I can’t think of how many times I have used the phrase ‘I just feel like I am behind the 8-ball‘ and have not recognised how unhealthy and detrimental a statement like this is.
For as long as I can remember I have felt like I’ve missed something – some kind of hidden social instructions I seem to have not received at birth like everyone else seemed to have received.
Primary school was confusing but high school was a nightmare – just keeping up with the spoken and unspoken rules, the timetable, the homework, and the social scene was a daily challenge and I often got home pretty tapped out from it all.
And try I did – pushing myself in everything I did, not to keep up with the Jones’ but to keep my head above water. Like Dory, I just kept swimming, hoping that at some mysterious point it would get easier.
But it didn’t. And it hasn’t.
So this got me thinking. I am 48 this year and still feel a lot of the time that I am behind that blasted 8 ball and my frustration has birthed a realisation that just like the ‘fake it to you make it‘ mantra we sing from the rooftops in my culture, staying ahead of the 8 ball is unrealistic and, well, a fallacy.
I took this thought further and wondered, whose 8 ball am I behind anyway? Who am I racing to overtake? And what does the 8 ball even mean in context to my life?
These questions keep prompting a memory where I think I tried out Little Athletics. This may or may not be true as if it is, it didn’t last as sports were definitely not in my future and still aren’t.
But I do remember one thing from that experience: it was all about racing against yourself, challenging yourself to improve on your personal best, not on that of the other kids. And I liked that. At least I have taken that idea into my adulthood but now I want it to be more than just a nice idea. I want to start living it.
So then, what am I going to do with that 8 ball? If I start living my life according to my own set of goals, standards, and expectations, judging my efforts on previous efforts, and giving myself opportunities to grow based on what I value and believe about myself, I might stop looking for the 8 ball. In fact, I might just surpass it.
Overall I think we use these phrases and others like them flippantly. I don’t want to be flippant. I’ve never liked it – treating life casually and not having any desire to make the most of it is a waste.
But so is trying to keep up with everyone else…
Anyone up for pool?