I was sitting in Word Processing class. (That’s what we called it back in 1995 and we used the program called WordPerfect. Somehow, it’s still around.)
Chris said, “Are you trying out for the basketball team? Tryouts start in a few weeks, you know”
“No. Not this year,” I said.
Chris and I tried out in 8th and 9th grade, then didn’t make the teams. We weren’t bad, so we made it to the final cut both years. But we weren’t really good either so we made it to the end of the two week tryout period before we got cut.
If you’re not familiar with that particular brand of rejection, you typically go to the coach’s office door or the bulletin board in the gym and look for your name. If you don’t see your name, then you were cut from the team.
It’s not exactly fun to be rejected in a public way, but it’s a great lesson to deal with. Let’s face it: dealing with rejection well is a skill and a great one to have. We get rejected constantly and fail at things all the time, especially if we challenge ourselves.
“Why not, man?” said Chris, surprised at my response.
I started, “I see it like this: We can work super hard to make them team. And we’d have to get a little lucky, too. If one of us made the team, we’d definitely be riding pine. We’d never be a starter and we’d hardly play at all.”
Then added, “But there would be all the practices after school and away games. I’d rather spend my time doing other things.” Sure, those other things we not necessarily as cool as basketball, but sometimes they were.
“Oh. I see.” said Chris. “I guess that makes sense.” It did.
Chris didn’t try out in our sophomore, junior, or senior years. Neither did I.
Good Part of Not Trying Out and Giving Up
We did however play in some recreation leagues with other kids our age, I played in a Men’s league at the YMCA, and sometimes Chris and I just played 1 on 1 in his driveway after school. We got to play a lot more in real games and had more fun doing it.
It’s not bad being the big fish in the small pond.
Bad Part of Not Trying Out and Giving Up
Now, I’ll concede that if either of us would have practiced harder, worked out harder, then we could have made the team. Further, playing on the team with people way, way better, stronger, and tougher than us would have pushed us to another level of skill. We could have gotten better than either of us could imagine.
If you surround yourself with skilled people in whatever discipline you can’t help but get better if you try. We missed out on that.
Instead of basketball, I was able to work on other stuff that was more important: Studying. More on that later this week.