Pressure is a Privilege … Or Is It?

by Emily Siansky

For the past eight years, I have played competitive travel softball. Through the dozens of camps and clinics I’ve attended, a phrase I’ve often heard is “pressure is a privilege.” In terms of sports, this mantra implies that you should be grateful if you happen to be in a stressful situation. For example, you’re up to bat with everything on the line and you have to be the one who scores your teammate to win the game. Having that pressure to perform is a good thing, right?

This has not been the case for me. Instead of using it as something to fuel my motivation, I’ve internalized the saying and it’s become harmful to my mental health and overall well being. It also manifested into other aspects of my life, including my education and relationships. The feeling that I have to perfectly execute everything I do has led to insane amounts of burnout and feelings of depression. It often made high school a tough experience for me and contributed to an anxiety diagnosis.

Before I even stepped foot into Sherwood, I was aware of the exceptional softball program here. Being on varsity as a freshman was the first time in my life where I was playing for something other than myself. I was playing for the school and all the other girls who have come before me. I have had the most fun playing with Sherwood across my chest, but I also want to honestly recount my experiences. Playing for Sherwood only amplified the pressure I put on myself. I didn’t want to disappoint all the other girls who have worked so hard to build this program up.

The pressure I put on myself did make my high school experience harder and probably less enjoyable than it was for others. Instead of going out with my friends, I worried about getting my next homework assignment done. There have been too many nights when I can remember looking at my friends’ Instagram stories while I was crying at home over my so-called “not perfect” grades.

But soon I’m going to have a chance to reset my mentality when I head to upstate New York to play softball in college. It’s an opportunity for sports to be an outlet to release the pressure rather than contributing to it. It is an opportunity to find that elusive balance between school and fun. I hope that I can take pressure off of myself. Although it’s going to be hard for me to change my mentality, I know that I’ll be able to let myself exhale for once. College is meant to be fun– so it’s time that I start letting myself actually enjoy life instead of stressing over things.