THE BLOG
06/14/2012 09:31 am ET Updated Aug 14, 2012

Words of Advice to Overachieving Teens

I've always wanted to be good at sports. Since I was in middle school, I aspired to become a great field hockey and lacrosse player, but it wasn't until eighth grade that I started competitive sports and hit my first volleyball. All I did was play volleyball for fun for a year, but before I even entered the crazed world of You're-Only-Going-To-Make-The-Team-If-You're-Six-Feet-Or-Taller, I worked hard in the blissful land of Everyone-Gets-A-Trophy. But then I tried out for a travel team and I miraculously made it. Even my coach saw, as he said, "the fire in my eyes" -- my desire to play. I learned how to work hard in practice, and I learned how to have a good attitude. I was never amazing, but I improved enough to make the JV team in the fall.

Playing was so much fun. I loved putting so much effort into something that wasn't school. Also, volleyball kept me in great shape. I didn't make many friends from it, but I've never been the kind of girl with many friends. I played because it was fun. For all of my hard work, I left the court content and with a coach's award. But then politics caught up with me. I didn't make a travel team the next year because I didn't have the political connections. Such nonsense is part of living in this area, but it was disheartening, nonetheless, and I didn't know what to do with myself.

Competition had been fun, but it was a brutal world, too, where I had little to no chance of succeeding because I am shorter than six feet tall. The impact this had on me can be demonstrated by the following: If someone calls a 5'9" girl tall, I generally laugh and shake my head after having blocked against a 6'5" girl who will likely get a full scholarship to the College of Anywhere in the World. But that girl probably pays $8,000 a year to travel across the entire country in search of competition, sacrificing weekends and her grades, so I guess it's not so bad that I'm not 6'2," like I used to wish I could be.

Now, instead of battling against freakishly tall girls, I race and jump against freakishly fast girls and girls with major springs. I train throughout the entire year, even though I'm not even close to being "great" at what I do. Part of why I love track and field is because I get to admire years of hard work mixed with ideal genes; however, I also love that no matter how I place in a meet, I typically feel completely fulfilled. Sure, I would love to get a full scholarship to an NCAA Division I school with strong academics, but then I would be forced to choose between school and sports. Unless you're an incredible athlete who has already represented U.S.A., who has a full ride to South Carolina, and who is destined to be an incredible athlete, it is unwise to choose sports over academics.

I dream about being a great athlete, but the truth is that sports isn't my "thing." I feel as if many modern teens feel pressure to be well-rounded, but there is a point at which one must realize that being well-rounded doesn't mean being the best at everything. It is important, however, to have fun in high school (and life in general), and partaking in athletics is a great way to do so. I'm not saying not to try in sports if you aren't amazing, but it is important not to be upset over not being the best (overachievers, I'm talking to you). Trying your hardest in sports actually makes it more fun, even if you aren't good, because doing so makes you feel good about yourself, and it allows you to leave everything on the track, the field, etc.

Teenagers, particularly those of you who are crazy and attempt to dominate everything, do not put your money on sports when you know that you are academically-oriented. Don't set your standards too high, because you'll only be disappointed when you don't reach them. Instead, rejoice at the successes that come from what you're best at, and think of other things as merely something fun. Fun isn't something you can't try hard at. Academics isn't the only thing at which you should try hard. Just remember that you can't be good at everything, but this doesn't mean that you can only do what you're good at. If all you did was what you're good at, then your life would probably be boring.

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