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  • Writer's pictureNicole Ogg

What the game of volleyball taught me.

To carry on the conversation about making mistakes from last week…

Volleyball is one of the few sports where a point is earned from the other team’s mistake. It is a game of mistakes, and whoever makes the fewest, wins the game. Simple as that.

I started playing volleyball when I was 12. I played throughout middle school, high school, and went on to play 4 years of college. I still play weekly and I’m constantly learning and growing in the game, even at the age of 29. I hope I never stop learning as long as I’m playing.

Throughout my volleyball career, I’ve had good games, bad games, AMAZING games, HORRIBLE games, games where I’ve felt invincible, where no one could get a ball past me, and games where I felt like I was the reason my team lost. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with this game. I’ve wanted to quit and never think about or play it ever again. But I’ve come to realize that I don’t know what I would do without this sport, because I truly believe that it has helped shape me into the person I am today.

Not only did the game teach me discipline, perseverance, teamwork, leadership, overcoming adversity, resilience, but it taught me that it is OKAY to make mistakes. We learn, grow, and evolve in life through the mistakes we make, and those mistakes teach us more about ourselves. Like the game of volleyball, where mistakes happen at every point, life is filled with mistakes, some big and some small. Now, I like to think of some of them as life lessons or learning opportunities, but in reality, they are mistakes. And again, it is OKAY to make them. When you choose to continue to make the same mistake over and over again, that’s when it becomes a choice. I have made some choices that I’m not proud of. Those choices have knocked me on my ass, wrestled me around on the ground, but I got right back up, stronger than ever and vowing to never repeat those choices again.

But let’s get back to our talk about making mistakes and where I tie in the game of volleyball to life. In volleyball and in life, mistakes can occur due to miscommunication, lack of focus, not being in the right frame of mind… and a ton of other reasons. But when I miscommunicate in life, I apologize to the person who was on the receiving end and vow to be better at communicating, just like I do with my teammates when a ball drops in between us. When I lose focus in life and start veering from my path, I check myself (a timeout, if you will) and remind myself what my goals and expectations are, just like a timeout during a game to gather our thoughts and make a plan to win. And when I’m not in the right frame of mind, which happens a lot these days, I take time for myself to focus on my mental health. Whether that’s a therapy session, a call with a friend, a walk outside, or a nap on the couch with my cat, taking time to get back in the right frame of mind is important and will hopefully lead to fewer mistakes.

Mistakes. They are inevitable, whether it's a game you play or the game of life that we're all living. You are going to make them, so you might as well learn to be okay with making them. Some will be small, some may be serious, but all mistakes will help you grow and will teach you lessons that you need to learn. And although you might not understand the lessons right away, I promise you will learn to understand what your mistakes were trying to teach you.

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