The curse of one’s passion

Having a passion for what you do will rub people the wrong way because you are perceived as controlling and combative. You scream at the top of your lungs and argue with the best of them because your vision is so bright that others can’t even so it. Your confidence is mistaken for arrogance and your pride is mistaken for selfishness. You are blessed but also cursed with passion. Your body says, “Enough is enough” while on the other hand, your mind says, “Okay, you can push a little more.”

Recently, I’ve been playing pick up basketball. It’s brought back great memories of the battles I’ve had on the blacktop in my middle school and high school days. I would get out of school around 3ish, complete my homework, then play until it was dark outside. I battled anybody who stood in my way or I shot hoops by myself to get better.

It was a sunny Wednesday afternoon and we had enough to run fives. The competition was pretty stiff that day. Some local athletic high school and college kids came to play. Apparently, a couple of them currently play high school basketball and division 3 college basketball. But I refused to be intimidated. I stretched my body, laced my sneakers up tighter, and stepped on the court ready for another basketball war.

The teams were now locked in place. The first game they got the better of us by using their speed for fast break opportunities, moving the ball around and communicating on both sides of the court. I knew it was going to be hard to beat them so that’s why I stepped up and starting calling the shots. I couldn’t let some young kids show me up on my court. This was our court, not theirs.

We played six more games that day up to 11. Each game was more grueling than the next. I can tell my teammates were not feeling great. But they didn’t want to lose either. It’s funny because we usually take it easy because we’re a little older now. But sometimes, it does get competitive.

There’s always that one baller who gives up when there’s real competition to face. This one kid kept babbling on about how great the opposing team was so good and unbeatable. I can tell in his eyes he didn’t have the heart to win and it really pissed me off.

I was in general mode. The ship was sinking and the last thing I wanted to hear was any whining or self-doubts because it was time to man up and win. After the fourth game was over, I screamed at him and said, “I don’t care where these kids came from they ain’t beating us again. They ain’t shit and I’m going to keep fighting until we win.” He remained silent and was in disbelief that I yelled at him. Eventually, he left the court and another guy filled in for him.

This kid is the typical baller with so much potential but refuses to use it. When I was younger I was I scolded in the same way by a taller guy who was one of the best. He had the height, post game, defensive ability, and most importantly, the heart. He told me, “I have the talent but I don’t know how to use it.” After he said that, I kept quiet and didn’t think much by it back then.

Now, I realize he was trying to get me to utilize my maximum potential because I kept playing scared and refused to shine brighter. I wasn’t so insecure with myself back then, maybe basketball would have been a career instead of a hobby now.

Each game drained me mentally and physically. My knees were about to cave and my arms were shot. Still, I rarely missed any shots, found the open man and ran back on defense as if my life depended on it. We chipped away as much as we could but we didn’t win a single game. However, each game my teammates and I became better acquainted with one another. That day after we lost, the sun went down. We looked at each other with sweat dripping down our foreheads, drenched t-shirts and shorts in desperate need of water with our heads held high because we played like men. Our passion for this sport shined through and we left it all on the court. And that’s all you can ask for.

On and off the court, my passion can rub some people the wrong way. It’s either I tell it like it is, no filter or script because I care or I’ll just shut up and let it go because I don’t care at all. With me, there is no in between. I just play off of the energy in the room. It’s a curse because realistically I want people to push themselves but I’ve had to convince myself that everybody is not built like I am.

Never apologize for being passionate about your work. If people get rubbed the wrong way then oh well. It’s not your fault for carrying yourself with a chip on your shoulder. If you didn’t have that chip, you wouldn’t do amount to anything now, would you? Realize this so you don’t feel guilty about your passion. The people who lack passion are the ones who don’t amount to anything.

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