Dear Softball, Happy Valentine's Day
We have been through a lot together. You have given me my highest of highs and my lowest of lows, but throughout this roller coaster called life, you’ve been there. You’ve given me some of the greatest experiences of my life, and you’ve also given me some of the toughest. You’ve been my escape during tough times, and you’ve been my tough times. When no one was there for me, you were. When I didn’t want you, you stayed.
When I didn’t know who I was, you gave me an identity. You let me depend on you when I was lost. You made me love you when I didn’t love myself. You reeled me back in every time I distanced myself. You gave me hope.
From a young age, you have led me to believe in something bigger than myself. You forced me to get out of bed in the morning and dream big. You have taught me that this world is infinitely bigger than I could ever imagine. You never let me give up in the face of adversity, even when I wanted to really bad. You put a drive and passion in me that could never be forgotten or erased. You led me to dedicate my mornings, my afternoons, my weekends, my social life, my childhood, my teens, now my twenties, my life to you, and I owe so much to you.
I haven’t always treated you like you mean everything to me. I have taken you for granted. I hated you when I had to set my alarm clock to 6 a.m. every morning when I could have gotten an extra hour of sleep. I hated you when I had to spend every week night at pitching lessons. I hated you when I had to skip every social gathering under the sun during the weekends. I hated you when you almost killed me with a line drive. And when I look back at all of that hatred, I realize I wasn’t fair to you.
You gave me something to live for when I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted in life. You have led amazing (and not-so-amazing) people into my life that have shaped the person I have become.
You have taught me so much. You taught me how far sacrifice, dedication, and passion can take me. You taught me that I don’t have to be perfect all the time. You taught me that I can do great things in this world and that I matter.
You taught me that I don’t have to be small and feminine to be respected as a woman. You taught me that power and muscles and broad shoulders and being a foot taller than everyone in middle school and thick legs are beautiful because they allow me to do things people could only dream of.
They allowed me to hold a trophy up in front of thousands and thousands of people. They allowed me to travel the country and see things I would have never imagined I’d see. They allowed me to meet and connect with lifelong friends. They allowed me to represent my country. They made me… me.
Thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for making this life interesting, to say the least. Thank you for leading me back to you when I wanted to leave you behind. Thank you for a life of highs and lows; it has taught me balance. Thank you for teaching me to love myself. Thank you for making me who I am. You deserve it all and more. Happy Valentine’s Day to my first and greatest love.