A Softball Experience by Olivia Tatara
An obligation is a course of action that someone is required to take, whether legal, moral, or self inflicted. Obligations are constraints; they limit our freedom. We can choose however, to freely act under obligations. Obligation exists when there is a choice to do what is morally good and what is morally unacceptable. Often times, they are illusion. Of course, quitting is most often not really quitting. Knowing when enough is enough for your health and “love of the game” is a skill that should be mastered early on in life otherwise you will take on obligations that mean nothing to you.
I totally cannot deny that softball played a huge part of my life. The sport taught me to have an unbreakable work ethic and also how important exercise and movement is. It also helped me understand people better and made me challenge myself.
I was a student athlete my whole life until my senior year of college. That year was my game changer because I said no to softball and conformity and found out my true self defining talents went far beyond the field. That year was pertinent is defining who I am today: a strong, artistic, independent woman who doesn’t follow the crowd and breaks free from obstacles that others think they need to face just because that is the way it is.
Softball taught me so much about myself and people but just like life, experiences are ephemeral. You got to do what you really want to do and not listen to anyone or anything negative. That is the only way you will truly be happy. Do not get trapped in the past, otherwise you will be living in illusions.
Softball taught me that I am strong and life taught me that I can do whatever I want and be whoever I want. My experience is unique but many people can probably relate to where I am coming from and have similar experiences. It is not like I was a bench warmer on the teams I was apart of. I played almost every game either behind the plate or in the infield and I cherished the moments when I could rest in the dugout while my teammates played the field. Honestly, sometimes I even internally cheered to myself when a game or tournament got rained out or practice got cancelled. Through it all, I loved the sport and it shaped most of my childhood.
I did, however, reach my athletic goals being named ESPN player of the week for the East Coast (Washington Post Article) one week in high school and I went out in a blaze of glory for my softball career being named first team catcher for my college conference (old profile and picture of me). I also became strong leader within me, setting an example for the other girls who wanted to break free as well. Kudos to you all that found your own ways and passions.
Sure, some people/places/things will try to get in your way and make you question yourself and your decisions, but I can confidently say I am proud of all my decisions and I have never been happier in my whole life. It is very true that if I didn’t change my mindset and if I was too caught up about what others thought about me and my choices, I would be living a completely different life, in a different place, where people would be sucking my energy. That is just the way people are and the way life is. You have to jump on opportunities when they present themselves or you are going to suffer and have regret. Trust your instincts and don’t think too much. Most often, your initial gut feeling is correct.
I always thought it was too risky to be proud of who I am, like someone was going to ridicule me for my true self. I have learned that humility and knowing you can be more and are meant for more will change your life.
The incentive for stopping my softball career was my realization to no longer be tied down within a corrupt system that degraded, exhausted, and frustrated every person who entered. These systems are abundant throughout the world and it is important to identify the patterns before they take harm on you. They are built on false morals and outdated techniques but people still follow and succumb because “that is the way it has always been”. In hindsight, it would have been more beneficial for me to have gone into college without being on the softball team. I would have had more time, less stress, and maybe focused more on what I really wanted to do with my life. However, I believe everything happens for a reason and things unfold the way they should. Things did turn out pretty great through all the choices I took to direct my life. Quitting softball was a difficult choice for me because that is all I knew growing up and that is how I coped with life. When the love for the pureness of the sport leaves and it is overrun by drama, exhaustion, and frustration, that is when you need to look within yourself and see if this is how you want to devote your time. It is really worth it?
Making difficult choices for yourself can really show you how strong you are and reveal the real faces of others as well. My advice to anyone making a life change is to step back and be an observer in your situation and if something is not beneficial to your mental well being or physical health, it is best to reevaluate. This applies to everything in life.
My experience for this realization was softball related because that played a huge part in my childhood life; but knowing who you are fully applies to every faction of life. Knowing when to change your job, feeling when your friends aren’t really your friends anymore, and even changing your atmosphere completely and starting fresh are not easy things to do. If you follow your gut, your heart, and your dreams that one day it will be better, your foundation for a happier and more fulfilling life will build itself and grow with you everyday. You know, you are not going to be a player forever. You may evolve into a coach of the trade but if this is not what makes you happy, then why?
Ultimately, I am ever so grateful for all my experiences and what softball has taught me. I learn from every single person who enters my life and from every experience. And I am still learning everyday. It is best not to hold on to emotions, people, or places, because this will only make you relive those experiences in your mind. Then your body goes crazy because it does not know the difference from an actual experience and a memory your mind plays. The whole point of life is to clean away those memories to make room for better experiences.
In that last year of college, along with my studies, I immersed myself in mindfulness and meditation. Meditation really changed my life for the better, helping me understand myself and how the body functions. I learned about my energy, the love within, the energies of others, how to identify motives of others, how to heal illnesses within myself, and how to let go of the past and experiences that I was holding on to (most of the time without me even knowing).
Do not view me the wrong way, I was very emotional and my whole life and I used sports as an outlet to cover up and hide from facing my true feelings about the world and my own self. It has been a journey in my 25 years, battling within the feelings of insecurity, anxiety, loneliness, and self-guilt (sometimes for even no good reason); but through everything so far in my young life (softball, friends, family views, relationships, and over 20 years of schooling) I can confidently say that I am very strong within myself. I actually have always felt that way about myself but instead of nurturing my inner child, I listened to people define me instead of me defining myself. I have transformed into everything I wanted to be and I still have a whole life to live. That is the most beautiful thing in life. You are able to be whoever you want to be as long as you want. Do not get caught up in the predetermined ways others show you if it is not what you want. Stand up and be independent. Do not let friends holds you back and do not let your significant others make you feel inferior.
I thank God for each and every day and I thank my body for being healthy and taking me on this journey. That is all we can do.
Love, be grateful, and forgive yourself.
Thank you to everyone that contributed to my experience: teammates, friends, sisters, coaches, and trainers. Thank you forever to my family and loving parents who paid my way with their time and money for me to have this sport foundation. It did not go unappreciated. Life is funny how it brings us together and sets us on our own journeys; I am so grateful deep down for all the smiles, laughs, tears, cheers, wins, losses, and long hours of practicing and competing as a team that softball helped me experience to build up solid technique and foundational skills. It is not the only thing that made me a strong, independent woman, but it sure did play a major factor.
I hope you gained as much as I did from your experiences no matter what sport you played or roles you played. I hope you are able to reflect on your life experiences and make peace within yourselves. This is what is going to get you far in life. That is what life is all about. Everyone’s story is unique.
Peace and love to you all and may you live your true talents and passions without anyone telling you how to be.