Why it took me 15 years to have a smack at tennis

Photo by Christian Tenguan on Unsplash

When people asked what my favourite sport was, I always said badminton.

I enjoyed it. I never loved it.

Tennis was what I loved, although somewhat vicariously. While I didn’t play, I followed the tours and players. I was way too emotionally invested in it.

But I never picked up a tennis racket for more than 10 weeks. Instead, I trained for badminton for two years.

When I finally started playing tennis regularly last year, I understood why -

Badminton was a safe bet because I was fairly decent at it. But tennis is a whole different beast. What if I am dreadful at it?

Teenage me was terrified of being terrible at anything, so I did the only sensible thing — avoid failure. I would rather not pursue my dreams than to suffer defeat because it hurts too much. I wrote in my diary:

‘Failure’ has never been in my dictionary…
But I dread failure…
Because I don’t know what failure is…

I still net most of my serves, but I keep smiling

It has become a pervasive theme in my life, whether it was ‘wanting’ to be a publication officer at university or to work in corporate communications. I knew I would be good, but I have never truly wanted any of those things.

I wish I had endured failure during my younger years, because now I have experienced the journey of pulling myself up from a dark place, I know it is one of the most empowering processes.

You have to lose before you can win. And, it’s ok to be scared.