You know, I often feel like my life is just one big young adult fiction novel, stuck forever in the middle. I’ve been thinking that thought for the last couple of days.
Today, my story started its new chapter. Or, at least, the biggest plot twist.
It involves sports. Wow, I never thought I’d say that in my life.
My sport of interest has never been consistent for more than, say, half a year. Ever since we were allowed to pick a sport in 4th grade, I have jumped from tennis, to athletics, to basketball, to football, and now finally taekwondo. So when I stick with a sport (basketball, in this case) for more than two years, I know that I actually like it.
Soon after moving to my new home, a gated community, I joined basketball coaching classes on the weekdays. The basketball court, in the most basic sense, is the ONLY place where kids my age meet. We have close to no other social life outside of basketball class, trust me. So, obviously, the people who I’ve stuck with in there are nothing short of my best friends. But that still doesn’t stop me from feeling like I need to be on an edge in the court.
Look, whether I or anyone else in this universe admits it or not, I am a nerd. I enjoy solitude with a book in my hand, walking peacefully in the winter sun. I listen to podcasts about the kilogram being redefined, or John and Hank Green joking about death, all while finishing Telugu notes or preparing for my finals (which are a month away-i know, it’s too soon) downstairs.
Doing random things way outside of my comfort zone is definitely something I enjoy once it’s done, but something I absolutely dread while it’s happening. That’s how I felt with this basketball match. I know that there are other, better, actually dangerous things for me to be afraid of, but sue me for being concerned that my heart might pop out of my chest due to nervous tension.
I have never played an official basketball match outside of school, so I am awfully nervous when I go down to play. We start out okay, with a lead of 12-6, but then the good guys(including me) get substituted, and soon the score is 19-25. I am beyond shocked. I am devastated. I am beyond exhausted. I played so well, and so hard, but now we were embarrassingly behind.
I’m on the verge of giving up. Not just pressing-pause-to-resume kind of giving up. The kind the where you stop and have to start all over again.
I. have. never. given. up. Ever.
Not on people, not on tough situations, and definitely, DEFINITELY not on myself or my friends.
So I don’t.
I push. And push. And push. And push harder and harder and the hardest I could and I fight back my fears and my tears and the pain and the despair and I just give it my all. I run into people, snatch the ball, pass, scream until my lungs burned and I’m 100% there in that moment.
I know the situation is more and more like something out of a movie, because after 40 minutes of play, both teams are tied and we go into 3 minutes of overtime. I think that this is do or die. But nah. We both score, and we go into overtime again, this time for two minutes. And I think that this situation is as unpredictable as walking on a tightrope 20 feet up in the air with the wind blowing right at me.
But I hold on. We all do.
For the last 2 minutes, I hold on to whatever hope is left in me and I give it my all.
I don’t know how, but we suddenly have the lead. 29-27. The ball is, literally and figuratively, in the opponent team’s court right now.
But our hope rises just enough for one last boost of energy, and we fight back.
The whistle blows.
Long enough for us to realize that we actually won.
The screams are loud and roaring, and they fill me with the voice to scream too.
I’m running towards everyone. I hug my friend, Akshita, who was sitting on the bench, cheering for us.
I’m hug my friend, Ishaan, who was the reason we won.
The specifics don’t matter because this success wasn’t about individual glory. People told me I was really, super aggressive and I defended like a boss, but that’s not the primary cause of my immense, overwhelming joy.
I often think that my life is one big young adult fiction novel stuck in the middle forever. It’s not always easy, or fun, or even kind.
But goddamn it, it’s good.