Yesterday I was thinking about a kid on my junior high school wrestling team. This kid was an incredibly gifted athlete. Without ever having wrestled a day in his life, he showed up at practice and started steamrolling kids who’d been wrestling since they were in diapers. So it was no surprise when he won the wrestle-offs to represent our team in the first meet of the season.
The surprise came later when he didn’t make weight the morning of the meet. Yet more surprising was the reason. The night before, while the rest of us were nibbling celery, he’d gorged on a Big Mac and fries. WTF? This pattern repeated itself for two more weeks. Win wrestle-offs, miss weight, watch the meet from the sidelines. Finally the kid just stopped showing up for practice.
I think I understand what this kid was going through. When it comes to self sabotage I’m a frickin’ Jedi. How I wish I could go back in time and tell this kid what I’ve learned over the past three decades: you may as well throw your hat in the ring because the sting of defeat is brief. You’ll hang your head and avoid your friends for a day, but the next day it will be as though nothing ever happened.
But you never, ever forget a squandered opportunity. The memory of what could have been will be a millstone around your neck forever. If you collect enough of them you’ll turn into that sad sack, glued to his couch, feeling sorry for himself as he cracks a beer and searches for the channel changer.