Friday, February 25, 2011


All coaches (hopefully not just me) have a list of "things perfect coaches say in perfect worlds". One of the many phrases on my list is "you don't need anyone's approval; just knowing you did your best is enough."


We all look for approval. And more often then not, we let that approval -- or lack of -- determine our post-performance attitude. It shouldn't be that way, it's true that knowing you did your best should be enough. But life has never been that simple. Babies look to their parents after falling to determine whether or not they should cry. Elementary students show pictures to their teachers to find out if they're "art". Middle schoolers search the crowd for parents' faces after volleyball serves or free-throws. College-bound seniors look to their coaches for permission to celebrate an astonishing win. And, this weekend, I looked to a friend for approval of a job well done.

It should have been enough that my players were among the top four competitors in a difficult tournament. Or that they showed an improvement in their skills and self-confidence. It should have been enough that parents thanked me and other coaches shook my hand. It should have been enough that I left that tournament smiling and proud of my state-qualifying team.

Instead, my feelings were crushed when my fellow-coach's reaction wasn't excitement. No congratulations or enthusiasm. The face staring back at mine was full of disbelief and annoyance. Instantly my mood changed... all my excitement was gone. My great tournament finish was tarnished.


English majors should not be aloud to text message. We have been taught to take words way to seriously.

I treat every single message like a term paper. I save drafts. I revise. I edit. I ask others to revise. I ask others to edit. I revise again. (I haven't gone so far as to use a Thesaurus... yet.) I stress over every single word and every single punctuation mark. I make every decision intentional. I consider connotations and colloquialisms. I make every character count.

Then, as-if only to make matters worse, I analyze responses. I look for inferences. I carefully read and re-read my inbox. I stress over every single word and every single abbreviation. I consider every possible writing condition. I assume they mean every word.

I blame my degree. I have been taught to write; write well. In college, I honed in on my personal writing process. I know how I write best (quiet space and lots of reading aloud) and what I write best (commentary). As hard as I try, I can't turn the English professor in my head off. I don't know how to write a piece of writing -- even something as simple as a text message -- without preparing an argument for every intentional decision.

Even now as I write, I consider possible improvements and notice my short falls. I struggle to let go of a piece. Once it's out there, it's out there.

It only gets more complicated with my current struggle -- attempting to begin a relationship through text. Once I push send on a text, it's done. No more revisions or chances to explain 'what I really meant'. What if it wasn't witty enough? What if I came off to forward? What if the real me isn't coming across? I badly want to quickly call him up and say all the things I tried to imply -- but, instead, I diligently sit with my eyeballs glued to my phone laying on the desk. And hope for patience.