As a sports fan, I read my fair share of sporting news, mostly in short spurts as I make my way through the day. I love sports for what they can teach us, how they bond us in community, and even for what they help us escape for just a little while. I am forever a fan of the underdog, the humble warrior, and the life lessons that come from the work put in in the hours before the spectators and fans are a part of the game. No matter the sport, who wins and loses is less important to me than the story behind the athlete or team that is in the battle. The Players Tribune, an online media platform where the athletes write stories about their life experiences and what they learn from them, is one of my favorites places to get to the story behind the story. If you are a sports fan, a life lesson fan, or just a fan of good writing, check them out and prepare to be inspired.
I’ve probably mentioned before that one of my biggest struggles in writing is believing that i have a story worth telling. From the time I was a kid, I have had (for lack of a better word) a ‘guilt complex’ because I was born in California to two loving parents, with a roof over my head and people to love who love me back. Success on this paved road that I have walked my entire life is easier than for those that walk a narrow dirt path on the edge of the mountain or a congested highway full of potholes. Knowing this, I have felt less than inclined to speak up. My life certainly hasn’t been without struggle, but to keep it in perspective, my struggles pale in comparison to so many other life experiences out there. In working through my perspective on this, and becoming braver with my voice, I’ve come to understand that all I can do is honor my God given talents with hard work, look for where I can be of service to others, and be real in working on my weaknesses. I know now that just because I have been abundantly blessed, perfection is not a mandate, and striving, learning and authenticity is at the heart of the good life.
As I read an article from NBC Sports about one of my favorite athletes, Kerri Walsh Jennings, the other day, telling her story of her quest for Tokyo 2020, impending retirement, and her new volleyball/music/health and wellness movement, P1440, chills rose on my arms when I read this quote:
“It’s so liberating when your weaknesses are exposed, when you live your worst nightmare and survive.” -Kerri Walsh Jennings
Here, one of the world’s greatest athletes is getting to the heart of the struggle to be real in this world. No matter the work we put in, or the talents and circumstances we are blessed with, we all have weaknesses and things we can work to improve. Our stories are not for comparison, but they are there for inspiration and learning from one another. Only when our weaknesses are exposed are we liberated to do the work to improve. When we are hiding our weakness from the world, too much time and effort goes into concealing instead of improving, not to mention the harm we can do to ourselves and others when we can’t come to terms with the realities of our own struggle. Our world becomes smaller and sadly, so does our impact to do good in a world that really needs us. I've learned this firsthand walking the road of Matthew's developmental struggles and most recently coming to terms with the effects of my split family. There is so much greatness though when we are vulnerable enough to show weakness, we find our tribe…the people who see our beauty within our struggle. They are there to collaborate, support, love, and provide inspiration for the journey.
Once again, the game of life doing what it does for me, wrapping up universal truth in competition and entertainment. The challenge…be real, struggles and all, the naysayers will still be there to strengthen our resolve but the tribe we discover when we are real is worth it’s weight in gold