Mike's Mailbag: When New is Terrifying

Mike's Mailbag: When New is Terrifying

By Mike Gustafson//Contributor  | Monday, August 13, 2018

Every Monday, I answer swimmers’ questions. Send your questions to swimmingstories@gmail.com.


Dear Mike,


The two teams in my town are merging next season. I thought it would be great, a new opportunity, new coaches, new style. Then there was a parent meeting. I found out that apparently this is just a name change, us basically joining the other team. Now I'm terrified for this. I don't want to lose all the friends I've made and the family that I've become a part of.





Dear Terrified,

I swam for a combined high school team. My school didn’t have a pool, so we joined a rival school twenty miles away.

Before that first practice, I was scared, nervous, anxious, and stressed. I didn’t want to partner with another high school. I wanted my team. I wanted my school’s mascot on my swim cap. I wanted my coaches, my school colors, and my friends. I heard stories about this rival high school: They were, of course, supposed to be strange and horrible people. All of them. Never to be trusted. Never to be spoken to. Preppy, stuck-up kids who drove fancy cars and had secret sacrificial ceremonies by the river and spoke in serpent tongues. 

Turns out, none of them spoke in serpent tongue. (At least, not that I could tell.) They were, of course, very similar to us. They ate the same foods — pizza, pasta, salads. They told the same jokes — we all loved watching late night comedy shows. I was more surprised by our abundant similarities than troubled by our differences. Growing up, our schools seemed oceans apart — as though those twenty miles were the scope of the Adriatic Sea. But twenty miles is not the Adriatic.

Those “rivals” became my teammates and best friends. Still are. One was in my wedding party.

My point? Don’t let fear prevent you from experiencing “The New.” It’s okay to feel scared and afraid by The New. It’s okay to feel, in your words, ‘terrified’ of The New. But The New can also be exciting, help you grow, and change your life in a positive way. Shift your perspective: You’re not losing friends; you could be gaining best friends. This new combined team may not be the worst thing ever.

It could be the best.

You won’t know until you try. It’s okay to be scared of The New, but don’t let fear be a stop sign from venturing into The New. Push past that fear. Keep going. Otherwise, you’ll never see what’s down that long winding road. You’ll be scared of anything new. You could be stuck in the familiar.

And trust me, Terrified. You never know what The New may bring… Years later, decades after that first scary practice, one beautiful day in June, perhaps one of those new teammates might end up standing next to you on your wedding day.

I hope this helps.

If you have a question you’d like answered either online atsftest.usaswimming.org or inside the next issue of Splash Magazine, please email me at swimmingstories@gmail.com, and I’ll do my best to answer.



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