My time has finally come to the point where I can officially say that I am a college senior. This is both a scary and exciting chapter, but I am swinging towards more of the exciting side for now.
I am beyond thankful for the university that I had chosen to attend for my entire college career and more than likely would have not of excelled as well as I have here than anywhere else. If there is one thing that truly stands out among my school in comparison to others it is the community and support that it has for their students. Professors, faculty and staff, alumni, and all other fellow students come together as one for education with a bigger purpose.
If you really knew me you would know how much of a go-getter that I am. I love being up and about the newest things, I love getting involved, and I love people. Connecting with new people and always making new friends had been something that I had always been good at. This has been a huge gift and passion of mine but unfortunately I got a little off track and forgot about this talent of mine.
I became very involved at my school which led to holding titles such as being a student athlete, mentor, worship leader, admissions recruiter, and so on. These opportunities were great and have helped me grow and understand myself as a person in several ways. However, it wasn’t until the end of this past school year when I was able to realize that I was trying to create myself a new heart in so many different fields that I was missing out on plenty of opportunities for God to grow me in my personal faith and walk with Him. My struggle became that I wanted people to know who I was and for my identity to be rooted in myself and for what I could make myself out to be.
This past weekend my school had an event what we call our “Variety Show”. It’s very similar to what you would see in a dance team performance or a show choir. For the first time out of my entire college experience I took part in this and was reminded how much I missed performing. Before I came to college I was highly involved with show choir and singing had been my number one passion. Before I graduated high school I signed to a talent agency and wasn’t even going to go to college, but God had a different plan. I even entered college as a music major, but I decided to play tennis instead and chose the role of an athlete. There I said goodbye to my first love and put music on hold. However, that night at the variety show I had an instant wake up call. It was as if I finally realized everything that I was missing out on because of my decision to become a student athlete and join this specific sport rather than pursuing other dreams. I have always loved playing tennis, but it was never something that I thought that made me who I was.
Yesterday I made the decision to walk away from a piece of me that I have carried for over ten years.
I made the decision to walk away from the game that I found to love.
I made the decision to no longer be on the women’s tennis team.
Being a part of a collegiate athletic program had been a great experience and I was able to take away several life lessons.
I learned the importance of
- hard work
- self discipline
These past few months I have been pondering over the thoughts and possibilities of what could of happened or who I could be if I had not of played tennis at all competitively in college. Where would my life be? What doors could have opened? Would I still be the same person? Of course not. But I still continue to think of the thought “what if”. Being a student athlete had become a huge part of my life and something that I finally realized was that I also tried to make it my life.
I blinded myself with this idea that I had to be a tennis player in order to feel some type of satisfaction or that I had to continue to pursue this sport to feel accomplished, and maybe even I thought that I had to be entitled to this social status to be fulfilled and feel good about myself.
I let my mind become manipulated that I had to meet certain standards for so long from various outlets that not only did I fear whom my identity was in, but I lost my joy for a sport that I came to love and I became bitter and angry. I continued to feed my mind that I had to be faster, I had to be stronger, I had to be thinner, I had to hit harder, etc. I became so focused on all of the negativity because of my choice of a sport that I lost a huge part of who I was- my joy- and I missed out on three years of opportunity and growth that I could of obtained if I hadn’t listened to the lies and negativity that the enemy had fed to me through this evil tactic. He twisted something that I loved into something that I despised. Almost every single day I would come out to the courts with a bad attitude because I knew it would never be enough.
Somehow my main goal was to accomplish these things, although they were by far not relevant to what I was really working for. In reality my biggest struggle became my identity and what I wanted my social status to be. I honestly thought I was stuck because I worked so hard that part of me just wanted to tough it out to get the last year over with and I didn’t want to be considered a quitter. It was like a crave that I always had to have it even though I wasn’t benefiting from it. Then suddenly I was finally able to address the problem and confront it. Now that struggle is no more because I now know the truth and how to obtain it, but first I had to walk away and realized that I was bigger and worth more than this struggle.
So What’s Next?
I’m starting over and learning that I don’t have to conform to who I think that I have to be and what the world, outside voices, and the enemy tries to persuade me with. I am embracing my last year in college and those that I am surrounded with. I missed out on a lot of friendships, opportunities, and experiences that I could of had but I was too busy making myself out to be someone that I wasn’t- constantly bitter, annoyed, and keeping to myself. That is not who I am and I done with that old me. I hardly ever wanted to be around people, I would think negatively, and it was hard for me to happy. That stops here. By eliminating this old part of my life and moving forward I am embracing this new opportunity of freedom and potential.
For the First Time In Forever
To be honest for the first time in what feels like forever, I finally feel relieved. I can’t be anymore satisfied by my decision because I am no longer held bondage of my weakness. I am free and the possibilities are endless. I no longer feel for the need of always having to impress others, that I’m stuck, or questioning my worth. I no longer have to fight to feel temporarily content. I actually think that I have found myself again and I’m that confident girl who holds her head high and laughs like there’s nothing to be afraid of. I have my ambition back to believe like a child again and chase after goals and dreams no matter who ridiculous they sound. I’m not afraid to speak my mind because of the possibility that others might not agree. So I’m thankful for this drought and hard decision that I had to make because at the end of the day I can finally say that I found myself again.
And I Thank You
I could not have gotten this far if it wasn’t for those who have supported me each step of the way. God has truly blessed me with some great teammates since the start in 2013 that have only helped me into who I have become today. Although there had been struggles there has also been light, laughter, and a lot of memories thanks to them. You have pushed, cheered, and encouraged me through every mile, stroke, and shot of the way. I love you and I am beyond thankful for opportunity to grow with you as tennis players and people and I wouldn’t change a single bit of any of it.
I Am Talented. I Am Gifted. I Am Loved.
And I don’t have to be told any differently because this is the truth. I don’t have to play a sport in order to get attention or some sense of satisfaction to feel good about myself. I don’t have to be in a specific friend circle in order to be identified as worthy or accepted. And I don’t need a title in order to convince myself that I am worth something. God has blessed me with amazing opportunities, people, challenges, and experiences that have made me into the strong and courageous that I am today and I could not feel anymore proud. I am surrounded by a secure support system of friends, family, faculty and staff that love me for who I am and never let me forget that. I love the person that I have become because I fought to be her.
YOU DON’T DEFINE ME
I had to learn that playing tennis, being on a stage all of the time, wearing uniform, my stats, the brand of clothes that I wore, what table that I sat at- does not define who I am as a person. The activities that you are involved in, the sports that you play, the things that like to watch on TV, your struggles do NOT define you. They may be a part of who you are but these activities, titles, and side notes do not define who you are. These may be bits and pieces of what made me who I am today, but they do not define me. The side notes of our lives do not define who we are and the people we will become. It’s a common habit to do, but it isn’t healthy and I’m through with it. Are you?
Don’t define your identity through materialistic, temporary, or worldly things. Why not? Because you will be setting yourself up for disappointment over and over and you will never be satisfied. Whether you want to be a college tennis player, a famous drummer, or even Miss America- don’t dedicate your entire life purpose to achieving this goal because you are worth way more than that. Or maybe you’re not necessarily rooting your life entirely into a goal. Maybe it’s something that you personally think is more meaningful: your grades, a boyfriend, popularity, your job, etc. None of things things will bring you true happiness alone. It may temporarily, but it won’t last.God is truly the only one who has the best intention out there for you. Sure, He may want you to become Miss America, but He wants you to give Him your heart first. Whatever we do and in all we do it has to be for His kingdom. That’s the intention that we need to have in everything that we do. It is not for ourselves, but for Him and He will do the rest.
Psalm 37:4-5 New Living Translation (NLT)
4 Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.
5 Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.
Now, I Challenge You
This was my struggle. If I could encourage anyone who is struggling with identity, self- worth, or lack of confidence fears I would tell them to be courageous! Deep down you know WHO you are and WHOSE you are. You don’t need to have the satisfaction or approval from others, or titles to tell you who you are called to be or designate your path of life. I learned the hard way and tried to fight the truth but today I am finally letting God and letting go. I know that I have a bright future ahead of me and a full one at that. There was no way that I was going to become a professional tennis player, coach, or even in any headline at that. I was only fooling myself to deny my real talents and gifts and you may be too. Trust the route that God has for you because it will be by far greater than any that you try to make yourself.
Remember, YOU ARE NOT A QUITTER. You are wise and a leader for taking the next step forward to other’s who are as not strong enough to take for themselves.
You Are a Leader.
Be confident in that and the paths that God will guide you to take. In doing so you will go far.
Deuteronomy 31:6 New Living Translation (NLT)
6 So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
Here’s to senior year.
- One Last Time
- One Last Chance
Take every opportunity that you can and don’t regret it.
Make the most of it and one to remember at that.
Because YOU are worth it.