In today’s ultra competitive society, the constant pressure to succeed consumes many of us. Most competitive people feel pressure to get a good job, pressure to perform on that job, pressure to succeed in one’s sport or recreational activity, pressure to perform well in school, pressure to pass that big test and do well on that big project. While some people thrive on pressure and are actually motivated by it, many people wilt or fold when faced with a situation where a big decision or poor performance can greatly affect one’s future path. I’ve recently faced two big pressure situations: passing my final capstone business class needed to graduate, and finding a job.
As I get closer and closer to graduation, the mounting pressure of finding a good job grows by the day. My parents, friends, and even my girlfriend constantly ask the question “What are you doing after graduation?” and not having a good answer has become extremely frustrating. The need to spend time on this job search and to complete my final classes has even led me to neglect this blog! Hopefully, you all have caught up on my first two posts by now, and you are a little familiar with my story.
So what’s the importance of all this rambling about “pressure”? I would like to think that my background in sports has prepared me to face real-life pressure situations. As a player, and in particular as a pitcher, I’ve faced many situations that have been pressure packed. However, I feel that my biggest accomplishments have stemmed from excelling in these situations.
Some of my proudest moments in baseball came during the state championship run that my High School team mounted during my junior year. In our state qualifying, loser-out game, I faced a worthy opponent, with little relief available. After 8 innings, I had tired and in the 9th I ended up giving up a two run double, which cost us the lead. Fortunately, my teammates picked me up and we earned a walk-off victory in the bottom of the 9th that sent us to state!
Now I faced a new kind of pressure. As the ace of our staff, I was expected to come back on short rest to throw the first state game, even though I had thrown 135 pitches in the qualifier game. Heading into our matchup with the 3rd ranked team in state, I’ll admit that I was a little scared. This team had put up some ridiculous offensive numbers, and was on a roll. The morning of my start, I couldn’t even feel my arm. However, a few ibuprofens, some adrenaline, and a 20 run game from our offense helped move us to the next round. Even though we exploded offensively, I felt a great sense of accomplishment in being able to perform at a high level in a high-pressure situation while not feeling 100%. I only gave up one run in 5 1/3 innings in this outing, even though I was spent. The pressure to succeed was my motivation to battle. I think that this is one of the key factors in separating the best athletes from simply good ones.
That team went on to win state against a much more highly touted team (ranked #1 in the state going into our final game) that had reportedly already picked out their state championship rings and had six players continue on to Division 1 baseball (I ended up being the only member of our team to play D1). I’ll never forget the times with my teammates in which we were able to overcome adversity and handle high-pressure situations on the field. We used the pressure as a motivator. Hopefully, this and other life experiences will help in my pursuit of a job, and success in life.
Until next time,