I was on the phone with my dad today. The conversation was supposed to be a normal check-in (like all good daughters, I call my parents a few times a week). He asked me about my life, job prospects and the usual, and I was happy to tell him I had just been offered a position. I told him it could be interesting and exciting and worthwhile and then he told me that I was doing it wrong.
My conversation with my dad ended in tears and I couldn’t figure out why. That was until I realized it was because of you. You, the constant reminder of my ineptitude, the one whom I run away from as a child flees a monster, the ever-present fixture in my post-high school life.
When I was young, it was easy to get away from you. I excelled in school so I never had to encounter you there. And if I did do an event that forced me to deal with you I could quit because why play the game if you know you’ll lose?
But of course, the man who never let me win and yet always made me play was the same one compelling me to keep moving forward in spite of you. And like so many of those games 15 years ago, this interaction ended in tears.
I’m not good at running at the wall, forcing it to move. If I get hurt the first time, I’m not coming back again to see if things change. At least not anymore. I think it’s because I’ve let you compel me. There was a time when I’d wake up every morning anticipating the moment when I would play basketball against my dad. And when I lost, I’d go back and practice until it was time to face him again and lose again. But then something happened. I don’t know what it was. But somewhere along the way I got so afraid of you that I stopped playing the game.
Even now, I’m really afraid of you. And I don’t like you. And I’m really torn about what to do next and where to go. But I’m also afraid that I’ll look back on my life and see a series of unfinished plans. But I’m even more afraid that I’ll look back and convince myself that it’s okay that those things were unfinished.
I never beat my dad in basketball and I think it was because before I was old enough or good enough to beat him I had already quit over my frustration with encountering you. But I always encounter you. And I guess I’m starting to see that my fear of you has led me to make a lot of safe decisions.
So I don’t know. I don’t know what to do about you. I just want to play basketball with my dad.