It’s me, well, you (technically), but older, wiser, and definitely a little bit fatter. I know you’re going through a lot right now so I wanted to drop a line and tell you that everything is going to be okay.
It’s spring, so I know you’re missing softball season. And I know it’s hard to understand right now, but quitting was one of the best things you’ll do in your life. In fact, I’m proud of you for leaving the team, and I promise that with time, mom and dad will feel the same way.
Giving up on something you’ve committed your life to isn’t easy, but don’t worry, it turns out to be worth it. The relationships you thought you had with teammates? They won’t last. You’ll find out who your friends really are and how much they really matter, and that gift will be greater than any athletic talent you possess. And that coach? His opinions of you mean nothing. Your opinion of yourself matters the most, and from where I’m standing at age 26, you’ve turned out better than you ever thought you would.
I know quitting wasn’t easy, but I’m damn proud of you for doing it. You stood up for what you believed in, and even though “quitting” feels like failing at this very moment, you’re the real winner here. Remember when those coaches that said they wished they had more players with your work ethic? You’ll hear that a lot more throughout your life, and it’s something you’ll take pride in. Every. Single. Day.
I wish I could say that the next few months and your senior year will be a breeze, but that would be lying and we promised we’d always be honest with ourselves. Over the next year, you’ll be named the Student Government President and dedicate yourself to working in college athletics, but even though life will seem great on the outside, you’ll struggle with your identity. In fact, you’ll question your decision to quit the softball team for the rest of your life, because who are you, really, if you’re not a softball player?
Answer: You’re Katie F*cking Gwinn.
Well, you’ll change your last name to Hewitt when you marry your college sweetheart (no spoilers here -- you knew it would happen, even now), and you’ll have another identity crisis when you legally become Katie F*cking Hewitt, but that’s another story for another day.
Your life without softball will be exactly same as it was before, except you’ll have a little bit more time on your hands… for now. You’ll build deeper relationships with people that actually care about you, and you’ll find passion in other things. Your undeniable work ethic won’t leave you; in fact, you’ll work harder than you ever have before at this whole “career” thing you have going on. And believe it or not, you’ll even learn to love running… asthma be damned!
The best part is that the pain and disappointment you’re feeling about your student-athlete experience and your softball career will end. You won’t have to carry that around with you any longer, and you’ll feel freer -- really. I know that the last two years have been tough on you with the injuries and the coaching changes, but the whole experience will shape you (us) in so many positive ways.
This may seem like the lowest point of your life, and thankfully, until your 26th year, it will be. But you’re going to be okay. Nope, scratch that. You’re going to be more than okay. You’re going to be great. You’ll take that kick-ass work ethic and prove to yourself and others over and over again that you were the right hire, that you are a good teammate, that you are a good friend.
From here on out, life as you know it is going to be different. Softball was a huge part of you, and still is. But you’ll find success in sports in other ways, I promise.
Until then, enjoy the ride. And take notes, because you are going to learn more about yourself over the next few years than you ever thought you could. Take risks. Love hard. Laugh often. Live every day like it’s your last, and know that you can be anything you dream to be.
I love you. Hope that’s not weird.