Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Just Show Up

I played college basketball.

Okay, scratch that--I took a basketball class in college for one credit.

Since I am being honest it is only fair that I also tell you that my friends used to come by the gym in their downtime just to watch me play. As in…do you want to see something funny?

I was that bad.

At orientation on the first day it took me mere seconds to realize how in over my head I was. My neighborhood, and the campus that I was attending, were in an inner-city area and all I had really been looking to do was step up my H-O-R-S-E game a notch; the six and eight year-olds in the after school club were making me look bad and I had to do something about it; earning credit was simply a bonus.

Until the moment that my Nike Cortez-clad foot passed the threshold into the building, I had not calculated for the fact that little neighborhood kids grow up to be big neighborhood kids who sometimes go on to take one-credit-basketball-classes too. Evidently, sometime shortly past the age of eight my classmates had moved well beyond a friendly game of H-O-R-S-E. Conversely, I can't tell you with any level of confidence if I even knew what basketball was before Junior High.

Not only was I unskilled and short and white, I was likewise the only girl there.

It was absurd.

SO absurd that I could not help but laugh at the situation that I had walked myself into.

I was going to die.

I could tell by the wide smile on my coach's face when I pulled him aside after class to ask if he thought maybe-I-should-just-go-now, that he was amused by the dynamics too. Despite my odds, he invited me to stay, anyway...if I wanted to.

I was barely not a teenager at the time and still prone to self-harm, so I did.

The coach was great.

I absolutely respected that man.

Eventually, he began to do things like announce to my teammates that none of their points counted until I made a shot. When they did finally try to pass me the ball and I missed it (of course I was going to miss it!) he would yell things like: 'See boys, you haven't thrown her the ball in so long, she's forgotten how to catch!'

Harassed by the coach on the court -- this means I am in right?

I wish that I could brag about how much my game improved by the end of the term but in reality my biggest skill was in regularly fouling the one guy on the other team who could only shoot three-pointers. He was horrible on the free throw line and I was horrible at everything but making baskets when no one was in the room, so you can see how I might have been an asset to my team in that one regard.

I'm not sure if I could have told you even then why I kept showing up for class. I could have dropped it immediatly and everyone's reaction would have been like, well yeah...naturally.

I had no business being there.

I feel the same way about many of the situations I find myself in today, too.

Do you have these places in your own life?

If I could meet with my younger self I would reaffirm to her that regularly showing up in life really is the goal.

There is immense value in allowing ourselves to stay in situations that cause us to feel the discomfort of being in over our heads.

In fact, if we rarely find ourselves in a place of discomfort it might be time to ask ourselves some hard questions about why that is.

It is a timely reminder to me now that I am older and the stakes are higher:

Even when it seems that you are not making any progress--show up

Even when others might give you an easy out--show up

Even when the little success that you do experience is a lot like making baskets when no one is in the room--show up

Just show up.


  1. Best advice ever! LOVE IT!

  2. Thank you! Can I ask you if you used a phone to comment? I am having some commenting issues that I am trying to get worked out so your feedback is very helpful.



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