My heart was pounding out of my chest as I slammed the door to the car door shut. This was the day that I had been worrying about for weeks, but I still had to go out onto the soccer field. It was an early morning on a steaming hot Saturday in the middle of June. It was a normal Saturday for most people, but for me it was the day of my AYSO soccer tournament. This tournament was for the 7th and 8th grade girls who played for AYSO soccer teams all across Lake County. The only exception to this was me. A 6th grader that in my mind wasn’t nearly as good as the other older girls on the team. Clearly my self esteem at that time was at an all time low.
It all started on a tipical weekday a few weeks before the tournament. I was in my room watching a show on my phone when my mom burst into my room with a beaming smile stretching from ear to ear on her face.
“Honey, I just got a call from Coach Mark, and he told me that the U14 team for the sectional tournament needs some extra players. So he asked for you to play with them on their team.” My mom spoke in a haste, and she was clearly very excited already. I on the other hand felt like a bullet may have just passed through me.
I hesitantly replied “They want me to play in the sectional tournament? You mean the one with the older girls?” I had played with those girls before, and they were all super nice. However I was worried about what they would think of me spontaneously joining their team.
My mom continued “Yeah and you would be with the same girls that you played with before. Also, you would have Mark as a coach, and you liked having him as your coach last season!” Her smile was beginning to fade as she realized that I wasn’t quite as on board with the whole thing like she was.
“Right I just don’t want to barge in on their team.”
“Oh no you won’t don’t worry honey. You will do fantastic, and the girls are all really good too.”
“Alright I’ll do it.” I mumbled as I was less than excited for the following weeks to come.
During the couple of weeks before the tournament, I started feeling more and more nervous about the whole thing, and I needed some reassurance or maybe even a reason not to do it. At that point in time I was ready to give up and move on from the tournament. So, I asked my family and friends what they would do if they were in my situation.
My 2 sisters both encouraged me by saying “This experience can only make you better, and you’ll be able to learn from the other girls too.”
My brother who played varsity soccer in high school also tried to boost me up “I would go to this tournament because you will be able to go to a real tournament with really good players for the first time, and that will help you in future tournaments too.”
A few of my friends from school told me to do it too. One of them exclaimed “I think you should totally do it! It would be a great chance to get even better at soccer, and it would be lots of fun to spend the day with a bunch of friends doing what you love.”
They were all right, and even if I didn’t want them to be, they all were. I couldn’t run away from this no matter how difficult it may be. I was going to do the tournament because it could only help me and make me a better player.
Just a few days before the tournament I was starting to feel anxious again. I felt like there was a pot of boiling water in me, and that it might just boil over if I got too worried or uneasy. I knew I had to keep the pot from boiling over, but I didn’t know how to yet. I continued to get more and more advice, but it wasn’t helping to ease my concerns and worries.
Finally, the big day came. It was almost 7 in the morning, and I was nowhere near prepared to tackle the day physically or mentally. I trudged out of bed with weights around my ankles pulling me down to the ground with every step. I splashed some water on my face, and forced myself to wake up. I knew I had to do this, and there was no turning back now. My mom and I drove to the soccer fields as the hot sun was starting to reach up into the sky pulling itself out of sleep like I had earlier. My heart was pounding out of my chest as I slammed the car door shut. This was the day that I had been worrying about for weeks. No matter what I thought, I still had to go out onto the soccer field. The pot was boiling up again, and it would spill over soon if I didn’t calm down.
As soon as I reached the field that my team would be playing on next, I found the already set up tent with most of my teammates there. Theywere glad I was there. They helped to calm my nerves and send the pot of boiling water back down to a comfortable level. Soon the soccer games began, and my team won a few of the games and lost a couple too. Throughout the entire day I got support and advice from the other players, and even though I did mess up a lot I was able to recover alright. After a few grueling games in the heat we finally finished our last game. We placed 3rd overall, and I was happy with how we did.
Looking back now I don’t regret playing in the tournament. I was able to learn even more from the older girls and was able to get the experience of a tournament too. It has shaped my identity by showing me how it is alright to have low self esteem once in awhile. That as long as you get back up and push through, you can overcome anything. It is normal to have low self esteem or to feel anxious, but you have to pursue the things that give you low self esteem instead of running away from them.