I had the same dream since I was eight years old.
I wanted to play softball for The University of Tennessee.
I didn’t know how the college playing worked, or how I was even going to get there to play. I didn’t know it cost money to go to school, and I didn’t know it would cost me around forty thousand a year to stay. I didn’t know my family wasn’t going to be able to come visit, or that going from my public high school to college would take a lot of adjusting that I wouldn’t be able to handle alone. I didn’t know that it would be like a full time job, and that I would be tired and sore everyday. All I knew is that I had a dream, and I was going to achieve it.
I worked my tail off for ten years after that. Always being the best, nothing less. So when I found out that they had already chosen their freshmen class my senior year, I cried so much. But I had gotten accepted into the school, and I had made up my mind that I was going to go. I had a coach and mentor who knew them on a more personal level than I did, and he was able to convince the coaches to meet with me. That very day, I was on the team.
Everything was fine at first. My G.I Bill was rolling in, my scholarship had applied, my loans were not much but anything would be a blessing. I went to all the practices, the meetings, and the events I was supposed to go to. I met a group of talented girls, and even got to work with my idol! We had to attend a study hall eight hours a week, so my grades were fine. I also had met a set of rad people, so I had friends too.
Now, the whole time since I even wanted to go, my dad warned me that I wouldn’t have enough money to go unless I got enough scholarships to cover it. I had applied to several but I only won one. One. I also applied to a plethora of other schools. Schools I could have easily walked onto and could afford. But I was so determined to conquer my dream I didn’t listen and that’s when everything went to hell.
It turns out all of those things my little eight year old self didn’t think about, were becoming a reality. The stress of the money and the workouts, and just not playing to the best of my ability got to my head, and I started to tear myself down. I wasn’t good enough, I couldn’t handle it, I didn’t have the money to stay. On top of all of that, my grades were slipping, so all of this could have been for nothing. After talking with a few people, I decided that since my future was so uncertain, I should quit. So I did. It was the worst mistake I could have possibly made. But I was going insane! All I did was cry and stress and cry some more and stress some more. It was a terrible cycle that couldn’t be broken.
So was it the worst mistake?
I ended up not being able to pay off a little chunk of what was left of my tuition, I got horrible grades, and I just stayed in my dorm a lot. I was defeated. I needed to go home.
Dreams have a way of making you not want to see the big picture. Which isn’t bad, it’s what they are supposed to be there for. To take you to your highest limits, to make you see you can be whoever you want, and do whatever you want. I encourage people to have them. Have many of them if you can find a way to achieve them. But I also encourage them to be smart about it.
It turns out I am not a fan of big schools. I could have went to any of the smaller schools I got into and probably excelled, like I am now at my local community college. Tennessee is still my favorite team, but I’ve also realized that I am a fan of the sport first. I love a good softball game, it doesn’t matter who’s playing.
I have a new dream. A few actually.
This whole fiasco didn’t shy me away from having them, just how I approached to achieve them. To be more cautious when I am taking risks and to be smarter on how I plan my life. If one of my dreams are right in front of me, I would probably take a beat to look at all the pros and cons of making that decision. You only get one life, and I (literally) can’t afford to mess up again. Not saying I will never make mistakes, just saying I will try to minimize them.
Of course I miss it. I wish I was there playing. I had the one and only dream in my hands finally after all those years, and I had to let it go.
But it wasn’t a feasible dream, and letting it go was the best decision I ever made.