We met a few college seniors and they were headed to a house party nearby and we decided to tag along. We met many drunk party animals that night, and although we were all having a good time mingling with each other, in the back of my mind I was trying to answer a few very important questions: How would we be able to finish our trip with the amount of money we had? Where would I find a second or third tennis racquet in case I broke a tennis string in a match? Also, where the hell are we going to stay?
One of the questions were answered quickly because apparently it was common for other drunken university students to pass out at the house they were partying at, so we took the opportunity and found some space and went to sleep. Now if this was later on in my life when I struggled with panic and anxiety disorders, my body would quickly let me know that I was in trouble. If you think that the next day after drinking alcohol was bad think again, the fear of recurring physical sensations of anxiety and the experiences of the morning of your hangover can greatly add to the possibility of having multiple hangovers and panic attacks in the coming days, and they are not fun I can tell you from experience. But back when I didn’t have the fear of physical sensations of anxiety that led to my diagnosis of having health anxiety I was OK, I just had a massive headache, I was a little dehydrated, but I was OK.
After sharing stories about how great each of our nights were and how crappy we were feeling we needed to come up with a plan, my two buddies were quickly becoming home sick and lost the motivation to continue playing tennis tournaments and roughing it out the way we were doing. I couldn’t blame them, it takes true tennis warriors mentally to consistently do what we were doing for a long period, and many low level professional tennis players do just that in the hopes of one day breaking through. My friends had enough money to catch a bus back to Canada and later on that day they decided to end their journey.
Now I was on my own and confused. If I went back now I would have felt like this whole journey was a failure, and I reminded myself that one day I would have a family, a steady job etc., and I would be looking back at these experiences and great memories no matter how difficult things were at the moment. So I continued on in my tennis journey alone. I asked each tournament director in each tournament if it was OK to sleep in my van in the parking lot during tennis tournaments and was allowed each time. I eventually was able to bring in some money through stringing other players’ tennis racquets and it got me through all the way to the end of my six-week tennis journey in California.
It wasn’t the most successful trip result wise and there were no big victories or ATP points earned, but it was a great success to me because when things got tough I could have easily gave up and went back home, but I kept at it. The lessons that these experiences have taught me are priceless and can’t be taught by anyone, only experienced and understood. I returned home a winner in my books and looked forward to the next tennis adventure. But little did I know 6 years of debilitating panic and anxiety would ruin my life soon…
Thanks for reading Athletes and Anxiety a closer look into the life of a low level tennis professional. Follow the anxious athlete blog for your daily dose of inspiration as well as the best anxiety support you’ll find online.