Keeping it in perspective

When we are passionate about something, we get caught up in it to the point that it doesn’t only bring us joy, but lots of frustration, tears and doubting. Whether you are a student who failed an important test after studying really hard for it, a lawyer with a troubling case in front of you, a doctor that is trying to help a patient with a tough diagnosis, or a professional tennis player struggling with tough parts of the career, like in my case, life always teaches us a lesson. People always say it is what we do with moments like these and the way we handle failure that matters, it can help shape us and make us stronger. Yet we all have invested so much that you can’t help but get upset when it doesn’t go your way.

This summer as I have traveled through Europe and Africa alone for weeks at a time, I have experienced some really tough situations on and off the court. The only way I have been able to deal with them and overcome them was trying to put it all in perspective and realize that at the end of the day, it is not that big of a deal. There is always something bigger, more important in your world that could be happening so don’t stress about these things, especially if you can’t control them. This, of course, doesn’t apply if it comes to your health or the health of your loved ones, because there is nothing that compares to that. Yet, with everything else, sometimes we get so caught up in them that it is hard to differentiate what we can and can’t control, and end up putting too much pressure on ourselves when there is nothing we could do to change the outcome.

In the moment, you feel like it is the most important thing in your life. If it is not going the way you planned it, it seems like everything is falling apart. The worst part can be when it doesn’t go your way because of outside factors and you still fail after you have done everything you possibly could, or thought you could in that moment. This summer, I encountered a lot of situations that I felt were unjust, and whether that was because I was a girl traveling alone, people with authority just refused to do things the right way because of their unknown reasons, or just because life can be unfair at times. Either way, I still don’t know what I would do differently in those situations but I had to find a way to deal with them in order to be able to move pass them.

To start one of my trips this summer, I had a layover in Paris to Tunisia and just as one of the people working at the CDG airport in Paris was about to print my boarding pass, a woman employee next to him starting asking questions for all the additional COVID protocols. She refused to accept the COVID test I was holding and even though I have been vaccinated and have entered the same country three weeks prior with the same documents I was holding in my hand at this point, she didn’t care. I tried to fight it but as I had four hours until the flight I decided to just go ahead and get another PCR test (which was another 100 euros) as they said I had time to get the results in time and still get on this flight. This ended up not being true because even though I got my results an hour and a half prior to the flight, they refused to let me on and before I was able to say anything they returned my bags and sent me to an office to reschedule my flight.

I was flying to Tunisia for a tournament. It wasn’t my first time there but it was my first time traveling there alone, and I just wanted to make it there before the dark as I had to take the transport to the hotel by myself. After many arguments, few hundred dollars more, three additional hours of walking back and forth from one office to another, asking police to escort me through the baggage claim (again), and hearing people tell me it is not their problem but mine, I had to buy another ticket and didn’t end up making it to the hotel in Tunisia until 1am. Even though I have traveled to many places in the world alone, there are times and places that as a girl you just shouldn’t travel to by yourself no matter how safe or secure you might feel. You can be aware of a lot of situations yet there are still too many things out of your control. This trip just felt like that, for example leaving the airport in pitch black and while everyone is off to their families, no one alone but me, I had to approach a taxi driver to ask for a ride because due to COVID protocols I couldn’t have a driver pick me up, and before I knew it, I was surrounded by 15 men offering me a ride. I was lucky enough I made it safely to the hotel and nothing happened other than missing a flight and having to spend more than expected, but during those few hours, the stress and worry levels were way too high.

Another situation occurred within the first week of being there, where I was cheated out of a match. Tennis can always get nasty especially in tournaments without referees present on the court, but you would think things are different at a professional tournament with a referee calling the lines and the score. I know they have almost an impossible job to see the lines from one point of view but when you have people leaving the match because they see how bad the calls are and they are embarrassed to witness it, there is just not much you can do as a player. I have been cheated by a player before many times but never by a referee and a player with a coach on their side. While my opponent’s coach has been talking to the referee the whole time (which is not allowed), I got a warning when I tried to ask her regarding a call that was over a meter out. I said one sentence to her during the whole match. You would think I am the one in control because I’m the one with the racket in my hand hitting the ball, but I had absolutely no control over the outcome of this match, and that, I just could not accept at the time. It would be like if you studied for months for a big test and you are pleased with all your answers but professor is not because you didn’t answer them in the way or style he wanted and even though you answers are correct, he decides to fail you, and there is nothing you can do about it. Complain? To who? They don’t listen. Supervisor protects his people because if they are at fault so is he. Talk to other players? All they said was we have seen it happen before and there is just nothing you can do about it but forget it and try again next time.

Just when I thought I experienced it all in this place, I had another experience a few weeks later. Summertime in Africa can be brutal with the heat especially playing on a hard court in the middle of the day without any wind… Week prior to this one they decided to stop matches mid set because it was too hot to play, so they postponed it for the evening, like they would for a rain delay, just this time it was a heat delay. This day it was 41 Celsius (105 Fahrenheit). The following week, the day of my match at 10am it was 43C (109F) before I even went on the court, and my opponent and I when we walked on the court, we expected to come off it very shortly, but that did not happen. We went three hours, three sets in the brutal heat of 46C (115F) without stopping. People were pointing their phones with the temperature on them to the supervisor but he said that wasn’t right as it was still normal, within the guidelines, on his thermometer. We were the only main draw match that day and he didn’t want to stop and postpone the qualifying matches for later because of us, but as they don’t play out a full third set, we were the only match left out there in the heat. Have you ever gotten a sore throat and lost your voice from a hot air and inability to breath it in? Me neither, until this day. The next day, they had a huge gap between the morning and evening matches because they couldn’t afford to have so many players complain, but one or two, not worth their stress.

These are just some examples from my personal experiences through my tennis career this summer, but this happens across all careers, all countries, in all areas of life. There are always parts that we won’t agree with, that we aren’t able to control. So what do we do? Quit? Always a possibility. But where would we be if we always quit when things get hard!?

Everything in life happens for a reason so when injustice, corruption, and failure directly affect us, best we can do is learn from it and move on. Take a step back, be grateful for all the great things life has to offer us and for our loved ones, and use this as a learning lesson for the future. In the end, it is just a match, a test, or even a relationship that ended badly… as long as we know we have done our best in that situation, just let it go. This doesn’t mean to forget about it or about the way it made us feel, so exploited, but use it so next time we don’t repeat the same situation.

Although I am still not completely sure what to do differently in situations like these… Any ideas? The more we keep going and keep pursuing, the more unfair situations will come our way… so I would love to hear some advices on how you deal with tough, unjust moments in life because they seem to come in many shapes and forms…


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