Tomorrow’s the day. My first tennis match in a year. Butterflies? Maybe one or two.
I shouldn’t have any butterflies at all. My league has decreed that this strange, once-(hopefully)-in-a-lifetime pandemic season won’t “count.” A year from now, when the 2021-2 season begins, it’ll be like 2020 never happened. Don’t you wish you could say that about all aspects of this year?
But I’m a little nervous anyway because, for me, the pressure isn’t usually about winning. Don’t get me wrong—I don’t want to lose. In fact, my fear of losing outweighs my desire to win, which is its own problem and probably merits a blog post of its own.
For me, the pressure is more about fear of annoying people with poor play. (What snappy acronym should we use for this phenomenon? FOA? FOAP? FOAPPP?)
FOA sufferers struggle with the fear of letting down and annoying their doubles partners. And annoying their teammates. Even annoying their opponents. We’re all out there for fun, and if someone on the court can’t keep the ball in play, that’s annoying even when you’re the beneficiary of those mistakes.
So don’t make mistakes, right? Seems like a simple solution.
Only I’m still the same head case I always was.
Only I haven’t shaken off all the rust from the last year.
Only I’m learning a new forehand and it definitely isn’t ready for prime time.
Only because of FOA, I’m hyper-conscious of these issues which makes it even more likely that I’ll screw up.
In the end, it’s only that last only that really matters. To play well, I need to walk on the court without expectations and without fear. Almost without a consciousness at all. I have to not be the person that I’m hyper-aware of being, and instead be some other person, or no person at all. I have to be a ball-striking machine.
A flabby, middle-aged ball-striking machine.
Can I do that? Can I turn off my busy brain and just hit the damn ball?
I’ll let you know tomorrow…
Hmm. FOA isn’t as catchy as FOMO. I need a better acronym. How about FOPOP: Fear of Pissing Off People? Who’s up for an acronym challenge? Anyone who comes up with a better acronym than FOPOP wins a can of tennis balls. (Contest judge: me. Contest rules: none. Contest deadline: Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. In the event of no winner, or entries, prize will be upgraded to a new tennis outfit and awarded to me as coiner of the unbeatable FOPOP.)