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Periaktoi Writing Post

Volume 53
Issue 1

Single Visual Art Post

  • Essay
An Open Letter
Katy Waddell

Dear Guys Who Said I Couldn’t,

I would like to start by thanking you for doubting me. You don’t know it, but you changed my life; you changed my perspective; your comments were the spark that empowered me. You have appeared in many different forms throughout my life. You have been a boy and a teenager. A young man and an old man. You try to disguise yourself, but you are always the same.

Before you and the Mets played against me and the Tigers, you came up to notify me that I was a girl. I was thankful for that recognition as I wore my long blonde hair down just so people like you were aware of that fact. After sharing your astonishing observation, you continued by stating that because of this fact, I was not permitted to play baseball: “Baseball is for boys,” you claimed, supporting your shallow argument. Your doubt only affected me positively. In fact, it inspired me. It provided me with even more motivation to play. I wasn’t angry with you. I just felt the need to prove you wrong, which is exactly what my team and I did, beating you and the Mets five to zero.

During another season and another game, we met again. You were at first base while I was up to bat. You told my coach, who was standing by first base: “She can’t hit because she’s a girl.” My coach simply told you to watch. The next pitch that came towards the plate was

knocked right over your head into the outfield for a double. “I guess girls can hit,” were the next words you uttered to my coach. He replied with a smile.

Two years passed, and we met once again. Except, this time you were a man. You were my coach. We were losing horribly; the score was probably around nine to zero. The other coaches kept asking you to put me in to try to get us out of the inning, but you told them no. You changed pitchers one by one, leaving them in for a few pitches and quickly taking them out to be replaced by another—any player on the team other than me. But why? I didn’t ask. I didn’t have to. The other coaches asked you the same question to which I heard you reply: “She’s a girl. We can’t put her in. She won’t be able to handle these boys.” After going through every single one of my teammates, you finally gave me the opportunity. You handed me the ball, and I threw the first pitch. Strike. The next. Strike. The third. Strike. He was out: one out down, two more to go. The next batter hit a grounder to second for the next out and the last I struck out. No runs scored. No one got on base. You were proved wrong once again.

Mr. Doubt, you manifest yourself as many different people, but I recognize you every time. When I was an outsider in what was designated as a boy’s game, you made me aware of the fact that according to you, I didn’t belong. You reminded me that you didn’t think I was as good as boys at baseball. You told me that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish my dreams of being the first woman in the MLB or even to make my high school varsity team. You told me “no” so many times, and every time I replied with “yes”. Your negativity ignited the flame that led me to be the person I am today.

Mr. Doubt, while I may not be playing baseball anymore or pursuing a career in the MLB, you have not won this game. In fact, you have never won. I continue to prove you wrong every single day as I crush limitations you set for me based on my gender.

“You’re a woman. You can’t be strong,” you say while I spend my free time in the weight room.

“You have no future. Your job is going to be to stay home to cook and clean,” you say as I conduct brain research as a high school student to set myself up for success in the medical field. 

The point here, Mr. Doubt, is that you can continue to underestimate me all you want as I assume you will, but you need to understand one thing: your doubt only makes me stronger. Your inability to believe that I can succeed brings me more success. You motivate me. You give me something to prove. Your disbelief makes me believe. 

So continue to tell me I can’t accomplish my goals, continue to misjudge my skills and talents, and continue to set barriers for me. Continue to be you. I will continue to be me. I will achieve my goals, I will acknowledge and use my skills and talents, and I will break every barrier you set. The game goes on Mr. Doubt. You are relentless, but so am I. So bring it. Give me all you have, and I will respond with all I have and so much more.

You cannot and will not win.

Katy Waddell