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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

A Case of the Yips


No matter how much money I budget for the holiday season, it’s never enough. Things like farm raised turkey, live trees, holiday cards, gifts and wreaths add up fast. To top it off, the large wooden fence that surrounds our property is basically termites holding hands at this point. The front gate will undoubtedly crumble under the weight of winter snow which means we will need to replace the fence before opening the pool again. All middle class white woman troubles, I know. So we had a guy come out and give us an estimate to replace the decrepit wooden fence with vinyl. And after he casually gave us the jaw dropping number, I wondered if perhaps fencing made of termite food (aka wood) was cheaper. The enthusiastic fence installer was ready to go which is understandable as I doubt that this is a busy time of year with most people’s budgets and bank accounts looking similar to my own. Plus, it’s not like people are spending a lot of time in their yards this time of year. Anyway – our bank account was not ready to go, having just completed some upgrades inside our house. So I crunched numbers and thought about where I could trim the budget for 2018 while Andrea and I watched money continuing to flow out of our bank account.

In the midst of all of this, I began to feel anxious. Like 2005-2006 level anxiety which was not a good time. At times, I struggle with generalized anxiety which is a pervasive feeling of free floating anxiety. Because it’s free floating, I am tempted to assign it to something in an attempt to rationalize the irrational. When it comes to assigning it to something, work is my go to and I start to amplify every little mistake in my mind until I am convinced I’ll be shit canned and applying for unemployment. One morning, Andrea looked at me and diagnosed me by saying, “You have a case of the yips.”

“What the hell is that?” I asked and Andrea explained that it’s when sports players let their emotions get the better of them. According to the MLB, the Yips is “no mythological plague. For reasons unknown, players can encounter a mental hurdle that flat-out won't permit them to complete one of the game's mundane on-field tasks. Infielders suddenly can't find the first baseman's glove on routine throws. Catchers can't execute the simple task of returning the ball to the pitcher.” Dr. Charlie Maher, Indians sports psychologist, avoids using the term "yips," and instead refers to the circumstance as "misplaced focus." A term that removes the notion that the player is “suffering from some sort of daunting ailment.”

Whatever the case, my intuition was telling me that something was going to happen to me at work. And on Wednesday of this week, it did. I went to my bosses office for a meeting and she began talking to me about my performance. Favorably. She then announced that I would be receiving a (generous) bonus in my pay next week. I sat there blinking and experiencing a sensation that can only be described as flabbergasted. This same week, Andrea received a long-awaited pay increase retroactively.

Why am I talking about this? I am not writing about this to be like “go Smiths!” and pat ourselves on the back. I’m writing about this to remind myself that the universe does provide. I’m writing this to tell myself that yes, I should continue to listen to my intuition because when it tells me that the universe is up to something it’s usually right. I’m writing myself to tell myself that intuition isn’t always telling me that doom is around the corner. It’s our instinct to gravitate towards the bad, when in fact, perhaps good news may be just around the corner. Mistakes and missteps are inevitable but beating ourself up after they occur isn't. The anxiety and dread lifted following the conversation with my boss, as if my psyche was relaxing and saying, “So that’s what this feeling has been about.” I need to continue to believe that the universe has my back and I need to trust in its timing.

"People make errors. It's going to happen again before the year is over. Everyone is going to make errors. It's part of the game. Nobody wants it to happen. Of course, you feel bad. You play baseball long enough, that kind of stuff happens. It's part of the game. If you let it consume you, that's what gets you." - Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals third baseman


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