It’s prime time at the Sydney Superdome on Friday night. China and Australia are playing for a spot in the final of the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup and the stadium is packed with equal parts Australia fans and China fans. The crowd is announced as 11,916, but there is much more noise than that. Continuous screams fill the arena when each team has possession of the basketball. You can’t even begin to imagine the eruption of noise that echoes throughout the building when a player from either team scores, causing my ears to ring and my head to pound.
I’m sitting at the Media Tribune located feet behind a baseline and situated directly in the midst of the deafening cheers. I am not watching the game, however. I am writing a recap on the United States’ trip to the World Cup finals after a victory over Canada, which just occurred moments earlier. The goal is to complete the game recap within the next hour, but I can’t even hear myself think, yet I listen to the interviews I recorded on my phone earlier through my headphones.
I’m not sure if it was my ability to focus in difficult circumstances or the inner competitor in me, but I finished the game recap in 50 minutes. This was the fastest I had turned around a recap since I began reporting on the World Cup a week and a half ago and it was some of my best work so far. I was able to block out the noise of the crowd and get the job done.
This got me thinking: How can I apply blocking out the noise of more than 11,000 fans screaming at the top of their lungs to my own life experiences?
I’ll be the first one to admit that I am my own biggest critic. Whether it’s school, tennis, or my career, I’ve questioned myself and my abilities numerous times. I don’t handle failure well and I put a lot of pressure on myself, which isn’t always a good thing. However, that Friday night at the Sydney Superdome I had some type of an epiphany; if I can block out the voices of thousands of screaming basketball junkies, I can block out the one voice in my head that’s telling me “I can’t do it.”
Although in the moment I was slightly frustrated with the Australia and China fans for their wild noise level, I am thankful for the environment they created. It was during a frenzied evening filled with so much commotion that I learned I can be successful when I focus on myself, believe in my skills and ignore my inner critic. Who knew it would take thousands of people from around the world to teach me one important lesson about myself?
By Sarah Lounsbury | @saraahlounsbury