The art of self-reflection


Kinley Freese

One of my favorite moments after golfing, the course was so peaceful and it reminded me of how much golf means to me and how much I need it. Photo by Kinley Freese

Kinley Freese, Staff Writer

As 2022 is nearing a close, I have recently been reflecting on my year in more depth than I usually do. Along the way, I have learned how I can improve for an even better year in 2023. 

The art of self-reflection transpires through honesty with yourself and your surroundings. My memories from this year are flooded with highs, and lows but there is no better feeling than improving from those highs and lows. Life is not always pretty, and sometimes it really does hit you like a truck but at the same time, the events you go through can prepare you for what is going to come next. 

The beginning months of my year could be labeled as quite chaotic with managing the LHS girls basketball team. With the challenging task of helping the team, I learned the dedication behind being a part of the team while not actually participating in the sport and what being on the sidelines is like instead. My role on the team as a manager was not always the most fun, especially when we lost, but the rewards when we won were indescribable. Being able to go to state and see the team pour their everything into getting there and the preparations for the exciting stage of the state tournament was an experience I didn’t think I would ever get. One of the greatest influences I learned from was our JV coach Blake Bradfield who is now the head coach for the RHS girl’s basketball team. He treated us managers like we really were a part of the team. He was always a smiling face and an amazing coach to be around. Something that always stood out to me about coach Bradfield was his outstanding persona and how he was always willing to help me out in whatever I was doing. He always thanked us managers after every game win or loss, and for that, I am forever grateful. Thank you LHS girls basketball, and Blake Bradfield; you guys are truly the best and left me with everlasting memories.

After basketball season ended, it was full-swing golf season for me. This was my second year on the LHS girl’s golf team and definitely a challenging year in many aspects. The weather played a big part in the outcome of my season. There were a lot of days when I think my hands froze while swinging my golf club but somehow I survived. I won JV tournaments and made many top-five finishes, which was a testament to the amount of work I put in during the off-season. I was a leader on our JV team and a big sister to the underclassmen. That was most definitely the highlight of my season, creating and improving relationships with my many teammates has created such strong bonds and friendships. I had quite a humbling moment while playing, specifically the 10 I took on the last hole of my round which was a par four; while playing my first varsity tournament that season. You would have thought my whole world was crashing down on me by how upset I was with myself after that last hole but in reality, it was not that at all. Now reflecting on that moment, I realize that I was upset because It was my last hole and it is hard to end on a bad note when you have been playing so well all-day. I was also upset because I let my emotions get to me, and I reacted out of emotion through frustration on that hole. Poor control of my emotions was my mistake, but ever since then, I have truly learned to keep my emotions better in check. I also had another hard moment when I did not play in the State tournament that I qualified for. I went to watch both days of the girls’ State tournament in Brookings to not only support my teammates but to support some of my best friends that played for other schools. It was so hard to watch everyone I love and support play because I wanted to be out there with them. The feeling of wanting to be out there and playing too was undoubtedly the most difficult feeling of my season.

My summer was filled with working 40-plus hour weeks lifeguarding at Laurel Oaks Family Aquatic Center. Along with lifeguarding, I somehow managed to squeeze time in for golf. I spent a total of six hours a week with my swing coach spread out over three days each week. I don’t know how my coach dealt with me but he did. I also babysat and volunteered at golf tournaments when I could. My weeks were always jammed packed, and I felt incredibly burnt out because of it, but it was worth it at the end of the summer when I had that extra money, and of course, the gorgeous tan that comes with lifeguarding. It felt like sometimes I didn’t have enough time to breathe. I was always bouncing around from one thing to another. Looking back, it was an unhealthy amount of busy. I was not present enough for my friends and family, and it still affects me almost four months after the summer ended. At the same time, the people I worked with became family, and the people I golfed with all summer became my biggest motivators and best friends. I would have never imagined how my summer would have unraveled, but I learned that for next year, I am going to try and take it easy on myself. 

As school started and the summer tan started to fade, life began to slow down. My days became so much less disorderly. I went and golfed after school until sunset most days, and I missed the sense of calm and comfort I found on the golf course. The stresses of school and homecoming piled up quickly, but I found my place of comfort out on the golf course where I was able to push the anxiety and stress away for awhile. 

In November I went to Dallas, Texas for a life changing opportunity provided through the First Tee. I submitted an application in August for a national participant opportunity called “The Innovators Forum” which was a leadership-based camp that would take place in November. Over 350 people in the country get selected to submit an application while only 28 get selected to attend. So, on Sept. 1st in the middle of the Scooter’s drive-thru when I opened my email and read the words “Congratulations,” I screamed at the top of my lungs. I was filled with pure excitement and joy. I attended the forum, and it was by far the most eye-opening and challenging couple of days. I developed a service project to bring back into my community. I met the most genuine souls and had an absolute blast while there. 

So, as 2022 is coming to a close, I encourage you to reflect on the highs and lows of your year as I did. Self-reflecting can be a way of realizing that instances and situations are not as important as you once thought. It is beneficial to stay in touch with your feelings and accept things for what they are. Take this newfound knowledge and instead of settling, improve on it.