) fast asleep, with wine in your hands, and share some really interesting chapters from your own books.