Heartbreak is Alright
In my previous posts, I have mentioned how my college career has given me the highest of high’s and lowest of low’s. It is no understatement to say that college tennis has broken my heart time and time again. When one has high expectations, fully invests themselves into something, and/or just simply really believes in a cause, he/she sets himself/herself up for potential heartbreak. Although disappointment hurts sometimes more than anything, it can be twisted to be something invaluable. You cannot be disappointed if you do not care, and caring is a good thing. To be good at anything in life you have to be invested. Instead of being afraid of the heartbreak, embrace that it comes with any endeavor worth having or any goal worth achieving. Feel lucky that you possess something so important. Being vulnerable in this way is not a weakness, but a sign of ambition.
Invaluable Experience: In my junior year, I lost the Final Four deciding match against our big rival UCLA in a 3 hour battle at Athens, Georgia. The moment I lost match point, I remember seeing my opponent’s teammates tackle and dance around her in front of my eyes. It was the most miserable feeling in the world. After shaking hands, I sat on my bench, buried my face in my towel, and cried. My body was aching so bad from exhaustion and I was not sure whether I was shaking because I was crying so hard or because I was on the verge of a full body cramp (maybe both). Nevertheless, I could not move from that bench. As UCLA continued to celebrate their win, I sat listening to their cheers and their band play. Later that night, I promised myself that I would never lose a big match again, because I cannot stand the feeling of letting my teammates down.
Fast forward the following year, in my senior season, I had grown especially close to my teammates. Having had a taste of success the previous year by upsetting Stanford and making it to the Final Four, we were hungry to go all the way this time. Leading up to the NCAA event, we were no longer underdogs as we were last year, but actual contenders. Teams were vying to take us down, and we knew it. All year long we had established this culture of “winning a team title.” Everything we did was for a team championship. The previous year, we saw our men’s team win a championship for the fourth year in a row, and wanted to have a moment like that to share with each other. Being a team captain and senior on the team, I had watched the men win every single year I was at USC and wanted nothing more than a team title. In the Sweet 16, we were matched up against Stanford. Down 2-3 in the dual match, there were two matches left on court, one of which was mine. I was again stuck in a 3 set marathon and found myself lagging behind in the final set. Down 3-4 in the match, with points to go down 3-5, I dug so deep knowing that I promised to never let my teammates down again. Somehow pulling that match out 6-4 in the third was one of the proudest moments of my life. I thought after winning my match, the magic was going to happen again, but unfortunately, our last match on could not pull through and Stanford ran away with the victory (and the championship for that matter).
I fell from Cloud 9 so fast within 15 minutes. Although I did not lose the deciding match this time around, I knew I just competed in the last dual match of my life. I had not anticipated on making this short a run at the NCAA Team Event and I would have given anything for that day to have been just a nightmare. As I picked up my stuff from my court, I kept wishing I would wake up from this nasty dream, because I was nowhere near ready to say goodbye. All year I had envisioned hosting that trophy with my teammates and to have ended our journey in this fashion was a complete disaster in my eyes. Later that night, I sat in my hotel room and contemplated on why I set myself up to feel this way. I felt so awful inside and I compared that feeling to being dumped by a long term boyfriend unexpectedly. I kept telling myself that I should not have filled my head with those expectations nor cared so much. Beating myself left and right with my thoughts, I then get a text message from my old coach Dave Hagler saying a few comforting things, but one of which was, “It cannot break your heart if you did not love it.” After thinking about that over and over again for the next few days, I realized that by caring you give yourself a fair chance to do something great.
Although there are not guarantees that something great will happen, you maximize your chances. If something really means that much to you, it is worth the heartbreak. I am usually one to downplay the extremity of things and I hate over exaggerating, but if there is one thing I will never dummy down it is my love for the game. Looking back on the college years, I am very fond of my experience as a whole, even the low points, because the high’s do not mean the same without them. College tennis was worth every heartbreak it has given me. I loved my experience so much that it was the saddest thing to part with. The first few months after my final season were a real struggle (which is why I started this blog in the first place). I am still not over it
, but I am okay with that now. I am okay with missing that part of my life that I desperately want back, but instead of moping about how life sucks, I just smile about how it all actually happened. I now look back on all my college moments with great fondness, feeling so lucky that I had something so hard to say goodbye to.