Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Urge to Look Back

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.


monster said...

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." - George Bernard Shaw

thetwitchytechnician said...

What you _do_ have right now is a steady stable job, a roof over your head, and I'm resuming a vehicle, and at our age, that's quite a bit to ask for.

It sounds more like you're just finally transitioning out of the young twenties mindset and into a one of self reflection and discovery. Use this time, the solitary time, to figure your shit out rather than trying to live to any societal standard of youth or self.

There's nothing wrong with you.

Anonymous said...

Play!!! there will be a time in your life when you really can't due to this job and what it does to your knees and back...don't let your youth pass you by.

Anonymous said...

In the words of a great advertisement...

Just do it.

The release of finally going back to what you love might be cathartic. Even if you don't kick major ass, maybe you can at least find a court to fool around on and get back into the groove. Trust me, 12 hour days aren't good for my knees either, but I still jog 5k on my days off. Seriously? If you want it, you'll do it.

Oh, and invest in a pair of Dr. Martens. Kyle 5 Eye 1 Hooks are my deal. They may not be cheap, but they have helped me feel much better at the end of the day.

Let us all know what happens with the game.

jennifurr said...

well mike
at least ONE thing, even if it's "only basketball", makes you feel happy in life. it's certainly better than absolutely nada.
i used to draw a lot as a hobby. i stopped drawing after high school because i realized the joy of drawing evolved into a nasty desire to compete with other people who were good at drawing. so i definitely know where you're coming from. recently ive been thinking of drawing again simply for fun, even if the drawing is crap. after all, it's the process of drawing that first made me fall in love with drawing. i hope you too can go back to that stage in life where bball was fun just for the hell of it.
and also i think it's great you want to discard the lies from your past. im sure everyone, at a certain point in their lives, has to do that to keep their sanity. plus, you're too old to keep up with the fake shit. (though here in LA it never seems to die, unlucky me). keep looking for the right girl and right friends. they're out there for sure.

Anonymous said...

what state are you are just like me except for your a male ;)

susan said...

I'm kind of going through the same thing right now, although I'm 21. I'm in college right now and maybe have one or two friends. I've never been in a relationship and don't particularly desire to have one. Part of me thinks I'm not really capable of loving and another part of me doesn't believe in love. But that's not really the issue. The issue is that society says I should be looking for a mate right now and that I should want a mate. But who cares? I realize that there's more to life than relationships. I look at couples around me who are constantly fighting, and I am grateful that I don't have to put up with that drama. (On a side note, I heard a comedian say once: Relationships are like yard sales, they look really cool from far away, but when you get up close, you realize it's a lot of crap you don't need..) LOL.
I do have to admit though, I can't say I'm a happy person. Sometimes I try to tell myself I am, but I'm definitely not. But I don't think it has anything to do with lack of a relationship. But I do know that if I were to ever be in a relationship, I really have to get my act together and love myself first. I have to be the love of my life. I'm still working on it.
On another note, sometimes I think, if we're all going to die anyway, then what's the point of all this? What is the frickin point? We are all going to matter how much success we have. But I guess the fact that we're going to die makes this time all the more precious.

Who knows...this kind of turned into a rant more than anything
But I just wanted you to know that I'm trying to figure stuff out too.

Pharmacy Mike said...


I have many of the same thoughts you do. Almost exactly the same actually. I often have trouble forming new friendships because I don't see the point if they're just going to end anyway.

I've seen what happens to most friendships over time. Good friends stop talking to each other and hanging out once they get significant others. I know... I was one of those people. When I dated my ex, I had little time for anyone else. It was just me and my girlfriend. My friends eventually stopped calling me to hang out because I was constantly doing things with her. When we broke up, I went back to hanging out with my friends, but then they started to couple up one at a time and doing their own things. It left me the odd man out.

That's my view on relationships now. I don't even know if I really want to be in a relationship for any reason other than to quell my loneliness. I just want someone to talk to and hang out with on a regular basis. Not to mention the whole physical intimacy thing... that's a big plus too.

If I could be 26 for the rest of my life, I don't think I'd ever want to get married or have kids. However, I can't imagine how miserable I'll be if I'm alone at 35 or 40. Growing older is hard enough, but to do so without a partner by your side is terrifying... to me at least.

sickofstupidpeople said...

Mike, I think I went through a similar phase around the same time. A few years after college, I allowed myself to drift away from my group of friends. They were all artists and musicians, out partying til all hours, drinking, doing drugs. They were also living 4 or 5 roomies to a house, had no constant source of income, and hittin the food banks regularly. I had a career, a new car, a rental house to myself. We had nothing in common.
I started making friends at work - pharmacists, techs, doctors, nurses...
Now, at 41 yrs old, all of my friends are people I've met through work in one way or another (with the exception of my BFF since 17 yrs old, and my hubby, who I met while walking my dog in the park) You'll get through this time, don't worry...

Ku said...

Mike, the quantity of your friends is not nearly as important as the quality of your friends. You will know them when you find them. Relationships with a MOTAS are somewhat the same: as soon as you stop looking for it, it will find you.It may sound cliched, but it's true.

Brittany said...

So, I have to say... I am a pharmacy technician and I have read, what seems like, your entire blog in this one sitting. Lol... I love how you talk and just explain your day to day obstacles.

Anyway, I don't see what is so bad about you going ahead and playing a game of basketball. Yes, anyone is hard on themself when they have a bad game... But that's natural. If it is something that truly excites you, gets you pumped, and most importantly, gets you out of your stinkin' apartment just for a couple hours... do it!

I can tell you're a smart guy, being a dork isn't bad, and you are probably very good at what you do. Stop being so hard on yourself. :)

Pharmacy Mike said...

Being hard on myself isn't really the problem. The problem is that I let my performance in a meaningless men's league game affect my entire life.

I don't just beat myself up over a bad game. I hate myself. I let it carry over into every other part of my life.

I'll start playing again eventually, but I have to be at a point mentally and emotionally where it's just fun. I think I'm really close.

Meghan said...


I understand about not knowing who you really are. I've spent the last 3 years taking care of someone else. Now that they are a lesser part of my life, I have to figure out who I am again. If you want someone to talk to feel free to e-mail me.

Anonymous said...

I swear you're my clone....I was the top athlete too, but a few years of school, retail, and general responsibilities soon replaced time I had for sports. I think you should still're just rusty. It's a rut...Jordan had them, Lebron too, and you now. Like u said, it's exercise. Most importantly, it's's a self-check to see if you can develop your game into something more refined. You don't have to dunk when you can simply lay it up. I just focus on maybe 2 to 3 "ooh an ahhs" after a crossover just so everybody respects the new guy. At 27, I understand the changes you're going through... Club scene is old, playboy lifestyle isn't that appealing even if she's hot....the next 30 years or so should be about pushing yourself to new heights. Choose a new sport (boxing for me) and work from there....learn to play instrument....start a business or 2....attempt to improve the world if you can't seem to enjoy it all the time. Brainstorm a'll be okay