Batter Up!

Jun 12, 2013 by

          I hit the batting cages with four of my baseball teammates last night. I needed to work on my swing. It’s weak at best. I’ve been repeatedly advised to keep my eye on the ball. I’m beginning to wonder if there’s some secret meaning to that tip, because I feel like I am watching the ball; I’m just not consistently hitting it. I think it’s more of a hand-eye coordination problem than an issue with the direction of my gaze. Either way, practice was in order.

          When we arrived at the cages, I watched as balls of ridiculously high speeds flew toward batters. My pupils widened in apprehension. Had I just volunteered to break my arm? As we watched the different batters, we noticed cages that offered slower ball speeds, reducing our chances of potential death or dismemberment. I saw a boy, who looked as though he was about 7 years old, batting in one of the cages at the end of the row. Child-paced balls! Perfect! That was the cage for me.

          While waiting our turns, my teammates and I began chatting with the twenty-something couple batting beside us. Their swings were strong, and they hit almost every ball. Relative to me, they were professionals. When we praised their obvious skill, the girl, Erin, said that she had been playing her whole life. The guy, Jeff, had been playing for seven years. Throughout the evening, they gave us pointers on our swings. They were especially helpful to me, being the least experienced of the group. Erin coached me on my stance, letting me know the importance of keeping my back arm up, my legs bent, and my feet planted. Jeff encouraged me to aim to hit the ball at the end of the bat and to follow through with a level swing, as opposed to my choppy one. He also boosted my confidence, letting me know that I was doing very well for only having played twice, particularly compared to girls in their league. He said girls who have been playing a lot longer than I have typically shied away from the ball. (He may have taken this flattering downward comparison back if he’d seen my attempts to catch, but let’s focus on batting.) He told me that most of these girls hadn’t even hit the ball once, so the fact that I got a run during my first game was amazing. He also framed my feeble hits as strategic. They would force the opposing team to run forward to get the ball, giving me more (much needed) time to run to first. Erin agreed. Every time it was my turn to bat, Erin and Jeff watched in support and cheered my name in encouragement. Whenever I hit the ball, they jolted in excitement with my teammates. They were so nice!

          This experience with Erin and Jeff goes to show that wonderful people are everywhere. I simply need to continue to make an effort to meet them. You never know who could walk into your life if you don’t invite them in. I’m proud to say that I’ve been getting chatty with strangers lately. I have totally become that girl who talks to people in the elevator. The more regularly that I interact with people I don’t know, the more social confidence that I gain. It doesn’t matter that most of these brief encounters don’t turn into new friends. The key learning here is that I’m becoming confident enough to initiate social exchanges.

Happiness Tip: Talk to strangers!

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