Everyday I think about quitting Baseball

The reason why might surprise you. 

Some days are easier than others. We all go through them in our daily lives. Ups and downs during a day, week, month or year. Sometimes those downs can really get us questioning ourselves. It can make us ask if we are good enough, if we do enough or why we made choices that we did. Those downs can lead us to ask if what we are doing is worth the effort. As long as these thoughts do not become an overwhelming burden on our nature, this questioning can be a healthy exercise in self reflection. 

**Please be aware, if these thoughts are overwhelming you, causing you to make hasty or destructive choices or prevent you from leading a healthy life, I encourage you to seek out someone to talk to about it, preferably someone with training to help you.**

In daily life, these doubts can manifest about any number of topics. Work, school, and relationships top the list of daily activities with the potential to make us feel those highs and lows. But there are other factors in our lives that can be the subject of these thoughts. Maybe it's friendships or possibly a hobby. 

One characteristic of the subjects that bring out this emotion in us is that they tend to be things we care greatly about. To a bystander, your interest might be trivial. But to you it adds substance to your life.

As a father, I constantly question whether I do right for my kids. As a self employed individual I regularly ask myself tough questions in order to be successful. I've certainly had my share of self reflection. These internal debates haven't always been easy, but they've helped me get through important and tough aspects of my life. 

They've also given me experiences to revisit when those same questions arise in other important places of my life.

Anyone who knows me, knows I love baseball. It's a part of myself that I wear on my sleeve. Whether it's watching, listening, making bats, writing, or especially playing, baseball is overwhelmingly my leading source of enjoyment. If I had it my way every day would be game day. 

So if that's the case, then why do I ask myself every day if I should quit?

I know that sounds counterintuitive. I love baseball. It brings me a lot of joy and I've gone out of my way to make it a daily part of my life. Why would I even think about quitting?

The simple answer is...because I love baseball, it brings me joy and I've gone out of my way to make it a daily part of my life. 

Often, the things that bring the most joy are the same things that bring the most frustration. I've had many days where I have come home from a game happy as can be from a victory, good outing or fired up about an outstanding play. I love the feeling after a long practice where everything seems right in my performance or when the work I've put in pays off.

But, I've also had those long drives home when I can't stop judging myself for having a multiple strike out game. Or had problems falling asleep because of an error I made that cost my team a chance to win. Or when I get angry with myself in the batting cage. 

I've made many nicely handcrafted baseball bats. But I've also made mistakes during production and end up needing to start over again. Some days I can start writing an article with ease and the words just flow. Other days, I have writer's block or am unhappy with the story I put down.  

While every success adds to my affection for the game, the failures have the potential to make me doubt my place in it. To a point, this is normal. No one likes to lose. But if I allow that defeated feeling to have too much influence, it can create negative consequences for my overall outlook. Too many times, I've allowed the negatives to weigh on me. 

So I thought, what can I do to battle those feelings of failure? How can I protect my love of the game from being a victim of self doubt?  After thinking about this, I figured out that preparing myself for those tough times was the best solution. 

Asking myself if I should quit every day, prompts me to think about what the game means to me when I'm free from the ups and downs. I think about why I love baseball and what I would do if I were to give it up. It allows me to wonder about it objectively, free from the emotions of a win or lose. It helps me to prepare for the times that I feel discouraged.

It's like trying to hit a curve ball if you go into an at bat unprepared. When the catcher calls that deuce, it's going to be tough for you to hit it. So before you ever step to the plate, you do what you can to be ready for it. You work on hitting it in batting practice. You watch the pitcher when you are on deck to see how it breaks. You go into the batters box knowing it's a possibility. You may still swing and miss on it, but your chance of success is higher if you have put in the practice. When you study to recognize the pitch and know how to approach it, you can react to it instead of just flailing the bat.

Asking if I should quit is a form of self evaluation. It makes me think of times I've had success or done something I never thought I could on the field. It reminds me that to have the chance to get a hit, I have to accept the possibility of striking out. It reminds me that I can't make a great bat if I'm afraid of making a mistake on the lathe. I can't have all the things I enjoy about baseball if I don't put myself in a position to potentially fail. It can be a hard thing to accept.  But that vulnerability also makes the victories that much sweeter when they come. 

The mental game in baseball is important. When you overthink on the field it can lead to mistakes. Outcomes are better when you can approach each play with focus. You take hundreds of groundballs  to be able to field a few in a game. You hit over and over in the batting cage to be ready for 3 or 4 plate appearances. You make 50 throws in warm-ups to make a handful of meaningful ones when it counts. All the repetition is so that when the time comes, you can execute. 

That same approach can be used to face negative emotions. By acknowledging it beforehand, I can be ready for that bad day or outcome. I can counter that frustration with reminders of what I enjoy about the game. I can think about what I can do better next time instead of questioning if there should be a next time. By doing it everyday, I am ready for it. 

Every ball player knows the game is hard. It takes a lot of time, preparation and energy. It's a game of finding success in an environment of failure. It can take a toll on those that put their energy into it. Losing, strike outs and errors are regular parts of the game. It's necessary to be able to bounce back. And as with most things, being prepared is beneficial in dealing with it.  

So, I ask myself if I should quit baseball every day. I do so because in those discouraging moments, I don't ever want to think the answer to that question is yes. Because I love the game. 


Play ball

I welcome your thoughts on this article. Your feedback is always appreciated. 


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