Damn you, Seth Godin.
With one small little tweet, you managed to send me right back to high school. And back to one of the worst decisions I ever made.
You know how there are some moments in your life that you can’t forget? Those moments where, for whatever reason, you can remember every second with complete clarity?
So, this particular incident happened to me in tenth grade. I was on the JV field hockey team and it was the very last game of the season. My coach called me over to the bench prior to the game and announced that she was going to make me play that day on the VARSITY team.
Talk about a panic attack. Playing on varsity while you were in tenth grade rarely, if ever, happened. To say that I was shocked would be an understatement. I was nervous. I was worried. But I was thrilled.
I wouldn’t say that I did anything especially remarkable in that final game. But I WAS a player on the varsity team. My being bumped up early meant that the coach thought that I had potential.
After loading off of the school bus and shuffling back into school that evening, I was stopped by a another “varsity” teammate. This girl was intimidating in terms of skill, social standing and frankly, sheer bulk. She physically backed me into the water fountain and said to me, ‘Just because you got to play today doesn’t mean you should get a big head. Don’t think too highly of yourself. You’re nothing special. Got it?”
And then she left.
She had successfully put me in my place.
Do you know how profoundly that affected me? Well, let me tell you. I ended up so completely intimidated by her actions that I quit field hockey altogether.
I put down the stick forever.
I made a conscious choice to fly under the radar rather than shine. For the rest of my high school experience, I purposefully never gave 100% effort in order to stay on “steady ground.” I became so worried about what others thought of me that I decided I would rather them not think of me AT ALL.
I’m quite a few years older now and I have obviously had the opportunity to see the error of my ways. I should have used her comment as inspiration, not as a stumbling block.
Why am I telling you this? Motivation, people. To quote the Godin tweet, “We choose not to be remarkable because we’re worried about criticism.”
That is EXACTLY what I did in high school. I CHOSE not to be remarkable. I CHOSE not to develop my God given talents. I CHOSE to let someone intimidate me into submission and mediocrity. It wasn’t her fault. It was mine.
Remember that the next time you are being intimidated by that snarky co-worker, or so-called friend or way-too-much-time-on-their-hands neighbor.
CHOOSE TO BE REMARKABLE.
Now go pick up your hockey stick and play!