Have you ever heard the phrase “Do what you love”? When I was younger these words caused me to spring into action. I remember pondering on this phrase for a bit before finally dropping the sport that drained me and picking up the sport that gave my adolescent self life. I kicked soccer out of my life so that I could cause a racquet in tennis. It was a tough decision for me to make at the time because I was so good at soccer. At the age of 14 I was the starting goalkeeper for my club’s top team, I had just previously gone through a year of training with the Georgia Olympic Development Program, and I was in my best form. However, my heart was not in it. The combination of burnout, continual pressure from coaches, and discovering my love for tennis had caused me to fall out of love with the sport of soccer. So, when tryout time came for spring sports at my high school, I stunned everyone around me by choosing to tryout for the tennis team instead of soccer. All my coaches, teammates, friends, and family were taken aback by this decision. The coaches reminded me of my talent in soccer while my father reminded me of all the money and time that he had poured into my training, but I would not budge on my decision. With soccer I felt too much pressure but with tennis I felt complete freedom. I was free to suck at tennis because I quite frankly had no reputation to uphold. By playing the sport of tennis I did not have to hold the team on my back by protecting the goal and I certainly did not have past successes placing pressure on me.
Below: Picture of me my junior year on the pitch at the College of Coastal Georgia.
The sport of tennis gave me the opportunity to start anew. I fell in love with tennis and the way I felt every time I stepped foot on the court. I loved how I was responsible for my shit and my shit only. I loved the intensity that arose in me with each and every point that I played. Whether I became successful or not was up to me, and it felt good to start from the bottom. By starting at the bottom, I was also able to create my own style of play. I learned to play tennis with two forehands, which was very unusual. Sure, I got criticized by seasoned veterans in the sport for not having a backhand, but I also turned a hell of a lot of heads. People were intrigued by my style of play because it was so different from the norm. The attention that I got by doing my OWN thing was amazing. Also, it just felt amazing to do what I loved in a way that was unique to me. Starting anew by doing what you love gives you this wonderful opportunity to be creative. You have this unique freedom to express yourself however you desire to and that is what makes doing what you love so very worth it. Now I did not turn out to be a professional athlete by any means because, well, that would be too good to be true. I did however get some college offers which eventually lead me to transfer to the college that I attend today.
Below: Picture of me the summer after my freshman year of college when I got offered a spot on the College of Coastal Georgia’s Men’s Tennis Team.
I was able to get a taste of how life should be by choosing to do what I loved rather than sticking with what I was good at because it was familiar. I discovered a sense of freedom in doing what I loved and found myself along the way. I found that life should be about pursuing the things that you love, even if you are not sure that they will turn out the way you expect them to. Choosing to do what you love at least gives you the opportunity to pursue the future that you dream about. Doing what works at a given moment will get you by but doing what you love will energize you to chase your dreams. Don’t just do what works for you, do whatever it is that you love to do.
I am happy to say that I have picked up the sport of soccer again and that I very much enjoy it now. I play on my college’s club team and have some awesome teammates that I consider family. In fact, some of those very teammates helped to re-energize my passion for the sport. Tennis is also still a part of my life, but it is not my sole focus anymore. I enjoy tennis more as a spectator now and occasionally pick up the racquet when I am feeling keen. Moving onward I will continue to do what I love in the sports realm as well as in the rest of my life.
Look out for the next post of this series coming soon.