AN ATHLETE'S PLEA: I AM NOT JUST MY PERFORMANCE

AN ATHLETE'S PLEA: I AM NOT JUST MY PERFORMANCE

So I had a bad game today. Yes, I missed 4 out of 5 of the three-pointers that I shot. You're right, I did double fault the first set away and that really put me in a hole to lose the match. Sure, I made two errors at short-stop and then struck out three times, the last with bases loaded and a chance to come back and win the game. So, does that make me a bad person? Does it make you love me less?

I have been so afraid of my back handspring on beam that I can't get myself to throw it. I know the coaches are angry and frustrated with me. They tell me everyday that I just don't want it bad enough, that I'm not trying hard enough. I see that look in your eyes too. You seem really frustrated with me and disappointed that I'm not going for it. You're short with me and impatient. Does it make me less of a person because I can't get myself to throw this skill? Does it make me a bad daughter?

I can't seem to throw strikes anymore. I'm yanking the ball almost every pitch and it's totally embarrassing me. I feel like a complete fool and the coaches have been making nasty comments to me in front of the whole team and whoever's watching. I feel like I want to find a hole to crawl into and hide. I hate baseball when I feel this way. You yell at me to just throw the ball. You impatiently tell me that I can do this. I can feel your anger and disappointment. I feel like such a loser and listening to you, I feel like a major failure as a ball player and an embarrassment to you as a son. Do you still love me as much when I can't hit the strike zone? Are you any less proud of me now that I'm struggling and I probably won't be the number one pitcher?

I'll admit it. I'm afraid of getting hurt. I can't stop myself from worrying that I'm going to get injured again. I know you tell me that the injury was almost three years ago. I know I'm supposed to "be a man and be tough!" But dad, I can't just turn the fear off. It's there almost every time I step onto the field. I try to tell myself that I have nothing to fear, that I should go all out for those 50:50 balls and to be tough. However, no matter what I tell myself, I still seem to defensively react by backing away from the contact. Does my fear make me less of a man in your eyes Dad? Does my fear make you love and respect me less?

I need you to know that I am not just my performance. I am not just a bad game, several strike-outs or a goal that I let in. I am not my fear of doing a skill or my lack of aggressiveness on the field. I am your son/daughter. I am a whole person with feelings and sensitivities. I want with all my heart for you to love and respect me. It absolutely kills me when you are disappointed in my play. I cringe inside when you negatively judge me. I want to die when I look at you in the stands after I mess up and I see that reaction of yours. I see the disappointment written all over your face. I hear the condemnation in your posture. I just hurt all over when I see that! 

I'm just a kid, YOUR kid. I want you to love me regardless of how well I play or whether I am too afraid to do the things that you want me to. You're the only dad/mom I have and I desperately need you to be on my team, on my side. When I screw up it's not because I want to let you down or embarrass you. I'd give absolutely anything for you to be proud of me. Please love me unconditionally just because I'm your son/daughter. Please be proud of me for the same reason. Please don't make me have to perform for your love and respect.