When Pushing to be Perfect is Not so Perfect

By Coach Debbie Olson

I have been a fitness and health nut for as long as I can remember.  I have two brothers, one being only 18 months older than me.  You can bet that I was always playing some type of sport with him and his friends trying to keep up.  I would rather play with a basketball than with Barbie.  I remember my mom bribing me with money to wear a dress my grandfather bought for me as I refused to ever get dressed up!  Regardless of my lack of interest in being a “girl”, being active was always a part of my life.  

When I was in middle school, I played basketball and softball.  After being a starting basketball player in middle school and starting point guard my freshman year, I was on cloud 9 and ready for anything.  It wasn’t until I switched to a different high school where I got a reality check.  I was benched almost every game.  We were not an undefeated team, but had some great players.  I was never given a chance to add something to the team.  I was the one put into the game with two minutes left if it was a hard loss or win on our end.  I hated the fact of being absolutely humiliated, especially when we played against my first high school where I was a starter.  Rather than fighting the battle, giving myself the motivational pep talk, and trying to prove my team and coach wrong, I quit.  Flat out, quit.  I refused to be humiliated as I knew what I was capable of.  I regret that decision.  Every time there is a basketball game going on or even if we are just messing around with friends, I immediately miss it and upset myself about letting it go so quickly.  

The point I am trying to prove is that we all have faults.  Leaders and coaches all have faults.  We hate embarrassment and failure.  We don’t want others to see us fail given such a high role.  I still get anxiety to practice gymnastics and heavy lifting around members as I KNOW this is a weakness of mine.  Rather than fail and work on it, I will avoid it.  I strive for people to get better and almost try to live vicariously through members as I SEE their capabilities.  I don’t want anyone to quit like I did and regret it.  I don’t want anyone to hide while working on their weaknesses as I do.  As a coach, we may seem as though we have it all figured out, but we don’t.  We are human just like everyone else.  We can quit when times are rough, we are scared to expose our weaknesses, we strive to put our best foot forth as we know we are setting an example for others.  Please do not be so quick to judge people as no one is perfect.  Why we put this pressure on ourselves to be perfect is beyond me, but we all do it.  We can preach about not giving up because we want to help.  As an athlete, I think I can lose sight of why it is that I train.  I love helping others get better, but what about my performance and health within?  I feel it is something almost all of us need to work on every day.  The anxiety and pressure will never completely go away for me, but I am hopeful that little strategies and reminders (like this blog) will help me and hopefully others along the way.

See you at the gym!