Growing up, I knew two things to be absolutely true:
- Doing anything difficult at all builds character.
- Practice makes perfect.
My household, as you can imagine, had a strong emphasis on goals and success. My parents, now married for 31 years, ran things in a similar way to their partnership: with a lot of love, support, creativity, and room to grow.
I have always had very clear priorities. First, it was in sports. I became a dancer at age 3, and my athletic career took off from there.
Tee-ball, baseball, basketball, and softball, the most serious of my pursuits, followed. My dreams swapped from professional ballerina to first woman in Major League Baseball, and it was those little philosophies that would help me stick with them.
I’d tell my dad about a rough day at practice or a coach I thought was unfair. He’d reply that my problem, whatever it might have been, was helping to build character. (He was never dismissive of my feelings, though he liked to put a purpose behind my struggles.)
Later, when we spent weekend mornings at the diamond taking extra grounders, he’d remind me that practice makes perfect. I might’ve had talent, but hard work beats out natural skill any day.
These two philosophies carried me through my athletic pursuits into my academic life, where I held them close during college. On bad days or during exhaustive times, I’d whip out my two favorite phrases as a reminder. As Editor in Chief of my university’s newspaper, I had no shortage of those days. There were power struggles. Missed deadlines. Typos. From my end, I missed plenty of mistakes, made some controversial calls, and often wrote columns that didn’t feel great. Yet, I could always promise myself that with a little more repetition, I’d get to a level of near-perfection. That’s what practice leads to, right?
Now I’m not so sure.
Maybe practicing is just a method of maintenance. I worry that my writing skills, which I worked so hard to cultivate and build (thank you, CU Denver English major program), is disappearing with each day I spend away from my laptop.
Right after college, I took a writing hiatus. I was burned out. And amid wedding planning and the daily details of moving and a new job, writing was far removed from my thoughts.
One of my greatest passions has been left behind, forgotten, discarded.
While I cannot go back in time to build a successful softball career post-high school or keep me on the ballerina track, I can salvage whatever is left of my lasting dream. I can write. I’m out of practice, far away from perfection, but I am here—writing.
Welcome to the pursuit of my dreams, in real time.
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