Tennis Helped Transform Me from Sad and Lonely to Righteously Angry at the Patriarchy

My current crush fell in love with another man last fall. We agreed to stop talking a couple of weeks ago, so he could have space to figure his life out. Who knows if he will reach out again. I spent a lot of last week sad about this, listening to melodramatic Ariana Grande and Jason Derulo songs and posting angsty selfies on Snapchat. On top of that, I felt that one of my friends had not been putting as much effort into our friendship as I had, and when I expressed this, she did not react well. I also waited to hear back from an internship I wanted yet received no word about. To describe my emotions with great eloquence: everything sucked.

Two Tuesday nights ago, as I moped about V – my crush who said he also had a crush on me and also fell in love with someone else – I went to one of my weekly tennis leagues. In this league, I play three games back to back. I like it because tennis serves as a great way to release my rage at the patriarchy and also people who like Maroon 5 and the Chainsmokers exercise and meet people.

tennis racquet for the quiet voice blog lol

A snap of when I first started getting back into tennis in October! So excited for when the weather gets warmer so I can play outside again.

The first guy I played had this kinda hot toned body and a name that rhymes with Lick, so I will call him Lick, even though he will never read this blog just like no one reads this blog because it’s lame as f*ck lol ok bye. Our match started off pretty even, with both of us breaking each other’s serves and playing neck to neck at 2 games to 2. Then, he won the third game, and I said we should head back to the big group, because the person organizing our league said we should go back at 8:45, and the clock had just struck 8:45. Lick looked at me and said with this assertive tone that only a privileged white man could muster, “No, let’s keep playing,” and I said, in my more feminine and gentle voice, “it’s 8:45,” and he said, “Yeah that’s fine, let’s play another game,” in which I should’ve said, “I want to value the other players’ time so let’s head back” but instead I said “okay, that’s fine,” as I cursed myself for not standing my ground.

Lick whooped my butt that next game. Mind you, up until this point, I had moped and felt sad for myself the entire tennis match. For the first 45 minutes, this went down inside my brain:

Me, after serving an ace: even though my serve has been stable this whole match, it’s clear that V’s feelings for me aren’t stable, I def don’t have a chance, omg I’m so sad and mopey.

Me, after running across the entire court to return a dropshot and managing to win the point: the way I ran after that ball represents how V not wanting to talk means he’s running away from me because I expressed myself too forwardly in that one message I sent, omg my poor heart.

Me, after wiping a bead of sweat from my forehead after a long point: why can’t I just wipe away my attraction to men like I just wiped that bead of sweat off my forehead, omg why must I suffer so.

But, as Lick crushed me in that last game we played right after 8:45, I felt my sadness transform into something else. Somehow, the utter hopelessness of my tennis match started to shift my angst into anger. As Lick slammed a volley down the line way out of my reach, I thought to myself, wait, why the heck didn’t I just tell him that we should stop playing at 8:45? When he somehow started to return my lobs hit with tons of top spin, this anger toward Lick seeped into my feelings about the situation with V. I started thinking to myself, wait, why do I give a f*ck if a random man is going to message me back? Where the heck did I learn that my self-worth or my happiness should in any way be dependent on an unfortunately attractive, unfortunately accomplished man?

This slow-burning anger followed me into my next game, in which I also started off 2 games to 2 and then proceeded to lose. At this point, as I played yet another white man whose named rhymed with Lick, my thoughts traveled far from tennis and into the realm of rage at what messages I had internalized from the patriarchy. As I warmed up my serve, I think I might have even mumbled some of these feelings under my breath, like, “wait a freaking second Thomas, if V never messages me back and/or continues to fall in love with this other guy and/or trips and descends into a lava pit, me not being in his life is his loss? I’m a compassionate, relatively emotionally and intellectually intelligent, well-read guy who works to improve himself and my self-worth is in no way defined by if a man talks to me or not. In fact, I could redirect this time moping about V toward my friendships, research, mentoring, therapy, and preparing for Ariana Grande’s next album. V bye!”

iconic text from my cousin yay

Ok, look at this iconic text my little cousin who I consider my sister sent me in response to one of my angsty snaps. Yeah I need to talk with her about not using AAVE, and also I feel so lucky to have such an affirming presence in my life.

Even though I lost a lot of tennis that night, I won back my self-respect and a radical acceptance that though I want V to talk to me when he feels ready, if he does not, I will still continue doing my best to promote compassion and social justice and BlackPink and Ariana Grande despite Ari’s messy cultural appropriation lately. If my one friend who I felt like had not been putting enough effort into our friendship still does not want to put more effort into our friendship, I will keep investing in friendships where the energy feels reciprocal. I had let my sadness have its time. I felt ready to immerse myself in the righteous anger that would help topple what made me feel sad in the first place: the patriarchal notion that I should care if a man wants me or that I should over-compensate for a friend who may invest more in a man than me.

The day after that tennis league, I learned that I got accepted for my top choice internship, where I will get to provide individual and group psychotherapy at a community mental health clinic with an emphasis on LGBT and HIV/AIDS healthcare. Later that week I had a supportive conversation with a faculty member about some of the discrimination I have experienced in my professional life. The next week, I beat Lick, the first one, 7 games to 2, and he acted a lot nicer than before and I kinda like him now. While I still feel hurt by some parts of my life – the racism I experience, the general devaluing of friendship in society, etc. – I let myself feel angry, and I have hope I can use that anger to change things for the better. Just like with the many games that comprise a single tennis match, life now feels rife with chances to recover. I feel excited to give myself some of those chances, just as I have given them to others.

tennis snapchat for the quiet voice blog

Another random snap. So maybe playing tennis has exposed me to more attractive men, idk it’s shallow and it is what it is, thank u next!

This post is so weird and extra so just like, what are your reactions or feelings? To tennis, my hopeless crush on V, friends who you feel may not invest as much effort as you do, my general weirdness, etc.? Hope you are all well and see you next post!



Filed under Personal, Society

15 responses to “Tennis Helped Transform Me from Sad and Lonely to Righteously Angry at the Patriarchy

  1. eeeeee

    Congratulations on getting the internship! It sounds amazing and a good match for you! Rooting for you, hope everything settles well and the way it’s supposed to. : ) King of kicking ass at tennis and chipping away at the patriarchy

  2. I like the weirdness. Keep up the good work.

  3. I also like the weirdness. You write so openly and I also like that bit of humour. I used to play squash and it helped keep me sane. There was the side benefit of seeing some hot guys in the change room too. So keep on playing tennis. Don’t let your crush control or influence how you react.

    p.s. I don’t really listen to Maroon 5 (whew) but I think the Chainsmokers are ok. (why do I feel so nervous telling you this?) lol…

  4. Your weirdness is the right kind of weird. As someone who also has these complex emotional arcs over time of which I am peculiarly aware, I appreciate hearing about yours. PS this is Honora’s mom.

  5. Honestly the first thing I got from this was DAMMIT the only other person I know who likes tennis and he’s a million miles away Grrrr. Tennis is the only sport I like to do apart from running and we bought racquets last year and I thought yessssss but no, we have not played past an open day at the club I don’t want to join on my own.

    Also on Time to Talk and #RunandTalk day in the UK, it’s great to hear how practising sport helped you unlock those feelings. And you beat Dick. I mean Lick. Yes, Lick. You beat him. And you got the internship.

    • One day Liz we will meet in person and it will be magical! I love how we both enjoy tennis and running, though it seems I prefer tennis and you’re a running expert and I am not a running expert at all. Thank you for all of your support and for vibing with my humor and weirdness. (:

  6. x.w.

    Hi Thomas,
    Congratulations on your internship and the victory at tennis court !! I will always be rooting for you!
    I really enjoyed reading this blog (I mean as a story it’s fun to read. But i know you were experiencing pain when this story was happening and I’m sorry about that). I don’t think you emotions are weird at all. I remember those times when I have feelings for my crush(who was not interested in me), and how hard it was to go back to be the “normal self”. And like you were thinking about v when playing tennis, I couldn’t enjoy the things when I tried to distract myself from thinking of that person.
    It’s strange sometimes I forgot how I got through those feelings, in fact I am still not sure how would I do, the next time, when I have a crush on someone (who didn’t like me the way I wanted). But I hope I will deal with the situation better and take care of myself better, because I am more aware of my feelings and learning to take better care of my emotions and well beings. Maybe I will learn something new from the process and take some notes 😛 lol
    Please keep writing your stories. I know you are a good psychologist but you can feel sad and angry too 😀

    • Xin, thank you so much for your support, it means so much to me and I feel so honored to read your thoughts and feelings. Yes, I love the idea of being kind to ourselves and honoring our feelings and our process while working toward growth. And I appreciate you both saying that the post was fun to read while also pointing out that I was in pain when I was going through what I was going through, thank you for slowing me down and for giving space and voice to my emotions even if I didn’t directly articulate all of them (or even if I did, and you were just reinforcing them). I hope you’re well and it’s so cool to know there’s someone like you out there being so iconic in terms of your supportive nature and energy and self-awareness, hope to hear from you again soon.

  7. Michael

    Congrats on your internship Thomas! So glad to hear you received an offer from your top choice. It sounds like it’ll be a great fit 🙂

    Also your unapologetic defense of reciprocity and anger at patriarchy are both so refreshing to read, so thanks so much for sharing your experiences and perspective on here. I went through something a bit similar last weekend, and reading your thoughts inspired me to change how I was reacting to my own situation and I’ve since felt so much better. Hope all’s been well on your end, and wishing you a smooth start to your week!

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