Bridesmaid no more…

I posted a cell phone picture I took at the Nike store in London on Monday, July 6th which celebrates Roger Federer’s 15th grand slam. How fitting that I should celebrate a win from Federer at Wimbledon ’09 as it was his epic battle with Nadal in ’08 that rejuvenated my interest in tennis and ultimately spurred on my latest venture, traveling the ATP tour.

I’m home from my European odyssey. I checked out the French Open; a 250 tournament in Halle, Germany; another 250 in Eastbourne, England; and finished it all off with a few days at Wimbledon. At each step of the way, I could not believe that I was on my journey and thus struggled with bouts of loneliness, sadness, and panic. Go figure that living your dream does not make you deliriously happy all the time. As all things relate to tennis, the Wimbledon men’s final between Roddick and Federer duly provided my personal ah, ha moment.

After Roddick managed to defeat Hewitt and Murray to set up his 21st encounter with Federer, I was one of the few who did not believe that Federer would find the match a cakewalk. I had seen something in Roddick’s bearing that hinted at a new found confidence or self-belief. Additionally, in his match against Murray, I saw for the first time a deadly combination of brains and brawn. Just as swiftly as I imagined that Roddick might get the chance to redo the past and get another shot at a grand slam with his old nemesis, I was presented with the men’s final. I tried to greet the occasion with the equanimity I pulled out for the French Open but once the 2nd set got underway and it looked like Federer was going down two sets to love to Roddick, my true colors came out and I was a rabid Federer fan again. You should have heard me: Fed, you own this boy! Don’t you dare go down 2 sets to Andy Roddick! Who the heck does he think he is? He’s Andy Roddick and you are Federer! I was absolutely ridiculous! But it’s like I was whispering in Roddick’s ear and he too questioned his ability to triumph so easily. Pretty soon, he lost the 2nd and 3rd set, recovered to win the 4th and then tried to stem Federer in the 5th. In the end, I think the occasion proved too big for Roddick and Federer’s own belief in his ability to achieve overcame Roddick’s new and still fledgling belief in his ability to still play with the big boys!

Roddick won me over with his fight in this match and I suspect I’ll gladly cheer for him in the future, as long as he’s not playing any of my faves. Still I appreciated the match even more so for the lesson it taught me about the power of self-belief and by extension, self definition. As I think back on my struggles with the European portion of my journey thus far, I’ve come to see it as a challenge of self-definition. The disbelief I’ve felt at moments comes from a real sense that this cannot be me. I’m not this person! I don’t take off for places unknown at a moment’s notice. I’ve dreamed of doing that, but I never really thought I could. Yet, here I am three days back from a trip that I only imagined taking several years ago. Even though I struggle to believe that I’m creating and shaping this life on the road, my friends are not having the same problem; they continue to tell me that this is exactly who I’ve always been. Last night my best friend said: this is who you were meant to be all along!

Herein lies my challenge: to accept and believe that I am this woman, that I can live the dream and it won’t go away unless I decide to give it away. I fear that if I don’t embrace this aspect of myself fully, I’ll retreat to being the bridesmaid and never the bride and darn it who doesn’t want to be the bride?! Well, at least for the dress and the attention.

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