Sport and spirit

Converted introvert

I surprised myself the other day. It was another one of those bizarre moments of self-awareness when the reality of my extroversion hit me afresh.

It was a Wednesday night like any other; chilly but not as cold as you might expect for late June in Canberra. We were pitted against the top team in the division: first on the ladder vs second. I played badly but yelled well (insofar as there is any art or skill to yelling). I passed awfully but cheered like a maniac.

Rewind to a few years ago. It took all my effort, concentration and bravery to call ‘mine’. I wasn’t the youngest but I was the newest and weakest player on the team – and I felt it, even though I ended up being awarded Most Improved Player that year. I was definitely the most silent player on the team.

And so it was in every other season I played. Until now.

What happened to me? How did I go from being the quietest to being the loudest person on court?

vball

Sport and personality: The way you play and what it says about who you are

For some time now, I have felt that my approach to sport is indicative of my general approach to life. Back in the day I didn’t scream and shout at matches because it didn’t conform to my perception of myselfI’m not the kind of girl who yells, who vocalises her thoughts and feelings in such a primal way, who draws attention to herself, who lets anything but reasoned logic come out of her mouth. (And perhaps this is why I was quite self-conscious about my songwriting and poetry).

There are other aspects of my playing style which I’ve reflected on. Both in life and sport, I prefer to work in teams, with other people. Both in life and in sport, I lack the competitive drive to excel more – the corollary of this is that I am calmer under pressure and not too hard on others or on myself. Both in life and in sport, I am a defender aspiring to be more like Roberto Carlos and Sergio Ramos, turning defence into attack and scoring the occasional but awesome goal – and y’know I think I am getting there!

In life, I’ve changed. I have a little more initiative than I used to. I am certainly more vocal than I used to be. I have never thought of myself as insecure, but I am more confident now, for sure. I went from being painfully shy, to reserved, to a decent navigator of social situations who simply needed alone time. And then in 2011 I found myself going nuts in my own company and needing significant daily social interaction.

That’s pretty much when I realised I was an extrovert (more on this in a future post).

 

In conclusion: Why I yell so much now

2010 was the last year I played any competitive volleyball, and therein lies the key. Really, the change in my on-court behaviour is a predictable reflection of the change in my overall social personality. Even as I am trying to be more of an encourager in life, I am also trying to be at least a little more verbally encouraging to my team mates. Even as I am trying to raise my voice about the things I am passionate about in life, I am also trying to raise my voice during matches.

Trying. It’s a conscious decision. Where previously yelling was incongruous with the kind of person I wanted to portray myself as being, it is now perfectly in line with the version of myself that I want to project to the world: I am the kind of girl who yells, who verbalises her thoughts and passions, who doesn’t care if you think she’s a fool, who is a real human being with emotions.

Is this a form of wish fulfilment, the way writing for many authors can be fantasy, escapism, atonement? Is sport an outlet for our alter egos or is the heat of competition the perfect forum for our true colours to emerge? (I’m thinking specifically here of the sweetest, mildest people who are transformed into competitive fiends in the ‘full moon’ of a game).

In my case I think life and sport run parallel. Technique and ability aside, I definitely feel the personality I bring to a match is the same one I bring to life. Nothing earth shattering here – simply one of those moments, those little things, that put your identity into context. It made me reflect on who I am, who I’ve been and who I want to be.

We won, by the way – that match on Wednesday 🙂

Any comments, thoughts? I'd love to hear from you :)

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