I always find it fascinating that often, when a young athlete has a big dream and dedicates himself to pursuing it, so many of his “friends” come out of the woodwork to point out to him why what he’s going after is impossible. “You’re not big enough, strong enough, fast enough or talented enough to do that!” “What, are you, stuck up or something? Do you feel that you’re better than us?” Do these “friends” think that their supportive, “good advice” is motivational and helpful? Are they trying to protect their good buddy from crushing disappointment and failure? I wonder if they’re at all in touch with their own inner feelings of insecurity, the feelings which usually drive such “help.”
Having a big goal and beginning to pursue it usually makes the people around you very uncomfortable. Trying to do what others consider to be impossible tends to upset the apple cart, sending all of the ‘experts’ into a tizzy. This is always the case whenever someone tries to break free from the status quo. There is always a strong, emotional gravitational pull to get you back down to earth. For pre-adolescent and adolescent athletes this emotional pull usually comes from your peer group, although sometimes mean-spirited and immature coaches and teachers will even try to shoot your dream full of holes. When it comes from your friends, the gravitational pull to get you back in the fold is usually the threat of ridicule and isolation.
No kid wants to be socially on the outside looking in. Unfortunately, very often the “in-group” that you so desperately want to be a part of, demands from you a very costly membership fee. In order to fit in and be accepted as one of the guys, they want you to stop pursuing excellence and being who you are. The unspoken message in their oftentimes cruel and negative behavior towards you is, “give up this crazy dream of yours and stop trying to be better than us and then we’ll be nice to you again.”
There are many things in life that are ultimately important and my belief is that fitting in isn’t one of them! Why do I say that? Because fitting in means that you will often accept average and mediocre as OK. Successful people, both in and out of sports rarely fit in. Instead, they structure their lives to be different, to be pioneers, to push the envelope of possibility, to see just how far that they can drive themselves. When the status quo and all the “experts” raise their collective voices in negativity and ridicule, the successful individual ignores them, continuing on their own path with even more determination.
People who dare to tell you what you can and can not do in your life, accomplishment-wise have absolutely no clue about what they are talking about! No one knows what you can accomplish except YOU! No one really knows what’s possible for you except YOU! Do not listen to those around you who are filled with jealousy and negativity. Their function in your life should be to simply confirm that you are on the right track!
And one final word on this: Real friends don’t tear your dreams down. Instead, they support YOU and your efforts to reach them!