by USjournal Student Writer: Rebecca Darrup, Cross-Country Cowgirl
Okay, short survey. Ready?
No one else needs to know your answers to those questions, but keep them in the back of your brain for the next few minutes, alright? By the time you get done reading, hopefully you'll be thinking of your answers a little differently.
Mind over matter... If you don't mind, it doesn't matter. I've found several people to whom this quote is attributed, and most of them were discussing the matter of aging, but I think it applies to so much more than age. Honestly, it applies to everything! The mental game aspect of life (sports, classes, and day-to-day life) is a battle we all have to fight each and every day. Some days, you win, some days, you learn -- even though it'll feel like you've lost. The next morning, though, you get to wake up and try it again. Can't get better than that, right? Excuse me for a minute while I give you some background details. I'm going to be brutally honest this time, and I hope that in my sharing this, you find some encouragement.
This control your mind battle is something that I struggle with in a big way.
Friends and strangers alike have told me that they would never have guessed that there was anything wrong in my life, that it seemed like I never struggled with anything. I hate to break it, but that's definitely not the case. There are some days when I have to argue myself out of bed because of a conversation that I'm still over-thinking from the previous day, or my to-do list is so long I don't know if it can get done in three days, never mind one. Why does it seem that teachers always schedule their big assignments at the same time? Sometimes, I'll be about to rope my calf at practice and catch myself thinking about something that a teammate said to me that I wasn't sure how to take -- Did he really mean it the way I understood him? How are we all of a sudden not able to get along, when we used to be almost inseparable just because we worked so well together? And what do I do about the girl who's mad at me and won't say it to my face? I can't fix my mistake (that I didn't even think was a mistake!) if she won't tell me about it! And why in the world do people like to watch scary movies? Those things stick in my head for days and creep me out!
All of this (and more) accumulates in my mind until it's spinning like it's about to blow apart. I can honestly tell you that I've texted or called my Mom probably 10 times in the last six days on the verge of panic for her to help me calm down and get my head on straight.
Life can be overwhelming -- that's the world we live in. It's the choices you make when you're at the end of your rope that define who you are, though, and it's a whole lot easier when you focus on who and what you are, rather than how you feel. I promise. When you feel that panic in your chest (and I think we all do at some point), you have to decide if you're going to give in to it, or if you're going to step up and own it. You lift your head up, make a plan, and stick to it. Allow room for error, and for change, but re-set your eyes on your end goal, and get back to it. When you make a mistake, focus on getting back to the right thing, rather than wasting more time worrying about the fact that you did mess up. You're human; you're going to make mistakes and that's okay. Fix them the best you can, and keep going. Never underestimate the power of a sincere and simple "I'm sorry", and realize that you have to apologize to yourself sometimes too. For example, I'm sitting in my trailer right now before the first college rodeo of the semester, apologizing to myself for the overwhelming to-do list I gave to myself last week and for the fact that the most sleep I've gotten all week was last night at the rodeo grounds.
Push yourself as hard as you can, absolutely. Whatever you commit to doing, even if you're only committing to yourself, you owe it to yourself and everyone else to give it all you can, and then some. None of us were put in this world for mediocre. If you say you're going to do something, you give it 110% until it's all done, not until you're sick of it. Do it right, or not at all. When you're done with a task, you should be able to walk away with your head high knowing that there was nothing you could have done any better. Get it done, and let it be done. Focus on one thing at a time, and you'll snap right through your list.
Know your limits! No matter how many college kids tell you they pull all-nighters every night, believe me when I tell you they're the ones sleeping through their alarms and through class. Know when your schedule is full, and you literally cannot take on one more task. If you are honest with yourself and others, no one is going to be upset with you for it, and if they are, that's their problem, not yours.
On that note: Know when to walk away from people. Even your best friends can get under your skin sometimes. Learn from my mistakes: You can't change people, you can't make them make the right / best choice, and you can't make them see your heart. Life gets a whole lot easier when you understand and accept that. To the best I've figured so far, you love them anyways, but sometimes from a distance. Not everyone will see things the way you do, and that's the way the world is because we all come from different places. I mean, how many girls go from Pennsylvania to New Mexico and change their residency, with their three horses and a dog? Anyway, you don't need everyone's acceptance. You have to do what is best for you. Live your life the best you can, and set an example. People notice that far more than they remember what you told them to do, and how often does "Do as I say, not as I do" work anyway? Be brave enough to be different for doing things right, working hard, helping others, and smiling at the small things.
Life is going to throw you curve balls. It likes to try to get you off your game. It doesn't tell you when batting practice is. But if you pay attention, there will be batting practice. It'll probably be on a late night / early morning schedule, and you'll be expected just to know and show up. You have to know that no matter what happens, you don't mind, because you're going to get through it and be a better person for it. You have to decide that when things go wrong (or just not how you expected them to), or someone catches you off-guard with something you don't like, you're not going to let it rattle you. When you get home at night, process it then. Write about it, talk to someone you can trust, pray about it, or talk to yourself in the mirror -– whatever works for you. Don't hold it all inside; get it out somehow. When life throws those crazy practices at you, smirk at it, take a deep breath, and know you can be better than life expected you to be. It's difficult, not impossible. You're strong enough to handle anything, because after all, if you don't mind, it doesn't matter.
Here are Rebecca's other posts, in case you missed them:
Best of luck in all your endeavors,
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