I am all the things that people do for a living who have given testimonials to their stories about anxiety and depression. I am a professional jazz musician by day (or by night, since that's when the gigs happen). I am also an athlete, having had a brief stint playing Division I baseball and continuing to play on an adult league team now (which is how I convince myself to exercise).
Obviously, anxiety comes with both of those scenarios. Out of all the work I've put into being a musician, I still worry about stepping on stage and forgetting how to improvise jazz. All the work I've put into understanding music theory and all the time spent practicing goes out the door because I can't get my fingers to work. I'm afraid I'll sound like an egotistical fraud if people aren't impressed by my musical talents.
When I step in the batter's box, I'm afraid of two things: looking like an idiot and dislocating my shoulder. My should has dislocated three times from swinging a bat, but I cannot give up the sport. I'm afraid that each swing could be my last, no matter how much time I spend in the cage or in physical therapy trying to find ways to prevent my shoulder from leaving the socket!
But you know where anxiety gets me the absolute most? With my other job: as a baseball umpire.
I've been umpiring games as high as high school varsity and college club for 12 years. I am deathly afraid to call balls and strikes sometimes because of how quick I have to call them and what others might think of my calls. The last thing I want is an argument with a coach. I'm not the type to strut my stuff on the field...I just want to do a good job and earn a living. Yet, I panic in the car prior to the game because I know there is a possibility that a coach could give me a hard time, even if I'm doing a good job, just because I'm an umpire.
What's worse is that I may conquer this fear for the day, yet one questionable call that could lead to one remark from a coach and I'm back at square one. Then the rest of my calls begin to suffer. I question every close pitch. Before I know it, I'm suffering internally.
Trying to get coaches, players, and fans to understand that umpires are people too is a losing battle. Further, this is not the place to promote efforts to change that. But what I can say is that officials suffer as well. The next time you want to yell at an official, maybe consider the fact that your comment might make it even worse for your team!
Thank you, Josh, for starting this! This Yankee fan is forever in your debt!