I don’t have a lot of friends. Never have, actually. I look back and I know why: I’m a hard person to be around. I talk when I’m nervous, and I deal with anxiety and depression so I get nervous and or depressed for reasons I don’t really know. It taxes people.
I wonder sometimes if… well, actually, I know this is one of the reasons I started writing. It helped me catch my thoughts and pin them down. Otherwise they’d just keep moving faster and faster in my head until they hit critical mass and I needed to hide, or trap someone and vomit it all out, then ask them, at the end or my frantic word stream, “am I normal?”
Hiding makes you look funny to people who don’t need to hide. In the world of baseball, so much of how people look at you is based on how good at your job you are, or how strong you are—one is interwoven with the other. How do you react to failure, how do you cope with falling down, how often do you fall down in respect to how often you make others fall down?
I fell a lot in the minors. A lot more my short stint in the big leagues. People like to throw that in my face from time to time. Tell me I don’t know anything about the game because I was bad. I like to think I know a lot more about the game because I failed so much. What it does to you, why people really play it. I’d like to think I know a lot more about me because I failed so much.
I’d like to think…
But we live in a world where your opinion on anything is only as good as how great you were at something. People respect greatness, not insightful failure. Since I was not great, I am, according to my peers, not smart, valid, relevant… And so I must daily summon the strength to say, “no, you’re wrong” to the majority, and continuously prove my worth in the face of the easily cited stats suggesting the contrary.
But people don’t like to be told they’re wrong. If it’s one versus many, it makes you look arrogant, which, in turn, makes you someone with very few friends… It will be said that you’re unlikable, and, since our liking of something is often based on how willing that something is to conform to our world view, the title sticks on me since I am not willing to conform.
Some days it hurts more than I let on. Some days it frustrates more than it logically should. Some days I want to hide, not because of anything anyone on the outside does, but because my head wont cooperate and the thoughts wont slow down and I’m alone with no one to vomit on accept a blank sheet of paper, and the paper never says you’re okay or that you’re cared for you unless you put it there first.
Somedays I can’t get out of bed without beating back the question, “why is life so painfully long?”
I’m not a coward. I’ve never been afraid to hold my ground on an opinion or push hard against the odds. If I was, I wouldn’t have accomplished the things I have. That’s supposed to be impressive but sometimes it isn’t… It isn’t because, when I feel like I’m coming apart from the inside, all the things I’ve done are of little consequence. Accomplishments just become more things to stare at and ask, “why aren’t you helping?”
I supposed you can spend your whole life chasing a dream, but if no one agrees you caught it, have you really caught it? A dream chaser can validate his or her dreams, of course. Indeed, they must. But every dream is composed, at least to some degree, of external recognition and validation.
Mine came from baseball for so long. I could have kept playing but I was in a lot of pain. Other players have played through pain, I know, but mine wasn’t of the physical sort. It was this stuff I vomited on you above. It was the need to feel good instead of fighting through feeling bad, or feeling different, or feeling unvalidated, or feeling adrift.
I needed to rest from it, from how I processed it. Baseball was not a sustainable world for a person like me to exist in. Once I walked away, I understood all this more clearly. I also understood that, ironically, I’d been fighting these feeling since I was in high school. It was a part of me I didn’t know because I’d always looked at life through baseball’s lens; Meaning was derived from pleasing it; My self-image always dressed in a uniform.
Baseball taught me a about who I am. Hard lessons that took a long time to learn. Its final lesson: that it’s okay to walk away from something. If you never walk away from something, you’ll never see it from any other perspective than the fear you that keeps your feet stuck in place. You’ll never know what else you can do, or what you were missing.
Now I work for Rogers, in Canada. I work insane hours. I’ve surprised myself with some latent talents. Frustrated myself with a lack of others. Told lots of people they’re wrong and been told by many more that I’m wrong. My thoughts still race and my heart still wanders and somedays it’s still hard to get out of bed knowing that the world I live in is not the one I want to be in. But this will someday be just another thing I learn from before walking away.
To what, I don’t know.
Hopefully home, to my wife. She gives me more strength than I think I’ll ever be able to articulate fully in a lifetime of books. I miss her and I miss our home and the memories made there, and the small but dear pocket of friends that I don’t have to jockey to prove my worth too. I’m glad the season is almost over.
I have dreamed many dreams; of being special, better, valid, important, meaningful, above, heard, and elite. Now the dream I dream the most is the day on which I feel normal.