Fear (and the Acronym Challenge)

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.)

11 thoughts on “Fear (and the Acronym Challenge)

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  1. You are not flabby, and maybe not middle aged (that is debatable) but you are a ball-striking machine. I think one useful construct to manage the angst (because I too can be exhibit A for “head case”) is to make the play about you and the ball, and everything else is a blur (except of course your partner). It’s all about the ball … and the fun. No more, no less 🙂

  2. Let’s go with FODO – Fear of disappointing others. FOMOM – Fear of making others mad. HOFOMOM – Hatred of fear of making others mad.
    Oh here’s one: HOFOMOMSNANA – Hatred of fear of making others mad so need a new acronym. That’s my favorite.

  3. I’ll give you a better acronym — my new meditation: Breathe in, PROGRESS. Breathe out, PERFECTION.

    — BIP BOP —

    (Like you’re welcoming progress and you’re gently sending away your need for perfection…) GO GET ‘EM!!!

  4. How about FOTMM? Fear of Too Many Mistakes. But just remember…. a bad day of tennis still beats a good day of laundry. Have fun and good luck!

  5. I do the same thing; the head game is the hardest part. You ARE a ball-striking machine, but more importantly, you’re a supportive, cooperative, positive and often hilarious partner. That’s what makes tennis fun, not the percentage of shots made. Have fun today!

  6. FM/AM
    Flabby middle aged machine

    Only that’s me, not you.
    Only I lied about the middle aged 😅

    So glad you conquered your acronyms and had a great match.

  7. I can totally relate, Deb. For me, though, it’s less FOPOP or FOMOM and more FOOEY (pronounced “phooey”): Fear of Overthinking and Embarrassing Yourself.”

    1. I hate to admit it, but FOOEY is an excellent acronym. Maybe better than FOPOP. Maybe I won’t be getting a tennis outfit after all. 😦

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