What they don't tell you

How to write your own playbook, even when it's hard.

Hey everyone.

I hope you’re having a great week.

I wanted to share a few other’s simple pleasures from my post last week.

  • “Sitting by a fire under the stars.” Ben Mercer

  • Something Ryan Mulholland shared from the book 14,000 Things to Be Happy About: Hearing “you're the best"

  • “A warm yet breezy spring morning.” Mark Zhuk

  • “Discovering holes in the wall restaurants and sharing them with the tribe” Christian Alfaro

  • “Weekends with my girlfriend/Sidequest Sundays” Paul LeCrone

And lastly, this comment from Steven:

Quote of the week:
”To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." — Ralph Waldo Emerson

When we’re younger it’s easy to assume everyone is operating under some globally accepted playbook. Something passed down from generation to generation that tells you how you should act, how you should do your taxes, how to handle a breakup, how to navigate mental illness, how to thrive.

I feel like I’ve always sucked at things. I’ve laid awake at night cursing the gods above for not giving me access to the playbook everyone else has.

Growing up, I was encouraged to play baseball. One of my favorite things about my Dad is how he is constantly counting down the days until pitchers and catchers report for spring training in the off season.

My mom will point out the baseball field I used to play on when I was just a kid. Needless to say, it was a fairly integral part of my life. And I still sucked.

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I have a couple of great friends who were exceptional at playing ball when we were younger. Seriously, they were studs and any team was lucky to have them. If we weren’t biking around town or playing some new video-game, we were busy tossing the ball around the yard. I’d even play catch with my Dad every once and awhile.

I’ll never forget my debut as a pitcher and how I damn near walked half the team. Quite honestly speaking, I never really understood how I could still suck at something I tried so hard at. I compared myself to my peers. And it haunted me.

I’ll save you the story but school wasn’t much easier. I switched school districts a handful of times, struggled to make friends and actively reported terrible grades.

When you’re not immediately good at things like others, it’s pretty easy to get down on yourself. You continuously make idle comparisons and let it become an excuse for inaction. If you don’t understand, you will just have to believe me. It’s defeating.

I guess I just always thought that I’d have something come easy if it wasn’t baseball or my education. But I’ve realized a few things since then. For starters: I’m not sure I ever liked playing baseball all that much. I didn’t have that much fun and I’d rather have been pouring into some book I was reading then (or playing Halo 3).

Above that, I hated school. I never really understood the purpose, kid are bullies, I moved too many times, and I hardly had the attention for it.

It took me growing up a little to realize that everyone doesn’t just get a playbook, they write it. When people saw – or laughed at – me fumble at third base, they really only knew half the story (and so did I). And the same can be said for now. When people see me mishandle something they aren’t really getting the full picture.

You see, I’ve been writing my playbook and it never included those things. Mine involved writing short stories on the internet in secret, pouring over all sorts of fantasy books, tinkering with electronics, and even creating little video-skits with my friends up the street (don’t try to find them, they’re long deleted from the internet).

A lot of life turns out to just be leaning into what you like to do and leaning in hard. I still write little short stories on the internet, devour online writing like it’s my job, build software because it’s my job, and have even uploaded a few videos. Just like my younger years. Turns out, I had plenty things I was good at that I loved already.

I don’t blame my parents for pushing me into baseball, I still regard those memories leading up to the games and the time with my friends and parents as some of my greatest. I even learned to like school and left community college with a massive scholarship to university. I still don’t think I’m particularly athletic or even smart, but I’ve made a concerted effort to try to be.

And if you lean in and out of things as much as I have you learn that it’s actually pretty fun to do so. I try not to hold judgement against my self when I push out of my comfort zone, and for that I’ve leaned into all sorts of things I might have been afraid of once upon a time. There isn’t much of a moral here except that if you find your self having a particularly hard time, learn to forgive yourself, try and lean into something that means more to you, and please don’t give up.

Sometimes I picture myself back on the pitchers mound. It’s the the bottom of the ninth and my team is counting on me. I’d much rather be anywhere but there.

But as it turns out: those that can fearfully grip the ball and whip it down into the strike-zone against all odds, will surely get a strike eventually.