OBJECT: I’m 26, going on 15.

Pictured is a $5 volleyball that my husband bought from a Piggly-Wiggly in Hilton Head, SC. However, this post isn’t about my husband or the beach; It’s about volleyball and how it saved my life.

beach volleyball

There are certain social skills and life lessons that a girl is suppose to learn in high school– but I didn’t learn them. I was an extremely sheltered young person, which caused me to become socially awkward. Unlike most teenagers, I didn’t chatter on the phone with friends all night… because I didn’t know how to make friends. I didn’t go to parties, hang out in parking lots, or go out to eat with other kids after school… Sadly, at the age of 17 I thought my life was normal. I didn’t realize my lifestyle was creating social barriers — social barriers which still affect me negatively today.

From 6-11th grade the only outlet I had was Track and Field; a sport at which I excelled… During my Junior year, at the State Track Meet, many colleges began speaking with me about scholarships. I should have been excited, but I wasn’t. A harsh realization hit me– I didn’t want to run track anymore. I wanted to play volleyball.

And that’s what I did. Of course, volleyball didn’t immediately extinguish my social barriers, but it helped me a lot…. In December of my Senior year I was offered an NAIA volleyball scholarship to Pikeville College, which I immediately accepted.
However, this never would have been possible without my high school coach, Colonel Maynard, who is one of the best men I have ever met.

I finally got to move out of my house, and into a dorm; where I was able to discover what the world was really like.. Which, I quickly realized, was the polar opposite of the sheltered view I had of the world while in high school…

Sure, it took me approximately a year and 1/2 to accommodate myself to college life… After 18 years of shelter the concept of branching out can be difficult… But eventually I figured out that I was allowed to make my own choices, and be the person I wanted to be, not the person I was told to be by my mother (whose overprotection had been a product of best intentions; don’t get me wrong, my mother is a wonderful woman, and I love her dearly)… During my journey of self-discovery volleyball did a good job of keeping me out of trouble.

By my Junior year of college I was finally living, for the first time in my life; I had my own political beliefs, my own set of social beliefs, my own group of friends, my own job, and I was pursuing a major that I picked. Looking back, I realize all of my decisions weren’t correct, but at least they were my own.

Now I’m 26. The social barriers caused by my sheltered high school experience are still a part of me, and they may never completely disappear. But, I can proudly say that I’m learning to adjust. I’ll always be socially awkward, but now I’m less anxious about it.

If I hadn’t picked volleyball I probably would have went to community college, while living at home…. Forever living the life of an overprotected 15 year-old.

This also taught me something about parenting: kids must be given the opportunity to make mistakes, and experience things while they are young. Otherwise their ability to become a proper adult will be severely damaged.

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