Several months ago I made a decision: The only way I could move forward with my life was to let go of most of the people and things that held me back. I stopped talking to most of my old friends. I made it a point to stop going to places and doing things that were out of character and against my own values. I figured that I had lived a lie for most of my life. I spent so much energy trying to conform to what I thought others wanted me to be.
So far, this approach hasn't brought me a great deal of happiness. In the absence of most of my friends, I pretty much just sit around my apartment on my days off. To say I'm bored is an understatement. However, I don't find myself feeling miserable any more. I don't hate myself for failing to live up to others' expectations. Moreover, I know that I now have the opportunity of forming new friendships and new relationships with people that are truly compatible with me. I'm nothing like most of my old friends. I'm an intellectual. I like to think and learn. I have a great interest in current events. I'm also, admittedly, a dork. I like sitting around playing video games. I don't like bars and clubs. I'm not big on parties. I don't have the same taste in women as my friends do (meaning that I don't go after a girl just because she's hot).
It's not that I think my friends are bad people. Not at all actually. Most of them are really good people. They're just not like me. I really never should have been friends with them in the first place. We have nothing in common... except I was very good basketball player. I'm a reserved, video game playing, straight A, science geek who just happens to be a really good athlete. Basketball was my ticket into the cool guy clique. It was my identity in middle school and high school. Hell, it was the one area where I stood out. It was an area that people recognized my strength. Even at college, I'd go to the gym and despite all the tall, athletic looking guys that were around, I was the one that people wanted to play with. I was the one that they tried to figure out how to shut down. I was the kid with the deadly jumpshot. All 5'9" 160 pounds of me. It made me feel good... One of the only things that did.
Earlier this year, I wrote about how I had played really poorly in my summer basketball league. I wrote about how I no longer had my quick first step. I no longer was able to explode to the hoop and finish strong. Even my jumpshot was failing me. I was completely miserable. I knew the reason my game had declined. I knew that standing on my feet for 10 and 12 hour days was ruining my athleticism. I didn't have the time or energy to keep in shape, so my game suffered because of it. In most people, that's just a part of growing up. To me, it was heart breaking. I felt like I lost my identity. There were so few things that I did really well, and losing my basketball ability was a big blow to my self esteem.
That's when I decided I had to give it up. I had to step away from the game I loved because it wasn't just a game to me anymore. I was letting it define me, and it wasn't healthy. I didn't give it up entirely. After all, basketball is still pretty good exercise. I'd still go down to a local park and shoot hoops several days per week during the summer. If some other people happened to show up, I'd gladly play some pick up games with them. However, I vowed I wouldn't play in any more leagues.
This brings me to my point... My former team's first game in the winter basketball league is tomorrow night. I told them that they could put my name on the roster, but I'd only play if they were short players. Now, I'm fighting the urge to go play tomorrow night. I really want to. I love basketball. However, it brings out the worst in me. If I play poorly, I'll go right back to hating myself. However, if I play well, I'll be incredibly happy, but I'll hate myself for being that happy over a stupid game.
I'm 26 years old. I basically have no true friends. I don't have a girlfriend or any prospects. I get very little happiness out of my existence, and the thing that makes me most happy is knocking down 3-pointers in a meaningless basketball game. It's sad.
This was my decision though. I have to live with it. It's not easy though, especially since both college and NBA basketball are starting up. Watching basketball gives me the urge to play. This is part of the whole moving on process though, so I'm going to try not to give in to that urge. I have a feeling I'm not going to be successful.