I’ve run the gamut on emotions on this blog, from despair to exultation. And I feel like that’s just the part of any journey in life, but especially so in sports. It’s fine, I can deal with it. I’m now experienced enough to know the lows won’t last long, and the highs won’t satisfy me. I can let the feelings of despair was over me and drain away, and I can feel happy and excited one day, and I know they will go away the next.
What I am finding curious is the tricky emotion called jealousy. Way back when I started I confessed to being jealous when my coach taught others. That’s something I got over, I see him coaching on a daily basis now, and I find it interesting to watch, not at all painful like it used to be. I guess part of it is back then I only saw him one day a week. I wanted him to spend his time with me, not other people. But now I see him daily and I spend way too much time with him, so that’s fine.
I also like to watch others train and see their techniques and see what troubles they have. It makes me feel better to see others struggle in way that I struggle or in their own ways.
But I haven’t totally left jealousy behind yet. As I recently confessed, there is a girl who joined our group who is dedicated. She is not as dedicated as me, but she has the perfect badminton body, is Chinese (can understand everything easily) and is younger than me. She is improving quickly and I don’t like it one bit.
I’m not proud of this feeling because she is a really nice woman, is very dedicated, and as a fellow female, I feel like women in sports should support and bolster each other. Especially as I complain all the time that there aren’t enough women.
So I’ve been trying to get over my feeling, but it’s hard. You see, nobody has improved more than me. In the past two years, no one has gone from below my level to above my level. No one has even come close…and I like it that way.
Now this girl has the chance. She’s still below me but the gap is closing. And last night my coach and I were sitting next to each other watching her (and others) play. She was playing an especially good game and my coach was praising her. I was keeping tight lipped about it. Instead of shouting out “nice one!” when she did something good I was just sitting there silently (and sullenly) wishing she would fuck up. (I’m not proud of that. Just being honest.) After some shots my coach would yell out encouragement and said “gaoshou.” (Expert). He’s only yelled that out to encourage me before, never her. That’s MY thing goddamn it. Not hers.
And then my coach said it.
“She’s improved a lot,” he said to me. “Soon she’s gonna be as good as you.”
I nodded but inside I was livid. All my trying to be the bigger person, all my trying to remember the sisterhood of sportsmanship was gone. All I could think was, “No”
“This bitch is going down,” I said to myself. (Again, this poor girl is just a nice, hard working badminton player and doesn’t deserve my vitriol fired at her. But those were my feelings.)
So I needed to reassert myself. Show everyone who the Queen B is. And I would have to do it on the court.
So I played that night as if I was on a mission. To not just get an occasional gaoshou, but to be a mother fucking gaoshou. “Enough with this incremental shit,” I said to myself. “Stay in ready position, focus, be careful of your strength and win every fucking game.”
And I did. Whatever I said, whatever I felt, it worked. I played amazing and it wasn’t a fluke. I was playing with one guy and he actually asked me to play the back after half a game. Usually a girl plays the front and only plays the back if she is obviously stronger than the guy. He was better than me, and we were playing against guys, but I guess he saw something in me to ask me to move to the rear.
“Wow, Xiao Bing, you have really improved,” said one guy in my club who I hadn’t played with in a few weeks. “Niu bu nü,” he said which literally means cow pu**y girl but in slang means amazingly awesome girl.
“Tell my coach,” I said like I was a hotel asking a satisfied customer to leave a review on Trip advisor.
Because my coach wasn’t watching. My coach was teaching on the opposite side of the courts for a few hours and wasn’t seeing how well I was playing. After his classes he came over and called for me to play mixed doubles but I was in the middle of a three-game series with other people. He played with the other girl against some other people. When I was finished I trotted over and said, “Xiao Bing is here! Next game I play!’
They were only about halfway through their game so I sat and watched. I noticed the girl had reverted to her normal play and was missing easy shots, or setting up smashes which was annoying my coach. He never yells at her the way he yells at me, but I could see he was annoyed and I got some petty satisfaction out of that.
But the real satisfaction came when we played. I had been playing for hours, but my technique was tight and I was still doing everything right and it wasn’t strange or surprising like it has been in the past. My coach was really tired and he was quiet and not playing as well. But I was…and he knew it. “Xiao Bing,” he said nodding. “One time you went too far back. Otherwise you played that game exactly right. All the mistakes were mine, not yours.”
And it wasn’t the previous shock and surprise. There was no “what got into you today?” feeling. It was just that I played like I was supposed to. I didn’t get every smash directed at me, I didn’t keep every shuttle in, but I was always ready, always in the correct position and always had the right ideas so there wasn’t much my coach could fault me for.
I just decided to be better, and somehow it worked. I have the foundations, I have the training, there was really nothing stopping me from being better except myself. So I got out of my own way. So in a way I appreciate this woman who made me angry. She made me stop pussyfooting around and just go out there and do it.
After I had changed for the night my coach again called me over. “Really, good job today. Really.”
I nodded my appreciation and then I leaned over and whispered, “That girl isn’t going to be as good as me. I will always be better. Don’t forget.” I said pointing my finger at him.
He burst out laughing. Then I got all contrite because she really is a nice girl. “But don’t tell her I said that, kay?” I said all sweet and nice again.
Guess there is something to be said for being a jealous bitch.