Our 13-year-old daughter had a plan.
She wanted to try out for a regional volleyball club, improve her skills and make the freshman team when she moves into high school next year.
She’s played volleyball since fourth grade and always said she enjoyed it. Unfortunately, she gets her genetics from her parents, and that means she has limited athletic ability that sprouts a little too late to focus it. She has decent height now, but her body is still trying to figure out how to move all of those arms and legs where they need to be.
In other words, her friends on her teams passed her by a little bit. She wasn’t the best player on her eighth-grade team, and she exhibited intermittent passion on what it might take to catch up with her peers.
Her plan came crashing down when she didn’t make that regional volleyball club. For a moment she talked about finding a different club team, and then we had to have a difficult conversation with her.
Maybe volleyball just isn’t your thing, I told her. It’s OK to admit it and start pursuing your next passion.
I saw the most amazing sigh ever come out of our 13-year-old. It was a sigh of relief. I suspect she’d already thought it herself, and hearing it out loud gave her permission to believe it.
I don’t want to advocate quitting. We try to make our children finish out the season or the year on any activity they’ve started, since they made a commitment at the beginning. But there’s a time and a place where it just makes sense to make a clean break and walk away.
We could all benefit from remembering that. If your heart’s not in it — that club, that activity, that career — then it’s all right to admit it to yourself and figure out what will make you happy.
For our daughter, the answer right now is golf. She’s been intrigued by it for a while now, and she has a nice-looking swing. For someone who overthinks everything, she seems to have mastered the advice of golf pros everywhere to not over-analyze her swing.
We’ll see where it takes her. We’ve joked with her that she’s more likely to use golf as an adult anyway, since you’ve never seen President Trump invite foreign dignitaries out for a game of volleyball.
Perhaps that’s the strain we put on ourselves. We want to decide so early in life what we want to do when we grow up, and we just don’t leave ourselves an out. It’s healthy to have a Plan B when Plan A isn’t working out too well for you.