Throughout my life, I’ve experienced deep periods of reflections, where I’ve critiqued and judged some of the critical happenings on my journey. Many times, I’ve seen myself as a failure because of the goals that I personally held onto. I was attached to an idea of what I should be and what I should be getting. I wasn’t looking from a neutral perspective. I was biased.
This bias is a problem for all humans. One of the dangerous ways bias impacts our daily lives, is bias of the outcome of events. We rush to judge a situation to determine whether or not it’s good or bad for us. We then take the result of that and determine a behavior that coincides with it. But life, doesn’t work like that. We cannot get attached to outcomes and judge them because we don’t know if they’re truly good or bad for us in the moment or down the line. Most people call this finding the silver lining, looking immediately for whatever positive it is, that you can learn.
During my senior year of high school, one month before graduation and 3 1/2 months after I signed my letter of intent to college, I hurt myself. Really bad. Bad to the point where they thought I needed a screw, bad enough that they said a break would’ve been better. USC wanted me to now come in the winter and not the fall, I’d have to go a Junior College. My heel ended up where my big toe was and like a rubber band, it twisted back. The damage was done. I’d managed to turn my ankle given from God, to an ankle created by a man made mistake. From that moment on, I was not the same player I was that got a scholarship. I thought my life was over. My world crashed. I felt forsaken as though I failed God and he took everything away from me.
Throughout my post high school football career, I held onto the idea that me hurting my ankle was bad for me, I felt it limited me. It changed my life. I no longer felt whole. I felt like an 80% shell of myself. My mind at times, was able to do stuff my body couldn’t. I suffered depressive spells, thinking I’d busted my own bubble that the universe put me in. But I was judging, I was biased, I was wrong. The fact that, over a 10 year period, I let a singular evening haunt me, I felt forsaken. Thinking it negatively altered the course of my life…I saw football as my gift, and it was ruined.
What I didn’t know was that this is one of the best things that happened to me. This injury put a ceiling on my potential. This injury allowed me to remove my identity dependence on football. I saw that what God had given me was fragile. I needed to develop the other side of self, so that I wouldn’t drown if my boat went down. If football didn’t work.
I didn’t commit less to football, I committed more to myself. I realized that all of the things I held to be true, I needed to explore myself. I became thirsty for answers. Socrates became my mentor. This guided my journey through philosophy and East Asian philosophy. Committing more to myself allowed me to give 100% to football even though I was no longer dependent on it. I committed to football so I needed to finish it. Instead of finishing my path how I started, I used failure to grow.
When you maximize the return on failure, you turn seemingly bad things into very valuable things. I thought I was doomed. What I did, was find a way to keep going despite my opinion of my ankle injury being good or bad. I didn’t give up on my path, I didn’t lose faith. I readjusted and pivoted along the way. I bought myself enough time to see that the entire time, life knew what it was doing. In hindsight, everything happened perfectly. I wouldn’t change a thing. I learned.
I learned that, in life, good or bad, circumstances if handled the right way, will lead us to where we’re supposed to be. To the now. Through football I didn’t receive the fame or riches my mind desired, I did receive what my heart desired. To be in a situation to provide significant resources to my community. Through football, through the journey, I’ve met many people that will help me along my journey of life. Life is about the journey, the journey is the destination because the destination is self.