Basketball is Psychology XXIV
Written by Hanna Hall
Basketball is so much more than a game. It’s life lessons, relationships, experiences, struggles, adversity, successes, and failures. This is how I fell in love with the game, how it’s taken me to the highest and lowest points in my life, and how I will continue to love it for as long as I can dream of.
I’ve always been the type of person to strive to do things the right way. A bit of a perfectionist for sure. As an athlete in this generation this can be both a blessing and a curse. It allowed me to push myself on and off the court to reach a lot of the goals I’ve set. On the other hand, it also allowed me to push myself to a point where I lost myself and almost the game I love most.
I shared my story through this video in hopes of it reaching athletes and people who may be experiencing, have experienced, or possibly may go through similar struggles I have encountered, in their own lives. I want people to understand that they are not alone through these struggles, that mental illness is not a choice we make. Looking back on this past year of my life, I have learned so many things that I wish I knew when I was younger, which could have changed things drastically for me; why I knew it was time to share my story.
As athletes we are often put on a pedestal. Expected to be tougher, stronger, and have more courage than those around us. We live in a world of expectations, standards, and views that when not upheld, take away your chances of being “the best”. These expectations, combined with an athletes natural competitive attitude, can often actually hold us back from reaching many goals in life.
However, this doesn’t just go for athletes. We live in a generation where nothing is good enough, there is always something more out there to reach for. Where valuing ourselves falls on the bottom of the list, and self-care and compassion don’t fall far behind. We wonder why mental health is surrounded by such a stigma. To take care of our mental health would mean we actually have to take care of ourselves, prioritize our feelings, put ourselves first.
We often fail to recognize the importance of balancing self-care and hard work, and the significant relationship this balance has on success in both sports and life. If we don’t love the person we are, and stop to celebrate not only the accomplishments, but the battles and adversity that have all been a part of our journeys, we will never be able to reach our true potential. By not valuing ourselves enough to take care of our mental health, we can miss out on so much opportunity for success leaving us short of being truly happy.
I’ve learned that the strongest and most important thing in life is the thing that works between your ears, without your brain all else fails. So think about it, why would we take care of it any less than we would take care of a physical often more noticeable injury?
The struggles I’ve gone through this past year helped me understand my value as an individual on this earth, they allowed me to realize I am not just an athlete. Taking care of yourself by resting, listening to your body, letting yourself be emotional, reflecting and celebrating your accomplishments, and loving who you are through it all, does not make you mentally “weak” or “soft”. Understanding your value and self-worth is a strength that is so underestimated and uncommon that it has become seen as out of the ordinary or arrogant to love and put yourself first.
Until you yourself are your biggest supporter, and the person you can rely on most, there will always be doors of opportunity left unopened. So yes, it is okay to give yourself a pat on the back. Be proud of who you are and what you’ve accomplished, and most importantly celebrate the little things. Remember in the end you are human which means you are allowed to struggle, to feel, to hurt, and to reach out for help. It does not make you weak. Once you begin to value yourself enough to do so, you will realize how much strength you have inside.
Living in the world of athletics and looking at the struggles I tried to face alone, I realized it takes more strength to reach out and prioritize myself, than to go that extra mile and face these struggles on my own every day. There is only one you that exists, so before all else value yourself. Your mental health and your happiness are just as important as your physical health. Being viewed as “stronger” and “tougher” than everyone around you is not the real testament of mental strength, loving yourself through all your struggles and battles is.
Written by Hanna Hall