For as long as I could remember, it was my dream to be apart of Webber International's Bowling program, and to win a national championship; to represent one of the best bowling programs in the country; to be the best bowler I could be. Although most of you probably don't bowl, I'm sure you know what it's like to want to be apart of something so great and so special. To stay up at night thinking of how bad you want it, and then finally be part of it. I signed with Webber my senior year of high school. Now I'm going into my junior year of college, not bowling for Webber, and transferring schools. A lot of people told me that I "gave up" on my dreams and the program, but in reality, if I stayed, I would have been giving up on myself.
The program is a lot of work, time, and dedication, which I did not mind giving, at first. As any athlete knows, you can be your own worst enemy sometimes, and getting over the critical comments that run thorough your head can be hard for some people- it sure as hell was for me. But we practiced Monday through Friday, for at least two to three hours as a team, if not more, and had our own individual practice twice a week that you picked based on your schedule. We have the best tools, the best coaches to walk this earth, the best bowlers coming in and out, and even work in that building we trained at. Kegel is truly something special. You'll always learn something walking through those doors.
It can be exhausting working on something for hours and hours every day you walk in for practice. And for months you're working on the same thing, yet still trying to compete. Bowling is one of those sports where you need a good physical game, but your mental game is crucial and it could make or break you as a competitive athlete. Some days I was so pissed off with myself I left immediately after practice, and there were others I didn't want to leave and I wanted to keep learning and working on my game. After a while, you felt like you just needed a break, like a mental health day, but we don't take breaks like that. We pushed through, that's what made us mentally strong- or at least most of us. If you even tried to say that you need a break, someone would tell you work harder. You sat down for a minute? Might be a minute too long in someone else's eyes and you'd get "we all have work we gotta do, sitting down won't help". Injuries can be taken two ways: you either sit out and don't make it worse, or learn to push through the pain because that's all post seasons is about- pushing through the pain and grinding it out.
I red shirted my first year. I not only had a wrist injury, but I honestly lacked the confidence to compete and represent the team. It was also a very transitional time for me that involved a lot of change I neglected to face. My parents moved from one state to another, and I was never ready to say goodbye to my friends and family. I had to break up with such an extraordinary guy because I never knew when I would see him next, and it killed me. I took out my anger and sadness on those who were trying to be my friend and help me. I ruined friendships, hurt a lot of people, and eventually realized I wasn't okay and I had to get my shit together. Just because I felt miserable at the time, doesn't mean I should have let everyone feel it too. After what was intended to be a conversation turned into screaming and crying at each other, someone who was my friend, roommate, and has great leadership characteristics on the team, helped me realize that it's time to do better and be better. I worked my ass off the whole summer on my game, and getting back to the Jen everyone knew and loved.
Sophomore year was my "second chance" on the team. The year started off great; I was nice and friendly with everyone, felt more apart of the team, did what I was told, and didn't get involved with drama. It was a good start to what I thought would be a fantastic year. It wasn't until the thought of doubt filled my head again, and I had a tough time mentally accepting that I wasn't bad. I'm a perfectionist, and it's my biggest weakness. I felt like everything had to be done perfectly, and if it wasn't, I was upset for days until I finally got it right. It got to the point where I would dread going to tournaments because I felt like an embarrassment to the team, program, my parents, and myself. I know none of this is true, but I couldn't help but feel that way. I started to get into a bad place of unhappiness and constant stress and anxiety. Regardless of the fact that I was in a toxic relationship for a year with someone I met at college, he told me multiple times that he felt the program wasn't good for my mental health. Actually, my best friends from back home have told me that as well. But I kept thinking "I don't wanna be the girl who quits", and yet again "I don't want to be a disappointment to *insert name here*".
Varsity Girls, Varsity Boys, JV Boys1 & 2
It took a lot of time, thought, and talking, to realize that I can no longer be apart of something I've always wanted. As much as I wanted it, it was deteriorating my confidence, self love, and much more. It's quite an odd feeling of relief; that I've admitted I can't be apart of this dream of mine anymore. I realized that I wasn't happy with the education, or lack of, that I was getting. I didn't like being in the middle of nowhere in a college that has less kids than my high school had. And I didn't like how unhappy I was. My mental health took a major toll and it was becoming very obvious. My mom has alway told me I was made to do great things. I felt like I was at a dead end, like there was nothing left for me to take, rather I was being taken from. The environment I was in was toxic for me to be in. I felt like I could no longer grow, change, and be the best I can be. If I were to stay, I would be giving up; I would be giving up on my new dreams, my aspirations, my career, etc.
Just because I quit doesn't mean I failed, or gave up on myself. It takes courage to walk away from something that was once all you've ever wanted. I have always preached to "do what makes you happy" so I applied to a school I've admired for a while, and I will be pushing myself to do better, to be better, to be apart of something bigger than anything I've been apart of before. We're humans, we're constantly changing, and it's okay for your dreams to change too. I'm thankful for the support of my family and close friends who have stuck by my side through it all. I wouldn't be where I am today without such outstanding people in my life.