The summer before my freshman year of high school I decided that after years of putting golf to the side I was going to try and learn again, hopeful that I could play on our high school team. In the months before that summer I had been struggling with the grief of my mother’s death, and I was beginning to face the reality of everything. Being part of a team and playing golf became my therapist.
The prior school year I had began to become more involved in sports, participating on the track team as well as managing volleyball. Playing sports was — and still is — such a release for me, through the team and family bonds you build with them. Through that involvement I not only created lifelong bonds with people, but found a way of coping, a distraction from everything else going on in my life. When you set foot on the tee box and walk up to hit the ball, your mind clears and you are focused for that time in that moment. Every time I go to swing a golf club I think of my mom and how she is looking down at me, being able to watch what I am doing. Of course those thoughts bring a sense of sadness to me that she cannot be here, but the joy of her memories are much greater, and it reminds me to never give up and keep fighting through the rough times, even a rough round!
Many of the people who have entered my life since my mom passed away have had a lasting impact on me. Especially my coaches. Coaches can be like parent figures, they help guide you through life and I am beyond grateful for them. For they dedicate their lives to help others and love us all unconditionally.
My past golf coach is more than just a coach; she has helped me through so much involving my mom’s death as well as my self-harm and has shaped who I am as a person. My amazing team that I had my freshman year also allowed me to feel comfortable and able to be myself without judgment.
I feel that I have also gained confidence through golf. I am not the most outgoing person and not one to take many risks outside of my comfort zone, but over this year I have began to see that change. All of those times that I was forced to go above my level of comfort in order to get something accomplished were uncomfortable but definitely worth it. Every time I did so, I grew as a leader, golfer, and as a person in general.
I can’t imagine not having that place to get away, escape life and be myself. Sports have taught me about life and the ups and downs. You don’t always win the battles you are fighting. This can be applied to almost all aspects of life but to me it applies especially to dealing with mental illness. Some days are good, others not so much, and we can learn to accept that it will get better through other things we do in life, such as playing a sport.
We all have something that is a release for us. Other activities that often act as a release are yoga, running, playing an instrument, singing, painting, writing, and so many other amazing things that people are talented at and care about! It might take time to find your’s, but once you find that healthy activity that helps you cope, I am confident that you will feel a weight lifted off your shoulders.