I close my eyes and wrap the sound around me. It is a Bell X1 night, like many before it recently. And as I settle in, I feel my expired youth calling out to me, asking me why. Why were you afraid? Why didn’t you feel enough? Why were you so concerned with being accepted? Why didn’t you see it – you were good? And I feel a sense of sadness come over me, a sense of grieving even, for that kid that didn’t get to embrace all he had before him.
Bruce Springsteen sings of Glory Days, and I always felt it was so trivial to look back and think of sports or school days as a source of pride and accomplishment. And I still cringe at the idea of the best days being when we are at our most naive and inexperienced. Though, I suppose it is that innocence that makes them shine, it is also that innocence that has us blind. Well, had me blind, or at least visually impaired – or who I was, what I could do, and that I need to just enjoy being a kid.
I had an old teammate reach out to me recently, and he made a comment that I was good. It was a simple comment, and he probably didn’t think it to be revelatory, but it kind of was. It is like that moment in Field of Dreams when Shoeless Joe tells Moonlight, “you were good” (I may be paraphrasing there, but you get it). I knew that I was good, but I always felt like I was never good enough, either to where I should be, where I need to be, or just being. And I carried the doubt with me, like a book in my backpack, weighing me down, while simultaneously making me stronger. But the strength didn’t pay dividends until well after I was off the field.
I see now that all I needed to hear, or learn to believe, was that I was good – all good. Not just at a sport, but in life, I was okay. I didn’t have to be perfect to be liked. I didn’t have to be the best to have friends. I didn’t have to make varsity to feel ike a girl’s attention was warranted. It could just be me – I was good, and good enough.
Insecurity is a funny thing. Because while it probably kept me from relaxing and trusting in myself fully, it also drove me because I relied so heavily on succeeding. I am torn if being more confident would have made me better, or would have made me lazier. But it is hard not to think I would have been less afraid of being my full self and not the version that was safe.
And now my mind is scrambled by tiredness, and it is time to rest my weary head. But I will go to sleep with this thought: I will make sure the little ones in my life know that they are good enough – regardless of whether they are good at something.