When my friends and I get together we like to play this game where we ask each other probing questions. We’ve appropriately named the game “Candace Questions” Very catchy. I enjoy this game as it allows us to learn previously unknown things about each other. Some of the questions are easy, like what is your favorite drink, and some are funny like telling each other about the first time we drank alcohol and some go deeper. I was lying in bed thinking about what my next “Candace Question” would be and I came up with “What event in my life profoundly hurt my feelings?”. This is my answer.
In 2003 or 2004 my company decided to join a summer softball league. It was supposed to be a casual league with participants who had a variety of skill levels. I took this to mean that most of the teams would be formed with people who had no or little skills and I decided to join the team. It was a mixed gender team and I think that the rules stated that there needed to be an equal amount of men and women on the field during game play. We had a hard time finding enough women in the company that wanted to join the team so we opened up the team to friends and family members. However, there was a rule that if there were enough women from my company outsiders couldn’t participate.
The league began and I quickly realized that softball wasn’t my game. They usually put me in the catcher position but I was scared shitless of the ball and I wouldn’t catch it. When it would fly towards me I would step to the side and let it drop to the ground. I knew that wasn’t the right thing but I couldn’t help myself. Sometimes it would be necessary for me to throw the ball to first base or to the pitcher and that didn’t go well either. It was difficult for me to throw the ball hard enough for it to get all the way to the pitcher. Yep, I had zero athletic ability for softball and basically I sucked. But, I was having fun and creating relationships with my co-workers which was important to me. Especially since the coach was my direct boss.
Fast forward several weeks into the season and I was still having fun despite my inability to play softball at all. We had our weekly game at 7:30pm and I showed up early to warm up and practice. That night one of our team members brought a few friends to help us in case we ran short of women. Luckily, we had just enough women from my company so I didn’t expect the extra women to play.
It came time for the game and our coach called out the team positions and as she finished up I realized that she didn’t call my name. I was a little taken aback and I tried to look at the bright side. I thought she would put me in later in the game. I took a seat on the bench and I cheered for my colleagues.
The game progressed and my boss pretended she didn’t see me. Innings came and went and the extra women were always put in the game. The longer things went the worse I began to feel. I realized they were not putting me in the game because I sucked. I knew I sucked but blatantly ignoring me made me feel bad about myself. As the final innings were called I looked at my boss hopefully but she looked through me and acted as if I was invisible. I could feel the tears begin to sting behind my eyes and I was overcome with emotions.
By the time the game was completed I was sitting silently on the bench and I was working hard to keep the tears on the inside. I hurriedly said bye to my coworkers and the moment I entered the car tears began to stream down my face. I drove out of the parking lot like a bat out of hell because I didn’t want anyone to see me so upset. I thought it was my fault and I deserved to be treated badly. The entire ride home I sobbed and sobbed. I remember going to bed with red sore eyes feeling deeply depressed, angry and hurt.
My old bosses simple act of ignoring me made me feel inadequate about myself for a very long time. I never had any athletic confidence in myself and her response to my inability to play softball just reinforced the fact that I wasn’t good enough to play games with people or participate in any athletic events.
The entire time I worked at that job I always held this action against her. It shook my confidence for a long time and I hated how she made me feel about myself. I am an emotional human and while sticks and stones can break one’s bones actions can cause a deep wound. I don’t think she ever understood how much I was affected by the situation. I also wish I had stuck up for myself. Why didn’t I ask to be put in? Why didn’t I acknowledge her actions and make her feel like the asshole rather than letting her make me feel bad about myself.
Part of me very slightly understands her motives. I have known people who were competitive about sports and winning was very important to them. However, I never thought our league would attract the super competitive types. I was wrong.
My regret over this situation was that I never talked to her and shared how much her actions hurt me. I wish I had the balls to talk to her about it. I think it would have gone a long way in helping me establish my athletic confidence. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that I had some athletic talent. Softball wasn’t my thing but biking sure was. I was good at it and it was good for me. It also gave me a tremendous amount of personal confidence and a sense of achievement. I knew I sucked at softball but treating colleagues, friends and strangers with respect is much more important than winning a rec league softball tournament. If you’re interested our team came in third out of six teams.