Erase the Blackboard – Essay by Ava Santamaria

“Erase the blackboard.” Such a simple yet powerful metaphor that can have many implications in life – beginning on the golf course. Golf has always played a major role in my life, though not in ways you might expect. When people ask how long I have been playing, I often respond with the phrase, “I was born with a putter in my hand” – which is not very far from
the truth. I started playing golf at the age of two, and have oftentimes heard stories about my father strapping me to a golf cart in my infant car seat while my mother was at work; exposing me to the game before I could even formulate words.
Learning how to play golf as a child, however, was not as easy as some may think. Aside from the obvious skill and coordination a perfect golf swing requires, a major component of the game must be conquered psychologically. As a child, I considered hitting a poor shot or having a
bad hole the end of the world. My frustrations led to meltdowns on the putting green, with cries and pleads to my father to let me give up and no longer play. At this level of frustration, there was no psychological recovery for me. My emotions took over to such an extent, that I lacked the ability to focus on any future shots or strategy. Whenever this would occur, my father would say, “Erase the blackboard.”
As a 10 year old girl struggling with my emotions, I took the phrase quite literally; not understanding its true meaning. I would fire back at my father, “What blackboard are you even talking about?” As I grew older and competed in tournaments, I finally began to understand the meaning of the cliché my father preached each round we played together. Hit a ball in the water?
Erase the blackboard. Mark a triple-bogey on the scorecard? Erase the blackboard. Rather than psychologically berating myself and dwelling on past holes, I instead decided to re-focus on the present and the next shot that I needed to hit. This small phrase had such a large impact on my
golf game, as my scores drastically improved with each round.
Aside from golf, I found myself “erasing the blackboard” in many aspects of my life.
Receive a disappointing grade on a test? A friendship ends that you thought would last a lifetime? Miss a perfect goal opportunity in soccer? Erase the blackboard. I grew to become mentally resilient, as my self esteem was not based solely on outcomes. As I navigated through my teenage experiences, I always remained optimistic, rarely falling into a state of despair or regret of the past. Similar to moving on from a poor shot during a round of golf, I learned to move on from certain life occurrences that challenged me. As I had an entire round of golf ahead of me after a poor shot, my entire life remained ahead of me after these presented obstacles.
The utmost rewarding aspect of playing golf is the strong mentality that you develop as a competitor. Without the opportunity to learn golf as a child, I would not have the same optimistic outlook on life that I possess now. I have learned that a golf round doesn’t always turn out how you originally intended it to be, but is analogous to life – you need to recover quickly and move forward. As I excitedly move onto the next chapter of my life and begin studying the challenging subject of Neuroscience, I will hold this motto close to my heart. Any upcoming obstacles I will face as a college freshman and beyond, I will revert back to my frustrated 10-year-old self on the golf course, and repeat the familiar phrase over and over in my head – Erase the Blackboard.

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