Tomorrow is the start of the ROK-U Spring season. It will mark a bunch of firsts for Kris and I. Our team, the Wonju Knights, will be playing our first games together. It will be our first set of games as captain and assistant captain. It will be my first true trial as a handler. How do I feel. PUMPED!
Over the past few days, however, I have been feeling less than enthused for the weekend’s festivities. This may strike you, the reader, as odd. Regular readers will know that Ultimate is one of the things that has kept me going in Korea. I enjoy almost every aspect of it, from the challenge of competition to, sometimes, talking to other human beings about mutual interests (gasp).
Despite the many draws that I have to Ultimate, I always feel profoundly disinterested and disheartened in the days leading up to any major event. I feel useless at the game when I think about the people that I will be playing with and against. I perpetually bring myself down by how bad at the game I perceive myself to be. At many points, I flat out consider not going, so my team will be better off without me.
In my heart, I know that these thoughts are largely unfounded. Sure, I’m not the most experienced, skilled, fastest, fittest, or smartest player on the field. Sure, I might make a play that might cost my team the game. I may also be hit in the temple with a small stone flung from a fellow player’s foot and die.
Before every major sporting or competitive event, I travel down the roads of ‘What If?’ and ‘I’m Not Worthy’. These treks to Downertown are bad habits that I haven’t quite been able to shake.
What Ultimate has allowed me to do is grapple with and fight off these thoughts on a more regular basis. By no means do I avoid them completely. I still make myself feel like I have less aptitude for my pursuits than a slug has for playing the guitar. But I am also doing it for far less time than I used to. The self-shaming used to last several days, sometimes longer than a week. I would just feel like dirt, and I used to associate this with things that I love. This, of course, is less than optimal use of my emotional resources.
Over the past year and a bit, I have become far more self-aware, particularly of my negative habits. I still tend to gloss over my positive character traits. Nevertheless, I am working on it, and Ultimate has helped me do so. By dealing with this problem more often, I have been able to detach the negative emotions from the activity itself. I now know that it is just maladaptive behaviour that I need to rectify.
What this dissociation has helped me to do is get over it far more rapidly, and get back on the hype train more readily. A year ago, the night before an Ultimate weekend, I would be running through the possible illnesses I could fake in order to get out of it without losing face with my friends. Now, while the negative thoughts still linger, I try and focus on the positive. I try to see more angels, and fewer demons.
Apart from the more frequent resolution of my inner conflict, the other major help in this regard has been Kris. She has gotten my lazy, self-hating butt out of bed more times than I can count. Previously, when my activities weren’t ones I shared with Kris, it was far easier to skip. Now, she holds me accountable. And it has helped me climb the mountain of self-positivity.
So, here I sit, feeling not-so-down and amped for tomorrow’s play. We may win, we may lose. We will finally get our swag kit that we have been waiting for for weeks. Most importantly, I will have fun with people I enjoy spending time with, playing the sport we all love. I may be average at best at it, but that won’t stop me having a great weekend.