Yesterday will go down in the record books as a pretty crappy day overall.
I was in a funk. But like my friend Amy said......I needed to break out of my funk and just be funky.
Words of wisdom.
Last night was the first week of my Wednesday night four-on-four volleyball league. It's pretty casual - we keep score but don't keep records. It's mostly women my age (28) and older and many of them are moms of school-age children. The play is pretty competitive BUT at the same time there is lots of compassion and grace provided when you're having an "off" night. It's been my haven after Natalie's birth - the place where I can go on Wednesday nights and feel like myself. Nothing helps me work out a rough day like hitting and serving a volleyball.
Last night was no different.
But this post is not about how much I love the game nor is it about the resolutions to yesterday's problems. It's about perception. More importantly - how am I perceived by others.
My friend and co-worker Shemika and I have had this conversation tons of times - to people who do not know me, I can come across as stuck-up, snobby and conceited. Yes. She told me that. To my face. But luckily she followed it up with - but it's because they don't know you. Apparently because I am tall (6'0 flat footed), carry myself with confidence, and am at first a bit shy and reserved when meeting new people.....this is perceived as a snooty, stuck-up person. I am self aware enough to see how this might be true.
But yet....when it comes to certain things, I AM confident. I know that I'm a great volleyball player - I've got a fantastic build for the sport, I can hit and serve hard, I play smart and I am great at encouraging others on the court. But if you ask me to dance, sing, act in front of a crowd of people? NO. WAY. JOSE. That's just not the gift God granted me.
Last night I put all my frustration into playing and I had a great game. There was one play where the ball was falling right on the net and I went up against another tall player on the other team and "jousted" for control of the ball. I got to the ball first and tipped it to the side of the other player....and actually it was going out of bounds (not the smartest tipping spot on my part, but I was trying not to tip it directly into the defense). There was a smaller build player standing right there and since the ball was coming directly at her she passed it up. When the play ended, the ball landed on the other team's side and my team got the point. The short player looked at me and said jokingly (but in that kidding-but-not-really-kidding way) "why do you always hit the ball right at me?" How do I answer that? I just said "the ball was going out of bounds, you didn't have to play it." Later after a good hit (that went right at this player) she said it again "geez! I think you're aiming directly at me! What did I ever do to you?!" Again in that kidding-but-not-really kind of way. This is par for course with this girl and quite frankly.....it gets annoying so I answered her with "I just hit the ball - if it comes at you just pass it up instead of ducking."
I know. Not the gentlest or most compassionate thing to say.
But I get tired of the Napoleon complex this person seems to have. I don't walk onto the court thinking I'm better than other people. I play every Wednesday so I can have one hour of ME time away from the hubs, the baby and the pup. I don't play so that I can prove to everyone that I'm a badass.....although sometimes that's just a byproduct of my athleticism. ;)
So I guess her perception is that I'm cocky. That I'm the player to beat. That if she can pass my hits and my serves, it means she's a good player too. And even if the truth is that I'm a good player, her perception of my cockiness is not the reality in my heart. I am confident in my own skills but I also know that on any given week there will be someone who is better than me.....and that's okay because that makes me work harder.
I don't know how to change other people's perception of me because where do you draw the line? I am proud of my athletic ability becasue it's obviously a gift that God granted me and I enjoy putting it to use. And when you combine confidence with my reserved personality around people I don't know that well.....I guess the perception is cockiness and snobbery.
I suppose the bottom line is this: haters gonna hate.
But seriously. She can have her perception of me and believe that I think I'm better than everyone else - maybe that's just her own self-image issues manifesting itself. I don't know. I can't control what other people think of me. All I can do is keep showing up to play a game that I love and encouraging my teammates along the way.