Redefining My Identity

We all have a special way that we see ourselves.  Defined by our perceptions we become the heroes or villains of our own story.  And then there is the way that others see us.  Their stories are completely different from ours and their perceptions of us are often with less hero-glorification.  No matter what the case is, if we are not accustomed to intense self-examination, our view of ourselves may be far from the truth.  Here is one such instance, when the view I was carrying of my place in this world, and others’ views of who I was, came head to head and forever altered the reality that I was living in.

When I was nine or ten I joined the Cub Scouts with two other kids from my neighborhood.  One was my best friend who lived next door to me.  He was the faster, stronger, jock type, though at that age we hadn’t yet formulated those divisions.  The other was the new, mysterious kid from across the street. His family and he had recently moved to Seattle from out of state.  We hadn’t yet spoken a word to him, so it would be at the Cub Scout meetings where we would become friends.

Our troop didn’t follow the traditions very closely, but we were South Side; we didn’t do anything by tradition.  Although I never learned how to tie knots, we did have a good baseball team; in fact, we won every game.  This was my first introduction to sports so I wasn’t great, but I was part of the team, and since it was the Cub Scouts they always made you feel good about yourself.

I played third base, which to me was a little boring.  My next door neighbor had the glamor position.  He played left field and caught pop ups every game.  Everyone always cheered for him.  I knew that I was as good as him, but was just not getting the opportunity to shine.  I let quite a few balls pass me by at third base, but I never felt that I was not fulfilling my responsibilities – I just didn’t think those balls were for me.   And though I didn’t feel it, everyone kept telling me how important my position was and how hard it was to play since you needed a strong arm and good footwork.  So I settled into my place as the trusty third basemen.

I didn’t understand my true talent level until the end of the season, when we had the championship showdown.  The four best teams from our league were there, and each team played all the others in a round robin showdown format.  The team that had the most wins at the end would be kings of the world.  The only problem was that only three of the teams showed up.

After consulting with each other, the coaches decided that each team would give up two players to make up a fourth team.  With teams this young the coaches did the pitching and the catching so only seven players were needed to take the field.  One of the other teams gave three players.

When our coach announced this plan to our team, we looked at each other shouting things like, “Well, it ain’t gonna’ be me!”  Imagine my surprise and horror when our coach solemnly announced that he had already selected the two members from our team and that one of them was me!

What? Me?  They didn’t want me?  But wasn’t I a key member to our championship ride?  Needless to say, I was devastated.  The only thing that I remember about those games was that at one point I was on first base and the next hitter had reached the base before I had even realized that he had hit the ball.  All of the coaches were yelling, “Run, run.”  My head just wasn’t in it.  All I could think of was, “they didn’t want me.  They didn’t want ME.”

Our Cub Scout troop won that championship, but of course there was no joy in it for me.  The team I played with had lost every game.  When I came home that night, I told my parents that we had won and they were so happy for me.  But, I couldn’t share my shame with them.  My Mom only heard about what happened weeks later from another parent.  She didn’t blame me for not telling her about it.

We would win the championship each of the next two years and I would play the full season for those teams.  Although I got much better at the game, it never left my consciousness that I was the worst player on the team, and so needed to work the hardest.


Have you ever had realizations about yourself come crashing down on your reality?


Written for Writing 101: A loss

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  1. I remember a time when I gave a presentation along with two or three other colleagues. Our styles were different in that they were very conversational and interactive. I was a university instructor/assistant professor at the time so I used slides and did that style for my portion. I was presenting stages of childhood development so in my mind that worked well.

    At the end of the program the colleague I was closest to told me I had done a good job and we celebrated an event well done. However the next time there was to be a presentation, he told me that he would never present with me again. He said what I had said was incredibly dry and boring and seemed horrified with the memory. I asked him why he didn’t say that when it happened and he said he didn’t want me to feel bad.

    Well I certainly felt a whole lot worse to discover that I had been lied to and that someone I respected so much thought so negatively of me. It also made me doubt myself and my teaching abilities.


  2. In college, I had one math professor who made my life miserable.
    I am awful at math, so naturally I struggled at the class. I stayed after to ask him for extra help, and he had the nerve to tell me that I wasn’t doing the reading or the work. I was doing both, but I just couldn’t understand the math. He gave me a hard time whenever I asked him for help, so eventually I stopped asking him and struggled with it on my own.

    After taking this class, I never wanted to ask for help again. Fortunately I passed with a C so I never had to see him again 🙂


  3. I guess we all have re-defining moments as kids.. some of them not so fun :/ but its interesting to hear it articulated from the perspective of being an adult, and having the understanding of what we experienced and how it formulated our thought patterns.. I remember being a kid and feeling like life was just “happening” to me and these experiences were just things to “go through”, without contemplation or understanding of what was happening..


  4. For me it was cricket – worst player. And everytime I used to shift my place on the ground – the ball would come to me & i will drop it. :P….football was much better 😉


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