My friends describe me as someone who is very careful and frustratingly consistent so it was kind of hard to really think of a time when I took a huge risk. However, the one time I can remember really taking a risk was when I was younger because the decision was so closely tied to my identity. At that point, I had pretty much played tennis my entire life and committing to another sport was unthinkable. At the same time, I felt there was a part of me that I really needed explore which could be done by involving myself in a different extracurricular activity. Essentially, I had to decide whether or not I was going to dedicate another year to tennis practice or start brand new in the world of wrestling.
Luckily for me, the wrestling program at my school had a week of tryouts before requiring a full commitment to the team. The first day of tryouts was probably one of the worst and best days of my life now that I think about just it because of how much of shocker it was. The combination of intensity, physicality, and bruises was certainly not something that I was used to. By the end of the day, I was hurting in areas of my body that I didn’t even know could be hurt. How could I endure something like this for 6 more months?
The biggest conflict that was presented before me was whether I would stay within my comfort zone in tennis or try something new and explore a different part of myself in wrestling. In tennis, there were certain personal characteristics that I learned at a very young age and continued to develop as I grew older to the point where I was very comfortable and familiar with who I was as a person. An article by BBC claims that introverts like myself do well in focused and calm environments. I don’t necessarily believe in stereotypes about sports players, but I found that wrestling and tennis required me to really figure things out mentally in different ways. As a very simple example, I found that in wrestling the level of mental aggression usually correlated with how well someone might do. In tennis I was almost focused more on being in a neutral state of mind. I don’t think this works the same way for everyone, but for me it did and it really made me think about committing myself mentally to something I wasn’t used to.
On top of stepping out of my comfort zone, I also had to deal with the fact that I may not have been cut out for wrestling and that failure was imminent in spite of my efforts. Brown mentioned in her TedTalk that part of vulnerability involves fully committing yourself to something that may not end up working out in the end. After thinking about it, I decided that I was going to do everything within my power to make sure that I succeeded in my first year on the wrestling team.
Things ended up working out in the end. I was able to secure a position on the wrestling team, and eventually I was able to get used to the grind that was a part of what seemed like every wrestling practice. One of the best things about being on the wrestling team that season was learning just how diverse I was as a person. There were certain aspects of me that I learned about that I feel I would have never found out about before. For example, cuts and bruises that accumulated over practice were things that I learned to love. Trust me when I say I’m not bragging about being tough or macho. Rather, those bruises and cuts felt like a representation of the struggles, failures, and triumphs that I experienced over life. Those three things to me are what make life worth living.