At 2:00pm during the week, you’ll often find my teammates and I gathered in my coach’s office. Some of us on the floor, some in the chairs, some peeping and hovering in from the hallway. We’re often laughing at someone’s silly mistake or ranting about the academic struggle, but almost always in good spirits. It is sometimes in the half hour before 2pm or the hour after practice is over that you might sense a different feeling.
Though being in good spirits all the time would be nice, we often have other feelings we experience. As I write, I think I can speak for most of my teammates when I say that sometimes it’s tearful vulnerability shed just before the whole team arrives at 2 o’ clock or once they’ve all left. Sometimes life isn’t a piece of cake with icing on top. Sometimes life leaves us dumbfounded and unsure of which step to take next. But if you aren’t there in those moments before or after, you might never know what some of us are really going through (Unless it’s one of my days when it’s written all over my face). That’s the thing though… We are walking facades.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had my own fair share of challenges whether others knew it or not. I’ve also had many encounters with teammates, friends, and peers with their own challenges, that I often didn’t even realize they were struggling with.
Sometimes the facade fails. Like when I try to hold it together in front of my teammates until my anxiety makes me restless, my fears keep me quiet, and I barely laugh at my usually, hilarious coach. When the facade fails, I feel defeated. In the moments I’ve broken down in front of them, especially my younger teammates, I’ve felt embarrassed and weak. “You seriously can’t hold it together for two seconds?” I think to myself. But maybe in those moments, breaking down showed more strength than the tough workouts we endure every week. Maybe seeing the release of overwhelming emotions inspires those who, too, bottle it up inside, hiding behind their own facade.
Growing up and even now, when I’ve seen teachers, professors, mentors, or role models cry or express feelings of sadness, though heartbreaking, I’ve felt some kind of relief. How incredibly human these individuals are? I had this relieving feeling that it’s okay not to have it all together every moment of every single day. When the facade seemingly failed, it actually succeeded in the art of vulnerability. Maybe this form of being entirely human in front of others is what we REALLY need to see every once in a while. The facade can make us forget we’re human.
Almost a month ago, I began writing this post and refused to come back to it until I had some happy ending of how everything is great now. So realistic… am I right or amIrite? Wrong. Everything is not magically great and here some of you are, wondering how because I’m still putting on a facade most days. (I’ve actually been more honest in person so maybe you aren’t LOL). Anyway, it will always be a work-in-progress for many of us. It’s extremely difficult to be vulnerable, especially when you don’t feel like you have a valid reason for the emotions you feel. However, each step you take towards letting your guard down and being true to the insides of you, I promise you will make strides. I don’t always see it for myself, but so many people have reminded me that I have. You have to remind yourself of that too. We are human and flawed, but so intrinsically real. Why not embrace it?