Hi again! For my first actual article, I wanted to write about my struggles with confidence in track.
Ever since I started doing sports, confidence always seemed to be my biggest setback. For example, I could never shoot the ball in soccer, someone else would be more likely to score. If a goalie was needed, of course I’d volunteer, my teammates have a better chance of winning if I’m back here. There was never anything for me to fear, so why was I selling myself short?
The thought of failure. Everyone hates failing whether they admit to it or not, but I especially hated failing and letting others down. Something that you may not know is that a lack of confidence translates into excuses. When I got to high school and started losing races, I had a hard time not beating up on myself and moving forward. I could never say “That was a bad race” or “I got too comfortable”, I struggled with being honest to myself and felt like I let others down in the process.
My lack of confidence prevented me from improving and kept me stuck in an endless loop of bad races and bad excuses. One time I even went as far as running a slower 400 than I was capable of, on purpose, to avoid taking a then teammates position on the 4×400. Ultimately, the thought of a teammate being upset with me was greater than my own personal growth. Once I started making these connections, I knew I needed to focus on making mental changes.
My Junior season is where this all changed. I had spent quarantine thinking about how I could change my mental state and become a better me. The conclusion I came to was this… I can only control myself, not others. Though that may sound obvious, consider all the times where you made decisions to make others happy or satisfied, even if it would negatively impact you in the process. The bond I have with my teammates contributed to my change. The girls on my 4×400, who I am now so close with, helped me discover and accept my skills. Their support was never-ending and it encouraged me to take risks. Ultimately, making connections between my thoughts and behaviors helped me to make small changes that led to bigger chances. I started believing I could achieve what my coaches already knew I could do.
Confidence, I believe, is essential to performance. When I learned to be confident and take risks, you could see it in my times. For me, confidence is a mentality too, one that allows you to accept your mistakes and find ways to fix them. I learned during this journey of mine, that some days are different from others, and you may struggle to be confident at times. But the reality of the matter is that when you learn the meaning of confidence and learn how to be, it always sticks with you even if you can’t see it.
Sometimes it may feel easier to just give up and walk away but achieving growth isn’t possible this way. I cannot express enough how important mental strength is in this process, and it’s perfectly fine to find this strength along the way. Mental strength comes from many things like finding a workout that makes you happy, looking for healthy ways to relieve stress or even daily positive reminders. Hard work, love of the sport and persistence can really take you a long way. My final words to you today are: confidence is not something that just develops overtime, patience and effort are required. The journey becomes even easier, when you have friends/coaches alongside you to push and motivate you!