Finding Your Passion

by Avery Goulding, ’19

The author started bowling at age 5, and the sport has become her passion.

The author started bowling at age 5, and the sport has become her passion.

I grew up playing one particular sport, bowling. I dabbled in many other sports, but I still always came back to bowling, which I carried with me from age five. It wasn’t always easy, though. Early on in my ten-year journey with bowling, I found myself wanting to quit. I just wasn’t enjoying it anymore because I didn’t feel like I was good enough or really getting any better. After thinking about it a lot I decided to quit for a year, to relieve some of the pressure and experience what it would be like to get off the lanes and have more free time.

I can tell you, now, it wasn’t as great as I thought it would be. I missed my friends, the tournaments, the early Saturday morning league, and, most of all, the general environment. It was, after all, where I spent a majority of my time growing up. So what I decided to do was dedicate my entire summer to practicing. Unfortunately, jumping into this method still wasn’t getting me anywhere, because I figured I could just teach myself to be better. I was too shy and probably too embarrassed to ask for help.

Well, being terrible got very tiring very quickly. I had to get over myself and admit that I needed help because I wasn’t getting anywhere without it, although being the young age of 12 years old, I was still very stubborn to the idea. Eventually I was willingly going in to practice as much as I could, and soaking in as much information as possible from more experienced players. With that, I was making unbelievable improvements.

Being in love with a sport takes dedication. If you don’t think you’re in love with it, keep trying, you never know if it’s really what you want until you explore every aspect of it. It’s one thing to genuinely not enjoy the sport anymore but it’s another to complain that you’re not good enough, refuse to put time in to get better, then quit because you’re upset about it. Don’t let that be your excuse. Of course it sucks feeling like you’re not good enough. It sucks even more feeling like there’s no hope of getting better, but changing that is entirely in your hands. No one is going to fix that for you. I learned that the hard way.

Yet, while continuing to pursue this sport and gradually become more and more athletically inclined, I’ve come to realize that it is not exactly how talented you are that makes a sport so amazing. After attending several camps, tournaments, pro/ams, leagues, travel events and many more things, I fell more and more in love with it. Realizing I’d fallen in love with the sport was one of the most amazing things that has ever taken place in my life.

It’s the learning experience that made it beautiful. Conversing with professionals and extremely dedicated athletes, working and training with people who are equally as interested in the sport as me, made the experience that much more enjoyable. The feeling of listening to and watching other people talk about and do what they love, then succeeding further down the road. Picking up those habits of dedication and self awareness. Those are only a few of the things that make it so much easier for me to keep my head in the game and strive to be my best day in and day out.  There’s nothing in the world that provides more motivation for me than striving to have the mental and physical talent of people with more skill. And when I’ve reached their level, I’ve challenged myself to become even better, and it has become a never-ending journey to success.

The encouraging feeling of the little successes I experienced along the way are some of the best parts of my journey, from those successes I learn more and become more engaged in the game. When I encounter failures I have to try my hardest to see it purely as an opportunity to put in more work so it doesn’t happen again. As the saying goes, if you’re not winning, you’re learning.

Just like any other goal, there will be bumps along the way. Losing is extremely discouraging and it certainly doesn’t help when it happens frequently. Just like working my tail off all year round then facing yet another loss. An upside to all of this is that every athlete goes through it. It is inevitable that I will come across challenges, some that I will do well with, and some that I will not. This should by no means be my reason for giving up. Michael Jordan once said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career, I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Today, I am confident. I am impressed with my skills and I get better all the time, but the only reason for that is effort. I want to be great and maybe even the greatest. Realizing that motivation and the will to stop being so stubborn was the best moment for me, and I’m only going to get better from here. I may lose a few times along the way but I’ll always be learning, and if I continue to learn, I will always have the advantage.

Sports are not always the only thing this applies to. If you’re passionate about succeeding at something, where it’s art or music or dance, effort and the will to improve will take you anywhere you want to be in life. The opportunity and potential every person has is only compromised when they stop trying.

There are so many benefits to finding your passion, things that can and will positively affect your life in more ways than you can imagine; you only have to convince yourself to try. I can only hope somewhere along the way of your journey to succeed, you’ll learn about failures, anger, relief, motivation, encouragement, and, hopefully, success.

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