I was the best server on my volleyball team in 8th grade. Of course it was the C team (A was best, B was good, C was leftovers) and I served underhand. I was good at serving because the other school’s C Team was just as bad as my team was at returning the serve. I enjoyed playing. I don’t think it bothered me much that I couldn’t play with the A team. I knew my spot.
Fast forward to now and I’m certainly not the best server on my volleyball team. Last year I put together a co-ed volleyball team because I needed a way to get exercise and I wanted to see if it was still a sport I loved. Though I improved considerably from that first game to the last game at the end of the season, I never fooled myself into thinking I was great. I became an athlete. I worked hard. I just don’t have the instincts to dive after a ball. Self-preservation is more important to me than trying to block anything at the net. I’m a wimp.
Last week was the first week our entire volleyball team was present for a game. We’d added on a few new players to replace a couple that had moved away. Um… they’re really good. Like amazingly good. And we had 7 players instead of 6 so I subbed in sometimes but didn’t play as much.
Watching really really really good volleyball players does a couple things to me:
1. It makes me happy. Watching people do what they do best or really well makes me giddy. A perfect spike, a great block, a dive and save of a wayward ball… all of that inspires me to be better.
2. I want to try harder and play better. I want to train my brain to be a stellar athlete. I want to do what great players do. I leave it all on the court.
3. Then I realize even if I gave it 110% (which is mathematically impossible), I won’t be anywhere near as amazing as the rockstar volleyball players I accidentally replaced myself with on the volleyball team. I’m just not as good as they are at volleyball.
And that’s okay.
No. really. It is.
I’m not giving up on volleyball. I love playing. I love watching it. Being part of a team is important and crafting a team with good dynamics and rhythm is fun. I just have been reminded it’s important to seek out areas where talent comes naturally and apply a solid work ethic to that.
I do other things well. In college my art professor looked at a piece of pottery I had formed and trimmed on the pottery wheel. “Well, Lamb,” he said shaking his head. “You do other things well. Stick to writing.”