|Warriors in Training|
When I was in grad school, I didn't have many visitors because it was a long drive and there was not a lot to do in the middle of Ohio. So I saw my family and friends infrequently, and every time I said good-bye I felt this overwhelming sadness--and not just because I wouldn't see them for a long time. I was also sad because when I was with them, I was completely myself, and I rarely felt free to be myself.
Part of the problem was that the feeling of being different followed me well into my adult years. I wasn't like the other grad students. I watched reruns of The Flintstones and Gillian's Island rather than keeping up with what Koresh was doing in Waco. I wasn't spending 70-80 hours a week on grad school stuff. I didn't listen to the right music, didn't hang out at the cool coffee places.
I moved around a lot during that time, too. While I was with my first husband, we moved almost every year because he was never happy where we were--which turned out to be more about him than our location. Still, I didn't mind the excuse to not get too close to anyone.
When I finally moved back to Virginia and became a part of the tennis community here, I was a little freaked out. There was no way I could avoid being a part of the gossip, what with my failed marriages and all. Plus, I only dated tennis players, so everyone knew who they were. I had no place to hide; giving up tennis was not an option. I had to let people know what I was really like.
Of all the gifts that tennis has given me, my tennis family is the best one of all. These are the only other people who I can be myself around without obsessing afterwards about what I said or did. They have seen me throw up on the court. They've been there when I've gotten kicked out of restaurants for being too loud. They don't judge me for always being hungry and constantly having to pee. They don't expect me to make anything for potluck dinners because they know I can't cook. (But I do bring the Karaoke and board games.) They even indulge my grandiosity by calling me the Queen.
Often the feedback I get about my blog is about how honest I am. In an I wouldn't do it, but good for you! kind of way. I'm tired of hiding. I spent the first half of my life trying to be like everyone else. I want to spend the second half being myself.