I like playing basketball. I love the game. I love being with a group of people, knowing where my teammates would run to, assisting passes, and defending as a unit.
Some 15 years ago, I was part of my high school basketball team. For the prerequisite skill of every basketball player to be able to shoot, I seemed to have an ultra talent of shooting high parabola curved balls in to the air that hurls down just missing the basket.
When that happened enough times, I built my reputation as a player who could not shoot.Yet, I ran fast, possibly because I was also on the Track & Field team and training to sprint 200m. I was aggressive, and sturdy. This made me a defense player, complementing the other 4 on the court who had higher percentages of getting the ball through the hoop.
It was a self-fulfilling prophecy: the dynamics of the team, and the drone of fear of missing the hoop made me petrified of shooting, or even trying to lift the ball up to aim. My coach would yell out from the side “Shoot! Shoot!” in frustration, then shake his head when I recoiled and passed the ball down to someone else.
Sometimes I play basketball socially with a group of random people. It is part of my exercise routine, striving to be 100% healthy and fit again. But I play with the shadow of high school hanging in my head. So I hardly tried to shoot. Sometimes I tried and got the ball in, and I would beam as if a miracle had been bestowed upon me; most times I did not.
I was embarrassed at how others would think of me, and how I might drag them down. No surprise I did not enjoy my time at basketball.
Even when writing my blog, I am worried how others would perceive me if I shared my dark thoughts, forgetting that the transparent vulnerability is what builds my courage. For that, I thank my readers for reminding me to write with honesty and sincerity, and not mind what others think.
Why do we always worry about outcomes and judgment? Why can we not enjoy the process with the innocence and passion of a child who first encounters a choo-choo train toy?
I spent my energy wondering how others would judge me, caring too much about their opinions.
In reality, nobody even has the time to think how well or badly I played. They probably do not even know my name…
At least I tried. Just play.