Doing it For Me, Not You

Matthew - Dumfries/VA/22026, Virginia
Entered on February 27, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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The only way to live without regret is to live life by your own rules; I believe in being my own man, in taking initiative in my life and all of its decisions, challenges, and adversity which occur on a daily basis. This belief did not come naturally to me; rather I learned from the consequences and regrets I experienced in trying to appease others instead of staying true to myself.

My favorite and arguably the best basketball player of all-time, Michael Jordan, showed me more than anyone else how important it is to be true to yourself. In the season after the shocking murder of his father, he decided to retire from the NBA and pursue “his” lifelong dream of playing major league baseball. His retirement and rationale were highly criticized and questioned, and it was revealed later that making it to the big leagues had always been his father’s dream, not his own. After his baseball career flopped, MJ returned to dominate the sport he knew best with the knowledge he had regretfully wasted nearly two years of his prime basketball playing days living out someone else’s dream.

Regarding situations of the heart or my self-identity, I normally learn only after I’ve been hit repeatedly over the head by an idea or insight. The two-by-four which changed my outlook and mentality was not one set event; rather it was the culmination of years of events and the ultimate realization, the realization that I had been swimming competitively throughout high school only to appease others.

What I really had wanted to do was play basketball for my high school, but instead I logged around 30 hours a week at swim practice because that’s what I thought my parents, girlfriend, and swim coach at the time wanted for me. This realization brought on regret and thoughts of what could have been, but I was also filled with resolve—I would take charge of my own life and decisions from then on.

In learning from my mistake about swimming and recalling MJ’s sole mortal moment, my new attitude and outlook towards all upcoming decisions was that I would make them on my feelings and my feelings alone.

I am not promoting selfishness or self-centered/egotistical behavior; alternatively I am seeking to become more independent and confident in my own abilities and decisions. I still consider and value what other people think and say, but I have learned to take everything with a grain of salt and to uphold and identify with my core beliefs.

Dr. Seuss said, “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”, and since my realization I have made my own decisions and have had no complaints or regrets—I am at the college I chose, taking the major I prefer, and playing all the basketball I want.