*photo by ecommerce
He’s arguably one of the greatest tennis players of all time. He’s balletic on the court, is always balanced, speaks 9 languages, has perfect hair, and was once considered the second most respected man in the world (behind Nelson Mandela). We can learn a lot from Roger Federer.
I love this quote from Roger. It reminds me of something a therapist once said to me. I was about to turn 40 and decided I needed help working through some things in my life I wanted to change. The process was so, very, slow. I remember sitting in her office one day, explaining how things were going and I said, “It’s just so uncomfortable.” She shrugged and said, “Yeah, sometimes you just have to sit in the discomfort.” That was not the response I wanted from her. I was paying her to help me not be uncomfortable! After I left her office, what she said really resonated with me. She was implying that there's no way around it. Making change is going to be uncomfortable. I imagined sitting in a pool of the most disgusting, dirty, muddy water. My natural reaction would be to jump up in a panic, get it off me, throw away my dirty clothes, take the hottest shower, and scrub my skin raw. But she was telling me to just sit in it, to just be uncomfortable. I imagined myself taking some deep breaths, calmly sitting in the muck and allowing myself to register what it feels like. Thoughts like, "Wow, this feels really shitty," and "I hate how this feels," floated around in my head. Eventually, I got through my discomfort, I got out of the mud and worked my way to where I wanted to be.
EMBRACE DISCOMFORT. The beginning of a new year is a great time to look forward with optimism, and embrace the hard work it takes to make changes. Whether you decide this is the year you’re going to master a kick serve, start serving and volleying, or improve your USTA rating, it’s going to take time. If you’re anything like me, you might want to chuck your racquet at the fence, swear like a sailor, and maybe even leave a lesson in tears. In early 2021 my tennis coach was insisting I take a short, high ball on the rise, and strike it around shoulder height, I was so freaking frustrated! I couldn’t get the timing right, and didn’t understand why I couldn’t just stay at the baseline and wait for it to drop in my strike zone. I was so uncomfortable, and yes some tears of frustration were shed. I kept working on it, and now I hit that shot regularly. It’s a much more aggressive shot and it pays off. If you approach making changes with the expectation that it’s going to be uncomfortable at times, it’s not so intimidating. Allow yourself some grace. You’re being brave and trying to improve. So, bring on the discomfort! You've got this!
EMBRACE A NEW NORMAL. If we’ve learned anything over the past few years, we know by now that things take time. As a tennis fan, the cancellation of the 2020 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells is what I mark as the official start of the pandemic. When I went to the special fall edition of the tournament in October 2021, it still didn’t seem “normal.” The crowd was small, there were no kids running around trying to get gigantic tennis balls autographed. It wasn’t perfect, but it was progress, and made me realize the path back to "normal" is going to be slow.
EMBRACE NEW FACES. We’ve been so spoiled. As much as we didn’t want it to end, the faces we’ve seen at the top of men’s and women’s tennis for decades are changing. Who knows if we’ll see tennis’ GOATs, Roger and Serena, lift another trophy. There’s a new batch of young and exciting tennis stars that are changing it up, challenging tradition, and adding excitement to the game we all love so much! The tennis kaleidoscope is turning, and it might look like chaos before the picture becomes clear and beautiful.
EMBRACE IT. Whatever 2022 brings you, good or bad, I hope you allow yourself time to take it all in, be willing to sit in the mud, and know that although change takes time, you can do it!