The last few days have been a little tough for me. I have been trying to keep in mind the things I have written about, and hold myself to them. But last night, I failed.
I was at a bar with a friend of mine with whom I have become very close, Song Mook. He lived in America for one year during high school, so his English is exceptionally good, and he and I have found that we have a lot in common as far as what we want out of life and the way we view the world. So we have been spending a lot of time together, talking and playing pool at bars in our area, one of which we were at last night. We were sitting at the table talking about random things when he leaned in and said, “Hey, want to practice your Korean?” Immediately I felt something leap in my stomach like a frog that had just been rudely awakened. “Sure…” I answered, inwardly unsure. “I want you to walk over to those people playing pool and tell them we would like to play next game. Here’s how: eegan… tah oom meh… oo dee…” Before he had even finished the sentence, I could hear that voice in my mind telling me I couldn’t do it. It was telling me that they probably wouldn’t understand me, and would laugh at me right away for even trying.
Logically, I knew they wouldn’t do that. I was quite certain of it and, even if they had, should that really matter to me anyway? After a little practice and Song’s encouragement, I got up and walked over to the table. Waiting on the side, my nervousness reached an all time high. I felt like I was at a middle school dance again waiting for one specific girl to catch my eye so I could say that one sentence I was repeating in my head over and over. And yet, in this situation, even though that sentence was in a different language, I was afraid of the very same thing. “What if they laugh at me? What if they don’t understand me and I’m caught off guard? What if.. what if.. what if…” As their game came to an end, and my nervousness overcame me, the moment passed and they asked Song in Korean if we wanted to play next. I was so disappointed in myself.
For the remainder of last night, I stayed focused on two major failures. One, my inability to overcome my nervousness by living in the moment and two, the fact that I lost a perfectly good chance to prove something to myself. And what seemed to compound the feeling, was the fact that I had just written two blogs recently regarding those two specific topics. When I woke up this morning, I called my girlfriend and told her what had happened. And she, ever so eloquently, made everything make sense to me in one swift sentence. “Your failure wasn’t being too nervous and missing the chance to prove something to yourself, your failure was not recognizing how this experience can make you better.” She went on to explain to me that this situation in itself was practice for the future. The disappointment I experienced would simply go toward motivating me not to be so nervous next time and to study harder.
THE TAKEAWAY: Thirty minutes ago when all the dust from this conversation with her settled in my mind, I looked out my window at the sunny sky and realized what I wanted to write about today. We always have a choice. Every pitch life throws at us, we have the decision to swing or not. There is no umpire. No one to tell us we’re about to strike out. No crowd yelling, “HEEYYY BATTA BATTA BATTA!!! HEEYY!!!” We are simply standing there alone, and the choice is always ours. We can choose to look back at all the strikes that have flown by untouched, or we can choose to look forward to the infinite pitches we still have the chance to swing at. So today, I say to you, and to myself, pick a spot out in the stands, point to it, and swing away baby.