On Being The New Girl: Allume 2012

I recently showed up at a local high school for open pickleball play.

Before showing up I had only played 1 game of pickleball in my life.  But, I was addicted to the sport even before playing that one game.

For years I have been searching for something athletic to do.
I knew it wasn’t cycling – I’m too afraid of skinny tires. (Skinny anything for that matter.)
I knew it wasn’t water polo – I didn’t have the time to train, with two small children at home. (I suppose you have to like chlorine too.)
I knew it wasn’t triathlons – I absolutely hate running.  Running pantyhose, running noses, running late – I hate it all!

After seeing a video about pickleball and finding out that they play this sport in my town, I knew this was exactly what I have been searching for.

So I woke up early on Saturday morning, grabbed a bowl of cereal, hid my bedhead under a hat and headed out for the courts.

Upon arrival I was placed with 3 other players who were congenial but guarded.  Two of them were around my age (I turned 42 last week.)  The other was older than me by at least 20 years.  In fact, the rest of the people playing were at least 10 years my senior, perhaps even 15 or 20.  There was more silver hair out there than an AARP convention.

My group was very helpful and even forthcoming with advice and tips, even though I never stated how long I had (or had not) been playing.  Yet, just being there made my status  overwhelmingly obvious.  I was new.

What fascinated me was, when an older lady cycled into our game, she immediately picked up on my greenness and started telling everyone I was a newbie.  She had to have been 65, if she was anything, and I found her willingness to let everyone know my state of greenness amusing.  (Remember, I don’t suffer from low self-esteem, even on the pickleball court.)

It was eye-opening how important it was that she put me in my place.  Her tactics were very passive aggressive.  But her need for position was glaring.  It dawned on me that insecurity can be a life-long battle.  Regardless of age or accomplishment everybody needs to find their place and some people do that better than others.

At the end of this month I am going to a blogging conference on the other side of the country.  There will be women there from all walks of life, with all different sizes of blogs and varied expertise.  Some will be greenhorns.  Others have been at this thing for years.  Some are great designers.  Others are outstanding writers.

I have already read that some of them are nervous, anxious and unsure about what they will find at our gathering.  That’s ok.  I know for a fact it’s going to be great.

Of course, I have no idea what’s going to happen during the weekend.  But I do know that not one other blogger I meet is going to feel less than me.  No one will walk away from exchanging cards with me with a sense of inferiority.  No writer who sits next to me in a session will feel small or silly.

Instead, together we are going to laugh and grow and share and enjoy the opportunity that we have to be in the midst of other women who stay up way too late getting posts written, write ideas on the back of grocery store receipts, use crayons for hashing out rough drafts and couldn’t find their car keys unless they had blogged about it in the recent past.  (How’s that for a run-on sentence?)

My point is, everybody is new at some point in their lives.  But being new doesn’t have to be about jockeying (I only spelled that right because I looked at the tag on my grannypanties) for position.

Being new can be fun.
Being new can be enjoyable.
Being new can be a wonderful experience.

And if I have anything to do with it – it will be.


As my morning progressed on the pickleball courts I found myself playing with three women who were no less than 20 years my senior and had about 150 years of combined life experience on me.  And not one of them acted like she knew more than me.  Not one mentioned my forgetfulness of the score.  Not one tried to make me feel like anything other than a fellow player.  We laughed and congratulated one another on great shots.  We bickered over scores and slapped paddles at the end of games.

As I left the courts I felt great.  I was tired, happy and a better player than when I started in the morning.  And after a couple of hours, I wasn’t new anymore.  I was just another pickleballer going for that silly yellow whiffleball like a granny goin’ for an early-bird special.

Everybody has to be new sometime.  New can be good.

I can’t wait for my next experience at being the new girl.  I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

Comments (6)

  1. Reply K Emmons

    Loved teaching and playing pickleball when I taught P.E. – kind of miss it now that I read this article. It makes me smile – As for me, I think I’m going one more round with the Thursday night women’s soccer team. Always fun to find a place to hang out and enjoy new and old friends.

  2. Reply Laura Boggess

    Isn’t it interesting how being on a team together can bring out the good! I’ve never even heard of pickleball and I admire your courage to step into that situation. There is, after all, only one way to not be the newbie!

  3. Reply Jaimie B.

    Thank you for this, Debi!! I am so encouraged. I’ve seriously been like an emotional roller-coaster with Allume coming up. I appreciate your words, and also am now going to go Google what in the world Pickleball is!! 😉

    1. Reply Debi Stangeland

      Ha! Maybe we can play sometime. You are going to have a great time and I hope you come home refreshed and bursting with ideas.

    2. Reply LeeAnn Taylor

      Same here. Although it might be the pregnancy hormones factoring into the emotional roller-coaster too. Last night I put a complete guilt trip on myself for leaving my kids, and I never do that normally. Trying to keep perspective and this helped. Thanks!

      1. Reply Debi Stangeland

        Thanks for reading LeeAnn. I hope you have a great time!!

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