Athletes’ Journal: Ryann Stutz

Finding Balance and Self-Worth

My name is Ryann Stutz, and I am a junior on Hope’s volleyball team. Ever since the Hope Athlete’s Journal started, I knew I wanted to write something to help bring our beautiful community closer together – as it’s been proven in the previous posts, Hope College needs to have more vulnerable conversations. We can only go so far in our relationships around campus with the surface-level “I’m doing great, how are you?” pattern we all fall into. It wasn’t until recently that I was able to uncover exactly what I’ve been struggling with, and how to deal with it, but now that I’ve recognized the issue I want to share my thoughts and advice.

So, let’s dig in.

Ryann (8) celebrating with teammates.

It doesn’t take long to understand the type of person I am. I laugh loud, am pretty much ALWAYS dancing, and will talk your ear off if you let me. I’m curious, passionate, and loyal to my tribe of amazing friends and family. I dream big, and thrive in high-energy, fast-paced environments. As self-driven and ambitious as I am, though, there are times when my battery runs low and I need time to recharge. Oftentimes, though, I can’t afford to make space in my schedule for this “recharge,” because I spread myself too thin. Striving to be viewed in high regard as a hardworking multitasker, as “the girl who can do it all,” I tack on as many things as I can fit into my schedule at once. If my planner is filled with various meetings, activities and jobs, then I feel more important. In the beginning, I transition from one thing to the next with ease; but as the workload increases and time goes on, the burden becomes too heavy to carry.

I start to realize I’m in over my head, and become paralyzed with the fear that I’m not good enough.

How will my dreams become a reality if I can’t handle juggling the demands of work, school, volleyball and my social life? This paralysis is overwhelming, and floods into every aspect of my day. As my busy schedule goes on, my fiery passion dwindles, and I worry to the point of being incapable of the simplest of tasks.

Let’s go back to the idea of being “the girl who can do it all.” Why do we have to do everything today? I find myself thinking too often about the accomplishments I want people to know me for, and comparing that image to just about everyone else. I compare myself to people who aren’t going to college and instead traveling the world; people who are going to college and are accomplishing major feats in their research; people who I perceive as being stronger in their faith than me; and athletes from other schools that I play against. The worst part about this is that it stops me from pursuing my dreams. It makes me ask myself, “Am I good enough?” “Why haven’t I done that?” I think, “Their team is ranked higher than ours,” or “What’s the point of applying to this internship? Someone from an Ivy League with a higher GPA probably already applied.” This is so unhealthy! I know I am not the only one who does this, either. So far in my life, my response has been what I mentioned before: overloading my schedule, progressively being exhausted by said schedule, and freezing up in inaction and fear.

How do I break this cycle? As of right now, I don’t have a solid answer. I can’t say I’ve successfully broken through this, as I’m in one of these dangerous cycles as we speak! What I do know is that I am not isolated in times of stress and pain. Friends, teammates, mentors, coaches, and most importantly, our Lord and Savior have all shown up and given me something to lean on when I’m too weak to do anything on my own.

The book of Joshua has shed some light on this issue of ambition becoming fear for me, and I’d like to share it. The first chapter begins with Joshua, the former aide to Moses, being asked by God to lead the Israelites to Canaan after Moses passes away. He was so well-prepared and capable for this position, yet still he feared failure and questioned his ability to lead God’s people. God said to him, “Have I not commanded you? Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). The biggest takeaway I have from this message is even as unqualified as you may feel, God is the rock that will assure you of your potential.

Who are you to say that you aren’t good enough?

You were created with so much love and care by the One who saves!

The second Bible verse I want to share is about pain, because being Christian doesn’t mean we are free from it. John 15:1-2 says “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” I once heard that this idea of pruning means to “carefully, intentionally inflict pain to increase growth.” How amazing is this, that as I feel like there’s no way to stay afloat amidst my struggles, God is using it to make me stronger and better equipped for the future He has planned for me!

Ryann (on the left) going up for a block.

The best version of me is the ambition, the fire and energy that hasn’t been tainted by envy, fear and sloth. But that is a rare gem. What I can do to fuel the fire again is remind myself that I’m the only one who’s stopping me. This became an important phrase my sophomore season, when I would get insecure in my own head and not play to my potential. “Who’s stopping you?” was written everywhere in my room, planner and locker. Being scared of failure is not what God put me (or you, for that matter!) on this earth to do. Rather than “Am I good enough?” remind yourself “God has prepared me for this.”

To conclude, settle your anxiety-ridden heart. Know your limits and don’t overcommit. Dive deep into His life-changing Word. Open up and be honest with the people around you. Remember to be grateful for the things you have been blessed with, for every season you have been in. I pray hearing this heals someone as much as writing it has healed me.

 

 

 

THE HOPE ATHLETES’ JOURNAL MISSION STATEMENT
from creator Stephen Binnig

The mission of the Hope Athletes’ Journal is to give members of the Hope Athletics Community a medium where they can share their stories to relate to, understand, and appreciate coaches, players, prospective students, and fans beyond the game. My goal through this project is that those in and around our community will write vulnerable, principled, honest, and respectful stories that ultimately knit our college even closer together. If you or someone you know has a story that could be shared on the Hope Athletes’ Journal, please reach out to me via email at Stephen.Binnig@hope.edu.

If you or someone you know is in need of help, here are some resources both on and off campus:

Hope College Office of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS): 616-395-7945

Hope College Campus Ministries: 616-395-7145

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673