I grew up in a very small town where basketball was big. If you wanted to be popular in the schoolyard, you had to be very good at the sport of throwing hoops.
Or you had to be a good looking kid with killer clothes and a smile to match.
My mom had a pack-a-day habit when she was pregnant with me. I didn’t stand a chance of being a good looking kid. My clothes? Hand-me-downs, two sisters removed and six years out of style by the time they hit my back.
Basketball was my only shot.
I attempted the sport through junior high. It was hell. During practice, I tripped. I fell. I gasped for breaths like an asthmatic child. I never made a basket or was given the opportunity to make one. (Hey. You got to give a girl the ball if you want her to get better, people!) During games, I was allowed on the court only when we were down by 30 or more points with just seconds to spare on the clock. That happened twice that I remember. What are we talking about here? We’re talking 12 seconds of my life actually being able to compete with another team. Three gulps of lemonade! That’s the amount of time we’re talking about. My time during those awful years was spent being a seat-filler. But still, I did my part. It was a very small school in an even smaller country town. It had to be a difficult task to assemble an entire basketball team. Being a seat-filler was in demand. I may have been bottom rung, but I had my place on the ladder.
I was needed as part of that team.
It didn’t make it any easier sitting on that bench, knowing that I sucked. Knowing that everyone else knew that I sucked. Knowing that I wasn’t popular. I couldn’t really hide it. I couldn’t stuff myself under the bench and hide, although the thought crossed my mind. During games, I didn’t feel like a part of a team–sitting there, picking at my fingers, shuffling my sneakers to make them squeak on the wooden floor of the gymnasium. Waiting, waiting for the buzzer to sound so I could go home and have a snack.
Thirty five years later, I’m happy that I attempted basketball. It wasn’t suited for me. But I learned something from it, aside from the fact that I was awful and I like to eat chips and salsa a lot more than I like to run and throw balls. I learned that I can try something and suck. Nobody really cares.
If I lived my life being afraid to jump into a decision simply because I’m unable to predict the outcome, I’d never know. Nobody would care about that either.
Except for me.
Have you ever had a friend who tells you what they think you want to hear rather than just spilling out their honest opinion of your choices or electing to keep their mouth shut? You have more than a good idea of what they’re thinking. They’re just not saying it. At least not to you. What they are saying is the opposite of how they actually feel and what they say to other people or admit to you down the road. You spend more time wondering why than you should. Is it to spare your feelings? To dodge an argument? Did they donate their spine to charity and forget to mention it? Whatever the case, it’s frustrating.
I have a friend who thinks I will fail. This thought does not bother me. The thought of failure is nothing new in my life. I don’t see failure as a bad thing or as the result of a poor decision. My athleticism, and my vocabulary, or lack thereof, has prepared me for a life of failure. For crying out loud, I have a lazy eye. Do you know how many eye tests I have failed in my life? Being brought up in a home without trophies or ribbons, none of my siblings were propelled to be go-getters in the competition department either. Our mother raised us to believe that we were going to fail at times. When she thought I wasn’t suited for something, she would tell me. She wasn’t a “You can do it if you set your mind to it” type of mother and she wasn’t a “You’re never going to amount to anything” type of mother either. She didn’t set a bar and ask us to reach it. She never pushed. She let us fall and she let us get hurt. She was present and honest and good. What more could we have asked for? We are all productive for-the-most-part decent people. None of us are shoplifters or serial killers.
She showed us that honesty is okay even when it hurts. She also showed us it’s also okay to keep your mouth shut. I have hard time with the latter so I prefer people just give it to me how they see it. Sometimes I don’t like it. My husband told me the other day that I was getting too fat and the button on my shorts could be deemed a weapon–that if it came off, it would fly across the room and possibly kill someone. My heart didn’t melt hearing that. In reply, I grabbed my naked belly like a loaf of white bread dough and squeezed it for him asking him if he wanted some afternoon delight. He didn’t respond too kindly either.
I guess the romance is dead when the waist band leaves welt marks.
At least I know my husband will be honest with me and not tell me what he thinks I want to hear. If that day comes, I know he’s either having an affair or a stroke.
Honesty among friends is important. Telling people what they want to hear when it’s not the truth isn’t exactly relationship bonding material.
Failure isn’t a bad word. I know many people who approach life and succeed simply because they aren’t afraid to fall, because they’ve failed countless times before. What’s one more notch on the loser belt? But look at the prize if you win! I’m happy to be a failure. It means I got up and tried. That’s more fulfilling to me than lying on the couch binge watching Netflix.
It’s a good day to be thankful. Thankful for my crass friends, my dick husband. Thankful for the brutally honest people in my life who hurt my feelings, call me fat and tell me they think I’m full of bad ideas and poor decisions.
I know where you stand. You stand with me.