I never envisaged that I would write from the angle that I would today, knowing fully well that a while before the experience I write about today occurred, I would have ignorantly been on the side of the other team. The team that I do not support today
Understand firstly, that I am an individual who understands fully well, what responsibility and leadership entails, and I never glorify excuses, no matter how logical they appear to be. To me, excuses should never be a get out of jail card someone uses when the person fails to live up to responsibilities and expectations, no matter how sensible the excuses seem.
After listening to an excuse and analyzing it, I am the kind of person that would still utter the following words:
“You messed up, and that is the crux of the matter. You really have no excuse, and if you wanted to make things work, there would have certainly been a way to go about it”
I have successfully run with this mentality applying it to myself and to people I work with over the space of time, unable to fault its logic, especially as it helps me to be more and more effective and efficient in ‘getting things done’
When I become invested in something, anything, I am all about making it work and getting it done, and that’s the summary of it all. There are no two sides to it, there’s no option of failure, and there is usually never an option of giving up, or pulling out.
I haven’t been able to fault this line of reasoning until recently when I experienced first-hand, another angle to it.
I watched as a person close to me who handled responsibility, was the backbone of his team for a competition, was so passionate and invested in the success of his team, begin to win at the onset, but then suddenly fail and disappoint himself and his teammates due to reasons beyond his control.
Perhaps also, maybe as a result of the fact that the character under scrutiny today is someone close to me whom I might have an emotional attachment to, I have become sentimental and biased in my line of reasoning, and hence might be wrongfully trying to justify his irresponsible action of pulling out halfway through a competition.
I do not eliminate this possibility, but I would try my possible best, with all neutrality, and with a sitting on the fence mentality, to relay the story across, trying to capture everybody’s feelings as it was expressed, while I play the role of the omniscient point of view, not tampering with the story line as it unfolds. Today you would be the judge, and I, the story teller.
For the purpose of privacy, all names would be changed to conceal the identity of everybody involved.
George was the boy turned hero as the story unfolds; a perfect example of a boy with natural born traits of leadership, who understood the honour in responsibility, who managed to stand out, and who excelled at a certain competition. At the onset of everything, when the competition was about to commence, he had desires to participate in the competition for his strong love of it, for the glory of his team, and for personal glory of course, but after weighing a lot of odds, he declined to participate.
George knew that he had personal problems; very deep seated problems that successfully spanned between the ranges of being psychological, mental, emotional, to even medical. George knew that deeper than the glamour he radiated on the outside, he was a troubled being, whose issues brought him closer every day to the verge of being depressed, and he knew that his problems had a way of messing with the beauty of his reality, and causing trouble for him at unexpected moments.
George didn’t like these problems he had been burdened with for a long time without a choice and a way out, the same problem he had been trying to fight and overcome for a long time, but just like the real challenges of life, his issues were hard to resolve.
Very few people knew about George’s problems, like his therapist and counselor, because this weren’t problems he could disclose at random to anybody, so he kept it away from the knowledge of everybody. His professional acting skills masked his troubling imperfections, and paraded him as the perfect being with no problems at all, and everybody bought into the façade.
He kept this problems away from even his teammates, so when they pleaded with him to represent them in the competition, he counter pleaded that he could not, bringing up different false reasons why he couldn’t do it. He lied about the real reason.
He knew he could have out rightly said no and remained bent on that without giving any reason as to why he refused to participate, for after all he couldn’t be forced, but he was sensitive and didn’t want to be labeled as the proud corny bastard who felt too big to help his team win, so he cooked up different sentimental stories to convince them why he wouldn’t be able compete for them, but his soon to be teammates didn’t want to hear any of it, so they persisted in pleading.
The people originally supposed to represent the team, according to the judgment of the leadership of the team, was not good enough and the leaders felt that the team would fail woefully if those were the people that went for them, so they persisted in trying to bring George on board.
The main leader of the team, a girl named Jennie pleaded with him in utter desperation, and tried to convince him by showing him highlights of the competition that had already started in order to appeal to his competitive and greatness seeking nature, and it worked. The moment he got into the competition center and beheld people doing what he loved doing best, he felt the stir within him, like the game was calling out to him. Caught in the moment, with the pleas of Jennie still breathing down his neck, he shut out all hesitation and agreed to participate in the competition. He admits now that that was his biggest mistake.
He convinced himself that he was going to pull through this one without his demons interfering with his success story.
That night he told his therapist about it, and his therapist reacted in fear, stressing on how unwise a decision it was, but he further convinced himself that life was all about taking risks and if for nothing, his love for his team mates and the passion for his team would pull him through. He now believes this was his biggest most stupid thought.
George proceeded with preparations and suddenly it was like a level of hope returned to the team. Jennie stated from time to time, that with George and his close friend Sonia now on board, their chances of winning were higher.
George felt good to hear those complimentary words of encouragement, not because it fed his self-esteem or validated his importance, but because he liked the fact that he was being useful to the team, and he was able to help the team he loved.
He had also begun to develop an admirable kind of fondness for Jennie, the team leader whom he felt was a good leader and person, and this pure emotional attraction ailed him into putting in his very best, as he strived to make sure he didn’t disappoint her. Those were his motivations, though through all that show of strength, he still felt the fear and uncertainty.
A fear that no one could get a peek of because he covered it well, and when they looked at him, what they saw was a ruthless fighter
As a team with renewed fire, they went on into the first round of competition and won beautifully, and then they won the second and third rounds too, climbing higher up the ladder to where the trophy stood. These new set of victory came with new reputation for the team in general, and Jennie was largely pleased.
People began to look at the team as the underdogs of the competition, and it was a beautiful experience. George usually listened as the team leaders would recount instances of how people were now aware of their vigor, and looked at them with a new found cautiousness. As they recounted all of these, the team leaders would take delight in this glory. George liked it too, he really did, but he also felt the pressure build, and he began to feel the first shudder of his psychological demons turning within, as they began to gradually stretch.
I would love to tell you what exactly George’s problems are, but he wouldn’t want me to, but be rest assured that if you knew, it would automatically win you over to his side because of the strong emotions of sadness and pity it would infect you with.
However, the aim is to see if we all would be able to make rational decisions without our emotional compass already pointing towards a certain direction.
Feeding on their victory and what Jennie perceived to be George’s strength and passion, they became closer, and began to bond on this foundation. Jennie told George of her other bigger plans she had for their team, and George constantly declared his support and assistance to help her actualize them, and he meant every word of it. He was ready to give all it took to make them reach even greater heights.
It was also during this time that George began to fear he had made a mistake, as he felt his psychological imbalance beginning to return, and he felt the very first depths of emotional pain that came from a mixture of unhealed painful memories and disorders of his bad secret begin to tug at his mind. He began to subtly give signals as he joked about being mentally exhausted to continue.
He knew that if these issues fully manifested, he would not dare to continue the competition under that state. it would be a horrific experience if he did, and he knew as a matter of fact that he would not be able to even bring himself to go for the competition in such condition. It would spell his doom
Oblivious to everybody who only saw fire and determination whenever they looked at George, George began to question his decision to enroll in the competition, and to doubt his capacity to handle his internal issues and stop it from messing with other things.
George remembered vividly one time when during rehearsals and practice, he became inflicted with a mixture of fear of how it was all going to play out, and the first wave of his trauma hitting him, and in order to stay sane and quietly deal with it, he withdrew into a corner.
He remembered how Jennie had come to meet him and had enquired of him what was wrong, and how he told her he would be fine. she had implored on him that day to talk about what his problem was, and George wished more than anything that day that he could just spill a tad bit of his problems, and probably break down under her watch without a care in the world, but he knew it was an outright impossibility. When Jennie walked away that day, after some more feeble attempts at trying to get him to talk, and not succeeding, George caught himself wishing that she had persisted even for just a little bit.
The team went ahead to win the next round and etch even closer to the finals. They were closer than they had come in a long while, they could taste the victory at the tip of their tongue.
George doubled his efforts, trying to overlook his condition, and the night before their next competition, under the pressure and weight of the competition and more, he relapsed, broken under the weight of his problems. On phone that night, his therapist warned that if he didn’t want another total breakdown that would send him back into the unusual type of hospital, he better pull out before it was too late.
George went for the competition the next day regardless, knowing that whatever the outcome was, it would be his last. The team would have to find a way to survive without him, if they proceeded to the next stage.
By the end of the competition that night, they had just one more competition to seal their victory, but George pulled out, and it killed him from within.
The first wave of anger came through from his teammates, and George apologized profusely for not being able to do it, and when they asked why, he tried to say a lot without giving out anything, but it didn’t work. They didn’t want his diplomacy, they wanted to know plainly what his reasons were, and he could not give them that.
He was accused of being cowardly and scared to continue, and he defended that his reason was far from that.
He was accused of being irresponsible and that he took the whole competition from the onset to be a joke. Gnashing his teeth and absorbing the pain that came with such an accusation, he denied it too.
He suggested that a replacement be made for him as soon as, to prepare them for the next competition, but somehow they believed he would change his mind, and so lingered with finding a substitute until it was too late.
George understood their anger, he felt their pains, he was angry with himself for being so messed up to disappoint people who trusted so much in him.
He only wished that they could understand that his hands were tied. He knew he had lost their trust, it was only a normal decision to make in view of someone who disappointed, but he wished they would still understand however, that it wasn’t of his own making.
They enquired of him some more as to what his reasons were, so that maybe they would forgive him if they understood, but he couldn’t tell them. He couldn’t suddenly spill a secret he had kept to himself for four years of his life. He wished he could, he wanted to, but he just couldn’t.
You would never know how hard it is to spill a secret until you’ve had a secret so grave to keep, and it coming into light would spell your doom.
George sincerely understood Jennie’s anger. He really didn’t expect her to understand him, or take it easy with him, because he had just jeopardized her chances of being a winner and he hated himself more than they did, but what broke him entirely was Sonia, who was his friend even before the debate.
A part of him had expected Sonia not to out rightly understand, but rather to keep an open mind and not be so overly judgmental and jumping to conclusions that he was being proud, irresponsible, and incompetent to pull out in a competition like that, but Sonia would have none of it too. Sonia was pissed and that was it.
Sonia stopped talking to him, in order to reinstate how angry she was with him.
Their coach who also doubled as George’s mentor, a man whom George respected and admired simultaneously called him and tried to coerce him into joining the competition back, by playing the guilt card on him.
When George reinstated that he couldn’t due to reasons that would completely hinder him, no matter how much he wanted to, the coach painted a couple of scenarios and non-chillingly threw them at George more out of sarcasm than concern, and asked George if his problem was as bad as any of the ones he mentioned to warrant him to pull out of the competition.
For the first time in a long while, George felt hot tears well at corner of his eyes when his supposed mentor actually got one or two of his problems correctly in the spirit of sarcasm, but gnashing his teeth and putting up a fake smile that could have been seen through by anybody who was looking, George replied that none of the issues mentioned was what was wrong with him.
The way the coach painted the problems with so much mockery in his tone was already enough to make George realize that none of them was actually ready to deal with him, once they realized for sure what his problem was.
His coach warned that he would cut off all ties from him if he didn’t enroll back in the competition, but George could not
His coach warned that he would blacklist him, inform other team coaches about his supposed irresponsibility to prevent them from trusting him with anything in future, but still, George could not
His coach warned that he would pick and run with the mindset that George could not be trusted, was irresponsible, was cowardly, and was someone who ran from a fight, but even with all these implications breathing down his neck for not doing something he could do with a blink of an eye, George still couldn’t bring himself to do it.
The only questioned he asked his coach was simple
“Don’t you think that you should pause to ask yourself this; with all I stand to lose if I don’t go for this competition, how bad could my problem then be, be that I’d rather face all of these implications, than go for the competition?”
The coach wouldn’t take any of that nonsense logic.
Finally the competition came, and shaken from the effect of George’s ‘cowardice’ the team couldn’t bring themselves to be their best, and they lost.
George sat for hours staring into the horizon after the result of failure got to him, and feeling numb from the level of pain that flowed through his system, he allowed his guilt and conscience to eat him more than anybody could have ever done. He was saddened by his team’s defeat, but what saddened him more was the fact that their failure was strongly balanced on his shoulders.
Jennie reached out to George for what seems to be the last time, and she expressed her regret for ever trusting him, and for believing in his good intentions for the team. She told him that she was dropping him off from all the dreams she intended for the team, and she hoped he never gets betrayed the way he betrayed them.
Defaming messages were thrown at him from all angles
And when the congratulatory messages were finally made between teammates for a game well fought, George watched as all his previous efforts and inputs was sidelined into non-existence, and they congratulated their efforts while ignoring his, in an intentional act to put him in a place of irrelevance and scorn.
And that’s when George got angry
He damned the leadership of Jennie who didn’t think through the diverse possibilities of what could be wrong with him, and try to reach out to him as one of her own people, like a leader should. He dammed a leader who even after telling her that he was experiencing some ‘personal, but severe issues that wouldn’t allow him be able to compete like he so desired, would go ahead and paint him bad in the eyes of every party involved.
He damned Jennie, who couldn’t see through her emotional resentment and ask herself the questions that should matter.
He dammed Jennie who didn’t realize that the general welfare of every teammate should be put on a higher priority, than the momentary victory of one competition, when there could be thousands of other competitions.
He dammed Jennie for convincing herself that asking what his problem was because she didn’t want anything to jeopardize their victory was the same thing as asking what his problem was because she really cared for his welfare.
Then he dammed Sonia. Oh he dammed Sonia.
He dammed Sonia who was friends with him long before the competition, for not realizing from a personal point of intimacy, that he was not a quitter or one who pulled out from a fight, and for not knowing him well enough to know that he couldn’t possibly be insensitive to pull out without a just cause.
He dammed Sonia for not even for once asking why he couldn’t continue, but rather preferring to get angry and even get to a point of being angry with him to not talk to him anymore.
It was at this point of anger that another one of the many people who were angry with him stopped him and asked the question he was used to hearing
“Why did you pull out of the competition?”
“I had personal issues that got in the way of the competition. I wouldn’t have been able to compete with these problems in view” he said mildly and waited for the lashing
“How do you feel now?” this girl asked in a soft tune, and George looked up at her with shaky brows, too astonished to speak
“I would be fine” he finally replied.
“Thank you for how far you brought us in the competition. Thanks for all the work you put in to bringing us to where we got to, and I hope you resolve your problems soon” she said and reached out for a hug.
As George pulled into the embrace, the tears he had kept back for days found its way out without any form of hindrance.
This is a narration of a real life experience. I would spare you the bore of analyzing it, and giving my own opinions, but I desperately, sincerely want to know what you think about all of it. You would make my day, if you leave a comment in the comment box, and if you have any message for George too, please indicate and I would make sure it gets to him.
Thank you so much for reading all of it. You have my heart.
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