I am often encouraging people to be bold, make themselves vulnerable, put themselves out there with no guarantees. This post is about how I put my money where my mouth is, and practiced what I preach, even though I was VERY scared.
I have been training with the Goulburn Valley Football Umpires Association for 3 football seasons now. Both my sons are umpires and while I was taking them to and from training regularly, I figured I could use the time wisely and brush up on my fitness too, by joining them. I have been training with the central umpires - and have a long history of love for the game - but not been confident to take that first step and officiate a game. It takes courage to put yourself forward, to take control of a game in front of a crowd of people who are invested, and in the middle of 36 strong, physical players.
Last week (with some encouragement from the other umpires) I decided to toughen up, face my fears and suit up ready to blow the whistle in the middle of the oval of a REAL game. My tendency toward perfection (trying to know every conceivable rule, in every conceivable circumstance) I had to throw to the wind - I am never going to be a perfect walking rule book, and if I wait until I am, to umpire my first game, it will never happen! My fear of judgement - of the players and the crowd - and of making a wrong decision, I had to face, acknowledge and accept. My fear of making a fool of myself, and the sense that I'm a fraud - pretending that I can umpire when really I can't - I had to choose to put aside. I was going to do this no matter what...... (except that I didn't tell a soul except my husband about it, so that I could still back out at the last minute!)
I was delegated a 16's game at my local/home recreation reserve. Wow...juniors you might say, that's a relief! But it didn't feel that way to me. Not only are 16/17 year old young men quite large in stature, they can also have some attitude, not to mention half of the local team are many of my closest friend's sons! Nearly all the players know me AND their parents - many of my besties - were going to be in the crowd (insert agonised, stressed emoticon).
As I walked into the pavilion before the game, any type of stealth was rendered absolutely useless, as one of my closest friends - who would probably recognise me in a balaclava - was standing right beside the race. Needless to say she was quite surprised to see me as we had been sitting together for the better part of the day at another football game, and I hadn't mentioned a thing to her! I could live in denial no longer. I was umpiring this game. Everyone now knew it and I would be accountable for it. Aaaaaaagggghhh I felt sick.
To cut to the chase I forgot my whistle - this might seem like a glaringly obvious omission, but to someone who was so stressed she nearly forgot to breathe, a whistle was only a small detail! (there were plenty of spares) - and I fell over after a ball up in the first quarter (here insert mortified emoticon). I threw the ball up and it started coming back over my head as I was running backwards outta there! Needless to say I tried to hightail it too fast backwards and fell flat on my back - in front of my home crowd and friends (did I mention to insert mortified emoticon?!) Thankfully many of them missed the spectacle, but to those that saw it, no doubt it will be the subject of much ribbing for a long time (insert smiley face because it's all in good fun!) But aside from those couple of hiccups I became more and more confident as the game progressed, taking control of a lot of the play! I now know, and have proved to myself, that I'm definitely not a fraud, and I have the belief that I can certainly do this with some more practice. Woo hoo!
So to surmise, I have overcome a huge personal obstacle and am walking forward as a more fearless woman tomorrow! To say I am now fearless would be stupid and untrue, but I am more fearless than I was last week, and will continue to practice making myself vulnerable. I will acknowledge my own inner critic (which hey, aren't we far worse critics of ourselves than anyone else can be?) but will refuse to be held back by it. I am entering the arena of life and am willing to be seen. I might be seen failing on occasion (falling over whilst umpiring isn't as bad as having nobody turn up to one of my Wellbalance seminars). I might be seen making a wrong decision, on the footy field, in life or in business. But I will risk that in the future. Because ultimately I know, that if I fall over again, or worse, I run a seminar and nobody turns up (it hasn't happened yet but I'm sick of living in the fear of it happening) I will recover and it will not be the end for me. I will get up, reassess, change my tact if need be, and move forward, onward and upward to brighter things!