I glance over at the scoreboard, 20-22. Not too terrible. It’s the third and final game to end the tie. My girls and I can still win if we keep our hopes up.
I rush back to the serving position at the end of the court. My serve, my chance to even out the score. I can do this. We have to win this team.
The crowd sitting on the bleachers is silent, waiting for me to toss the ball into the air and hit it. SMACK! The ball floats over the net smooth and fast, and before the other team can react, the ball hits the gym floor. My teammates cheer for me, encouraging me.
Hoping that I can score another ace, I happily jog back to the serving spot to serve again. I can do this. I have to do this. I look at the score, 21-23. Come on, Emily. It should be easy. Just serve the ball! You’ve done it a thousand times, so you can do it again, I think to myself. But this time, I toss the ball a little too in front of me and a bit too low for me to get a good swing at it. The ball floats right into the top of the net. I am a little bit annoyed that I missed my serve, but I brush the thought off. It is more important to focus on getting the next point.
It’s the other team’s serve now, but I can’t see the other team’s server because the teammate in front of me is too tall, but before I am about to ask her to move over a little so that I can see the server, the referee blows her whistle and the server from the other team serves it over the net with a fast serve just like mine. Before I can react, the ball strikes the ground.
All of a sudden, I panic. Fear tugs at the rims of my beating heart. I am outraged, not at my team, but at myself. Stress surges through my body. It isn’t even a big deal, I try and reassure myself. But I don’t succeed in calming myself down. I burst into angry tears, and realize that I cannot continue playing like this. Irritated, I curse under my breath. I want to disappear. I demand my coach to take me out of the game, even though it’s game point, 24-20. I am in hysteria, but I literally cannot control myself. Distress takes control of my brain, and my thoughts are rushed and unorganized. My mind is spinning faster than a tornado. I can’t think straight. I stomp a million times in frustration. Why can’t I just control my temper?, I think as I try to breathe deeply, but nothing seems to work. I cry another batch of panicky tears. What is happening to me?
We lose the game and I lose confidence in myself.