Why I Should Start Bowling Again

I’m scared of a lot of things. Spiders, small spaces, emotional vulnerability—you know, the usual. But what really gets to me? Bowling. Let me tell you, ever since I found out during my high school years how much I suck at that sport, I have been terrified of it since.

I guess this is going to sound pretty freaking petty, but that’s one of the things I’m most afraid of: failing in front of others. Of course, I hate failure generally as I assume most people do but what really gets under my skin is feeling all these eyes on me as they witness me fail - horribly and painfully in front of them.

Ever since I can remember, I was the shyest kid you could find?. I refused to talk to anyone and teachers were actually getting pretty worried that it led to this whole fiasco of my mom having to explain that I absolutely wasn’t being abused at home—I just didn’t like talking to people, only family.

And boy, was I a pain for my mother with all of that but this mix of shyness and anxiety didn’t really go away. It’s still here.

It followed me when I couldn’t say the word “soldier” correctly in fifth grade because of my Spanish accent that will never truly go away. It followed me when I kept missing almost every softball, the word “strike” ringing in my ears too heavily. And it’s followed me right into my first year of college when all my food fell directly onto my shirt in the pool party, back in August (I cringe every time I think about this, who would've thought I would experience the stereotypical mean girl thing from a friend who tripped and accidentally elbowed me.)

Point is, failing in front of people—definitely not my thing. And so, I deal with it in probably the most immature way one could: I ignore it.

Can’t bowl for crap? That’s fine, I just won’t do it. Have terrible aim? All good, darts and probably every other sport in existence isn’t my thing anyways.Science is completely kicking my butt? I just make sure to never talk about the subject so I won’t ever sound like an idiot! See? All my problems solved just like that!

Well...if only that was true. Avoiding is just so easy, it’s hard not to do it sometimes. When we’re scared of something, our best instinct is to run away and honestly, you can’t blame us. It’s the human thing to do. But that’s where change has to happen.

I realize, by avoiding these things throughout these years, I have been missing out on a lot. I was always so terrified of failing at any sport tryouts or art competitions that I thought the best way was just to never try. All I could think was of those eyes staring at me as I threw a volleyball wrong at the gym or of getting the answer wrong after mustering up so much courage to even raise my hand.

Being invisible was just easier. But sometimes it felt lonely and it never really felt as good as it did when the speaker in middle school announced me as the winner of a school art competition, my art teacher insisted I try. And let me tell you, the free stuff I got was definitely a very pretty bonus.

The truth was, I loved it when I finally got the courage to do the little things I had the courage to do throughout the years. When I would raise my hand to answer a question, it felt good discovering that I did have a good grasp on a math problem. Sure, my heart was beating way harder than it should of but when you have the personality of the biggest introvert possible, what can you do?

So, I guess looking back now, I can’t say I’m completely cool with doing the things I’ve been too scared to do. I’m still going to have my moments when raising my hand sounds too risky or being terrified to swim around a dozen tanning people (that’s a whole ‘nother story).

But I can promise that I’ll start trying a lot more and I encourage everyone else too. Whether it’s something as small as ordering pizza over the phone (yes, I’m even scared of that, socializing is not my thing so failing at that ain’t no surprise for me) or entering a competition; it might just be worth it. You can end up feeling like the most accomplished person in the world or end up with free stuff. Total win-win.