Sunday, November 3, 2013

Intrinsic Lack of Self-Awareness: Trophies Are For Winners

My oldest daughter had her last soccer game of the season yesterday so I made sure I was there to see it and attend the party afterwards. Watching kids play sports is difficult for me because the lack of understanding, skill and effort are glaringly obvious. But they're 8 so it's all for fun right? "Stop being such an asshole man and let them just be kids." Here's where I have a problem with that, I don't believe that you should half ass anything even if its just for fun. That doesn't mean that you have to win every game but you sure as shit better give 100%. Many times when you hear about young peoole that are brilliant in school, they are also star athletes. My hypothesis is that it's mostly due to them giving everything their best.

Apathetic people seem to be apathetic in their entire lives, for their entire lives. I don't want my children to be mediocre yet I don't want them to be perpetually driven and stressed. There's a huge difference between being driven and being excellent: one tries, the other simply is. How do I instill baseline self awareness and excellence into my children without turning them into OCD perfectionists?

When I was 10 I played the only team sport of my life (baseball) for one season. For a multitude of reason, I was one of the worst players on the team and I knew it even though no one ever told me. In fact when they handed everyone trophies at the end of the season I remember thinking "I don't deserve this. I suck". Trophies are for winners but these days everyone is a "winner" just for showing up. It's a bunch of hyper affirmation bullshit which, in my opinion, helps no one. A computer program won't do well if not debugged and children won't excell if not guided. My daughter seems to be completely unaware that she has a lot of improvement to do despite having other kids on the team that are much better than her. I hate to be the one to break it to her especially since I only see her on weekends.

When people find out how I grew up they almost always say "well you are pretty normal considering...." I have always been extremely self aware which is why I am who I am today. My behaviour was constantly analyzed and compared to the "normal" people I encountered in the real world and I adjusted accordingly. I would be remiss if I didn't point out the fact that while my self awarness has made me fairly normal, it also tortures me because I have a tough time shutting it down. Judging yourself non-stop is exhausting. The reason for my "condition" is because my mother was critical of everything I did as a child with no praise to balance it out. She meant it to help me, and it did to a certain extent, but it also has caused me a lot of pain and turmoil.

By no means did I have the worst childhood ever, but I want much better for my kids. I hope I can figure out how light a fire in them without burning down their soul.

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