Last Thursday, I played soccer for the first time in my entire life. I wish this was the beginning of one of those stories where the subject finds a hidden talent and discovers an unknown passion and true gift for the sport.
This is not one of those stories.
The one thing I discovered at last Thursday’s division III women’s social club soccer match is that there is a reason I’ve never played the sport before. I am absolutely terrible at soccer. I wasn’t just a little awkward. I was an all-out trainwreck.
I didn’t sign up for club soccer from the beginning. I think deep down, part of me knew that it would be a travesty. However, our club was in need of substitute players this one particular evening, and I offered to stand in. In all honesty, I was convinced the game wouldn’t happen; there was a high probability of rain all Thursday evening, and I assumed the game would be cancelled.
I’ll spare you the dismal details of my ineptitude; it wasn’t a pretty sight. I totally missed the ball most times it was passed to me, and one of our opponents told me I was offsides multiple times, whatever that means.
We ended up losing by six goals, which apparently is a pretty big deficit in soccer. I’m convinced the game would have been much closer had I not been on the field, but my teammates were graciously forgiving, and I walked off the field head held high with a smile on my face.
I learned several lessons that night. First and foremost: soccer is hard. Not only do you run non-stop (ew), but you also have to be coordinated enough to control something with only your feet. It is essentially impossible. Second: rain does not necessarily equate to the cancellation of club sports. Third: anything can be fun if you surround yourself with positive people and decide to have a good time.
I learned one final lesson last Thursday, and this was certainly the toughest pill to swallow: I’m not going to be good at everything, and that’s OK. For my whole life, I’ve felt like I have to be the best at everything. Ever since I won the second-grade county spelling bee, anything beneath first place has seemed like failure.
Thursday night was an important reminder that life isn’t a competition. There are competitive aspects, certainly; I lost that soccer game, fair and square. But life in its entirety is not a contest. We all have at least one thing we’re really good at, and at least 17 things we’re really bad at.
As hundreds of alumni return to campus and many organizations and clubs celebrate the weekend with various reunions and activities, let’s remember that Homecoming is not about who has the best tailgate or whose club was the coolest back in the day. Homecoming is a celebration, not a competition. We all have strengths; we all have weaknesses. Our individual differences are what make life interesting and what make Homecoming such a special event.
So, if you’re ever in need of an extra soccer player, put me in coach! I definitely won’t be much help, but I’ll certainly give it my best shot, kicking and screaming.