A Letter to My Younger Self-Blog by SO MK Saladino

Dear younger MK,

I want to let you know that every decision you are making right now is leading your older self to the moment she is in now and you are exactly where you need to be. Every tough decision has led you to the path you are on right now and I would not change a single thing.  

First, I am going to bring it all the way back to when you were five years old. Those days life was great! You were a dope baller (basketball and softball of course), school was a piece of cake, you were incredibly shy, and boys had cooties. The only advice I have for you is, trust me it’s not the end of the world if you can’t style the hair you want to that day because mom says it looks crazy. Listen to mom, she knows best. 

Fast forward to middle school, you’ve tried basically every sport and your favorites are basketball and softball. Sports still come easy to you. Mom made sure you always listened to your coaches and didn’t sugar coat it when you had a bad game or weren’t trying hard enough. School is still a piece of cake for you and this is when you start to get less shy. You absolutely hate the fact that you are shy and want to be able to have fun in any situation without feeling awkward. You force yourself to talk to people and make tons of friends (girl friends of course because boys still have cooties). At this point all I have to say is I know you are trying very hard to branch out and make friends, but still be yourself. Don’t try and change just so someone else will like you. 

Now you’re in high school. This is where you make the best decision of your life and decide you want to try volleyball. Only now, you are not the only athletic one around. The summer before ninth grade, you go to one volleyball camp to learn how to play, but that was not pretty. You thought it was enough though because sports still come pretty easy to you at this point. You show up to high school tryouts with your two friends and don’t take it as seriously as you should have because you’ve never had to. You put the effort in, but you laugh and mess around a little bit more than you probably should have considering there were 37 freshman trying out and only seven were going to make the team. After tryouts your friends and you take a look at the team list and to your surprise your name is not on that list. You are heartbroken and shocked. This is the first rejection you have ever gotten from any sport. You are upset and mad at yourself because you know you could have tried harder. 

That day you learned a very important lesson that has shaped you into the player you are today. Always give 100% effort in everything you do and don’t ever think that you are guaranteed anything. Everything you do, you have to work for and earn. Sure you were naturally good when you were younger, but now you’re older and this is the real world where everyone around you has talent. You need to prove yourself to coaches. That day created a fire inside of you and I cannot thank you enough for following your heart and not giving up. You knew that this sport was not any ordinary sport. Something about it created butterflies in your stomach and all you could think about all day was wanting to get your hands on a volleyball. You knew that your volleyball career did not end here. Thank you for having the courage to not give up. 

Now you officially start high school, this is a very different experience for you. You start a new school, everyone around you has athletic talent, school isn’t as easy as it once was, you are uncomfortable and become shy again. This is when you decide to quit all other sports and stick with volleyball. You tryout for club (taking those tryouts seriously because now you know) and make the team. This is the best club season of your life. This is where your true love for the sport really grows you make some of your best friends and it’s amazing. 

My advice for my high school self is to not care so much. Everyone is going to have an opinion. Just show people the real you and if they like you great, if they don’t, it wasn’t meant to be. Be more confident in yourself. I know you had a rough start to volleyball but your skills have grown so much. Stop caring so much about what other people are thinking and just go out there and play. 

Now it’s senior year. You are awful at the college process. You blow it off for a while, but I know that’s mainly because you are scared. My advice to you is, stop being so scared, it will all work out. You are stressed about making the wrong decision because you’ve had such great experiences with volleyball this far that you are nervous your luck will run short. This will  not be the case one bit. When you show up to Geneseo preseason you will realize that it was the best decision you could have made. You will fall in love with the school and the team. Your love for volleyball will continue to grow. You will feel comfortable right from the start and that awful shy stage you hate going through will be the shortest one yet. 

As I am getting older, the biggest lessons I am learning are; follow your heart, take risks, be outgoing, be confident in yourself, and always give 100% effort. The only time you will have any regrets in life is if you know you could’ve given more. Thank you young MK for all the decisions you made that have led me to where I am right now.

Love Always,

An older and wiser MK (not much wiser though, still a lot of learning to do).

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