Are there two words more haunting than those? It is incredibly scary to think that had one tiny thing in our lives gone differently, we may not be where we are right now. What if my family hadn’t moved home from America? What if I hadn’t gone out with my friends on NYE 2014 and bumped into my (now) boyfriend? What if I had been on the road a few minutes earlier and been involved in the accident that I approached just after it happened? There are so many what ifs, so many situations to ponder and imagine what our circumstances would be had they been ever so slightly different.
Lately, there have been a lot of what’s if running through my mind, specifically relating to golf. I think its easy to ask ourselves the question when things maybe aren’t going so well, because we start to assess what we could do better and what decisions may have lead to certain failures. And don’t get me wrong, I think that’s really healthy. As an athlete, I have to reflect and definitely ask myself “what if I had done this differently” so that my future decisions and processes can ultimately produce better outcomes. But my what ifs go a lot deeper than just “what if I had taken my time and chosen the right club?”
“What if I had worked harder on my golf game while at uni?”
“What if I had played national amateur events when I came home from uni for summer rather than just club and county golf?”
“What if I didn’t have to work and could dedicate 100% of my time to working on my game?”
And you know what…they haunt me. They really do. When I’m going through a bit of a rocky patch, I have a bad habit of questioning all of these things, and attributing my bad performances and the faults in my game to them. Long story short, its exhausting. But after a conversation I had today with someone about negative thoughts and how to turn them into positives, I started to think that maybe the same idea can be applied to these “what ifs.”
“What if I had worked harder at my golf game while at uni?” Okay…I maybe would’ve performed better and had a bit of a head start for when I moved home and started playing full time. But. That would’ve meant sacrificing more of the free time I had which I spent with the close-knit, amazing group of friends I made. And I wouldn’t have traded the time we spent or the memories we made together for the world. For me, as well, my main goal for my 4 years at university was to perform well academically and graduate with a degree, the golf was always a bonus.
“What if I had played more elite events during the summers I was home from uni?” Well, I definitely would’ve gained a lot more experience and wouldn’t have had to start from scratch when it came to navigating the amateur event schedule. But at the time, I wasn’t dedicated enough to be thinking about playing in those events and my parents didn’t push me to do so, which I don’t resent them for at all. I think that being in the position that I’m in now, where I don’t really have anyone telling me when I have to practice and go to the gym, has really tested me as a person and an athlete. I have found the self motivation to commit to gym training and practicing and scheduling all of my own events, all because I want so badly to compete and be successful, not because someone is telling me to do so.
“What if I didn’t have to work and could dedicate all of my time to working on my game?” This is the kicker. This is the question that I dwell on, and it’s definitely worthy of a post on its own (keep an eye out!). It would be amazing to not have to juggle a job and all of the responsibility and work that comes with trying to make a career as an athlete. And I am not asking for sympathy, because I know there are loads of successful athletes that had to support themselves before they made it big. But you know what, I have learned so much through having to create a balance between the two worlds. I have learned how to prioritise my time and how to make my practice high-quality, simply because I don’t get the quantity that others might. As silly as it sounds in this context, I have learned how to save my money, simply because I am not earning a full time wage. And although I don’t have the most glamorous job, I feel very lucky that I have something else in my life to focus on and work hard at, almost like a bit of a break from golf every now and then.
I suppose what I’m getting at is that there are so many instances, in golf and in life, where we can get bogged down in the thought of how things could be so much better, or at least so much more different. The “what ifs” are inevitable, just like any negative thought, but we have to turn them on their heads and appreciate where we are and who we are because of how things have planned out thus far. Let’s not dwell on what could have been, but thrive on what is.
This is my first official post, and I tend to go back and read over what I’ve written and think “my god…I sound like a wannabe fortune cookie!” Cringe! But I just have to say that something I find really difficult is opening up about things that are bothering me or just on my mind. And I think I’ve started to realise that there are a lot of other people out there that are experiencing the same struggles as I am, whether they’re on the same kind of journey as me or not. So I suppose if I can reach out to even just one person and help them out a little bit, then this new venture can be deemed a success. That one person might be myself…but hey! You’ve gotta start somewhere right!