Baseball On My Brain

Disappointment vs. Discouragement
November 23, 2008, 1:22 am
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There is this really fine line that I find myself walking on or near a good amount of the time. It’s the line that exists between disappointment and discouragement, and it’s a line that I need to be critically aware of which side I’m on.

Life is – or at least can be, depending on your outlook – full of disappointment. The weather didn’t work out, you didn’t get the job you applied for, that cute guy or girl didn’t think your line was funny. The car broke down, the lottery ticket wasn’t a winner, or you didn’t get your to-do list done.

Things like this are all around, pushing me, dragging me, taunting me right up to this line between disappointment and discouragement.

What is so important about this line? On the other side of this line is where disappointment wins – it’s where the spirit gets weakened, where self esteem turns into self doubt, and where self doubt turns into a lack of motivation, motivated by a fear of failure.

That place is discouragement. It’s where fear rules, bravery and courage suffocate and die, self doubt thrives and risk is to be avoided at all costs.

It’s a pretty miserable place to be, because it’s where I become afraid to go to the plate and swing at a pitch. It’s where I become afraid to take my foot off of first base out of fear that I’ll be picked off. Or round second base hard and go for third because I don’t want to be that guy who got thrown out trying to be what some will label as greedy or aggressive.

It’s said that certain people lack motivation. I believe that statement is absolutely false. Those people who some think lack motivation only lack the right kind of motivation. Those people who are talked about have plenty of motivation – it’s just a motivation rooted in avoidance of failure rather than embrace of success.

And let me be the first to raise my hand and say that’s how I’ve spent a good majority of my life. I wish I knew whether it was something I learned, or rather, something I never learned, but somehow the fear of failure and the feelings of rejection and loss of self worth that comes with it are things I truly have yet to overcome.

So how does this all fit into this blog that is supposed to be baseball related?

First, I have to constantly remind myself that baseball is a sport that baseball is a sport rooted almost entirely in failure. The best hitters will fail close to seven times out of ten…pitchers are measured by how far away from perfect they are.

As fans, it feels like we’re constantly rooting for our team to dodge the inevitable failure and somehow, just this once, finally this year, triumph. Whether it be to strikeout the hitter, or avoid the strikeout and get a hit, it’s hard to push back against the feelings of doubt and fear.

But baseball challenges each and every one of us to do just that: put that last strikeout behind me and get in the batter’s box again and take another swing.

But how do I work up the belief in myself to get back up there?

Is it a matter of simply blocking out every failure and focusing solely on my triumphs? Do I have to lie to myself and say that success is the only option? Or is it something else?

I wish I knew. That’s one lesson I haven’t learned yet.


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