It’s been a pretty chaotic few weeks here in Israel. I’ve always wanted to come here and part of me can’t believe I actually am here. My coach was with me in Italy, but here I’m alone. Having a coach helps on the court a ton, but what I forgot is that navigating a foreign country by yourself is very stressful.
I rented a car to travel from tournament to tournament, and driving on Israel roads is easier than I thought it would be. Before I left the airport, I sat in my car for at least 20 minutes just googling what Americans should know driving in Israel because it was my first time driving outside the U.S. But, driving here is similar to the states and the differences that do exist, actually make a ton of sense (i.e. green lights blinking before it turns yellow).
I’ve stayed in three separate Airbnb’s so far in Israel in 3 difference cities and it’s tough. I’ve talked a lot about how playing matches every week, on new courts each week, is mentally tough. But even life off the court has been exhausting. I’m constantly moving, I’m lonely, and I’m trying to function in a place where I don’t speak or read the language, which makes it especially tough to prepare meals before my matches. Just mentally draining.
Fortunately, I’ve met some really cool english-speaking players here and I’ve found housing with a fellow American. It feels better to take on a foreign country together and not by myself. I’ve talked to a friend here about my occasional feeling of complacency. More specifically, I told him that sometimes in matches, I am okay with losing. Sometimes there’s just no motivation to win. And he knew exactly how I felt, and he gave me some really intersting advice.
He basically said he tries to get into arguments with the guy. It could be contesting line calls, or getting into a discussion with his opponent. He’s not talking about cheating, but rather, starting an argument to light a fire within you. It’s like pretending you’re opponent said something bad about you, and suddenly, you want to beat him a lot more. It was eye-opening.
In my last match, I was arguing with my opponent about a line call he made, something I never really do. But, holy guacamole was I fired up the next point. That was a glimpse into what I’m trying to experience and this is one method to accomplish it. I’m not going to suddenly be an asshole on court, but I may try being a little more assertive and confrontational to light a fire within me.
It’s difficult to describe what I miss about home right now. I think it’s just being comfortable. In these Airbnb’s, I’m not comfortable. They are fine places, but there’s something about new environments where you’re always on the edge of your seat. I miss taking nice showers, sleeping in a nice bed, staying in a house with air conditioning, and being in clothes that weren’t washed by a struggling young adult (me).
It’s important to be outside my comfort zone and I believe traveling to a new country, essentially by myself, fits into that category. But, there’s definitely a balance and sometimes I’m learning that it’s okay to want to be comfortable.
I’m excited to just do nothing on my couch and plan my next moves for the end of the year.
I have a few more days here, so I’m trying to explore the country and take a break from tennis. I’ll check out Jerusalem, crush some falafel, and grab some souvenirs.