By Ryan Restivo
Volume 1 Issue 2
November 24, 2020
Image provided by Victor Decolongon
BANG! There it went, straight over the left field fence and onto the batting cages. The parents on the bleachers going nuts, my dad about to lose his voice, and my heart beating so fast it just might explode. Indeed, a fantastic feeling, but it was not easy getting there.
Baseball was my life. I watched and played it all the time. I thought I would love the game forever. I was wrong. Everything seemed great until I played travel baseball. I figured I could handle the pressure; however, as the season got closer, I felt myself losing interest. The game I loved felt like a chore. With every Sunday practice, I experienced something rare… nerves. I felt the nerves the second I woke up to the second practice ended. The nerves intensified. My stomach, sick, as if someone was taking a bat, battering my stomach. I did not know how to stop this feeling. I thought it would go away over time. It got worse. Worse to the point where I was throwing up, then walking into practice like nothing happened, pretending to have fun. I could not do this anymore. The immense pressure and extreme nerves were too much. I made a tough decision that felt right at the time. I quit the team just days before the first game. This decision destroyed my confidence, because I was giving up.
My confidence was shot, and it affected my life. Waking up nervous on Sundays for baseball was one thing, but waking up nervous every day for school, or just life in general was another. I realized this had nothing to do with baseball. This was a confidence issue within me. It affected me in the most unlikely places, like school recess. The highlight of every kid’s day was the opposite for me. I refused to join all the kids having a blast outside. Why? Because of the paranoia of everyone staring, the fear of embarrassment in front of all to witness. Instead, I would stay inside. Alone. Every day. Sometimes I would even hide in the bathroom until recess was over. Even with therapy and a school psychologist, I still felt like a spider tangled in its own web. I wondered if anything could ever get me back to normal. The decision to quit baseball a year ago still haunted me. I missed it tremendously.
Although I was not playing baseball anymore, I still watched baseball all the time. After all, it remained my favorite sport. Watching the stars of the game like Mike Trout and Dee Gordon thrive on the field really made me second guess my decision. I never want to look back in life with regrets, and I feared that not playing would be something I would regret. My mom always told me that the day I quit would be a day I regret. I belonged on a baseball field. I needed to get myself back out there and play. Through some words of wisdom from my family, and unintentional inspiration from MLB stars, I found myself back on a baseball diamond, where it all slowly started to come together.
BANG! There it went… My first home run.
It’s every baseball player’s dream to hit a home run during a big game, so the player in me was thrilled! However, the average everyday human in me felt different. This change in confidence I had on the field transferred to my everyday life. Just like my nerves had, but in reverse this time. I was no longer tentative to live my life. I was my own worst enemy; nothing held me back besides myself. I found it within me to play again, and one swing had finally changed everything. One swing I will never forget.