“Oops! Sorry!” I apologized to my new partner, a complete stranger who was experiencing my ability to totally whiff the ball for the first time.
“You don’t need to apologize to me. That’s the way the game is played…we get some and we miss some.” She shrugged as if it was no big deal.
“Okay. Thanks!” I said with a sheepish grin. Three seconds later… “Dang it! What am I doing?!” I toss the ball to the other team having cost us the serve again.
Again she shrugged, “It’s alright. It is just for fun…no one cares.”
But how could they not care? It isn’t a fun game when you don’t even have a volley, where the game is over so quickly because one team scores all the points. How is it fun for your partner if you keep messing up their chance of getting to score a point or even serve? I had to do better, be better. I needed to stop messing things up not just for me but for everyone else. Pretty soon people would dread having me around.
And there it was…the deep-seeded fear of not be wanted or even liked. Fearing the inability to contribute anything helpful or worthwhile to a group because I wasn’t good enough.
As I continued to play with strangers throughout the night, one after another, their kindness became something tangible that I could hold and keep as my own. Their encouraging words became my own self-talk. Soon I could let my mistakes roll off of my shoulders instead of clinging to them and trying to make up for them at every turn. I began to see that I wasn’t my mistakes and I wasn’t wanted for my perfection. I didn’t have to apologize for being human. Playing this way taught me the practice of carrying it all lightly. Who would have thought that playing a sport would be the thing that taught me to shut up the inner critic and embrace my imperfections?
As you go out into the world today, try arming yourself with an inner cheerleader instead of an inner critic. Know that you don’t have to earn your way to being loved. You are loved in and through your imperfections and all of your mistakes. And maybe even go out and play a little pickleball!
About the Author: Julie Glaser is a healer who creates sacred spaces for people to share, release, and grow. She’s in the habit of being in awe and wonder and writes to share her own experiences and learnings with other inquisitive souls in the process of transforming.