This post is written by Teddy Teece. Teddy lives in Berkeley, California and divides his time between for profit and non-profit ventures. He is writing a semi-autobiographical book about the psychological concerns of students athletes. You can follow him on Twitter here!
What if I told you that first thing tomorrow morning, your friends and family – your boyfriend, your girlfriend, or your spouse – your employer and co-workers – and you, yourself – would no longer respect you, care for you, or want to be associated with you? On top of that, what if I asked you to take whatever it is you’re most passionate about and dedicated to in this world, throw it away, and find something new?
Now suppose I came to you just before dawn and told you that none of what I just said actually had to happen – that it could all be avoided so long as you followed one simple order: Don’t eat.
Oh and one more thing – suppose I told you there was a pill you could take that would kill your appetite while making you stronger, smarter, and more attractive to the people around you whose attention you crave most?
Come sunrise, would you skip breakfast and take a pill for lunch, or would you fly full-throttle into a hurricane that would leave your self-conception and social life in tatters?
Now, some of you may have actually faced some version of this scenario, or thought you were facing it, at some point in your early life. Others may find it unfathomable.
I am writing this now because I chose to skip the food and take the pills rather than throw my identity into the fires of uncertainty.
Of course, the stark terms and ultimatums within which I’ve framed this hypothetical scenario are largely irrational and imagined, and in some sense could never really unfold. Rarely, if ever, does anyone encounter a choice or turn of fate that will result in what I described. But, especially as young adults, what determined our realities more than our deepest fears, our hopes and dreams, and the stories we told ourselves about how the future would unfold?
I’m not rehashing my past right now to determine what – if anything – I’d change about it. Rather, I’m sharing my experience with you because I’ll bet that there’s someone in your life, right now, who feels stuck between a rock and a hard place – who feels like it’s all or nothing, and that to avoid becoming nothing they must put his or her body (and surely with it their mind) in the line of fire.
Think hard on it. You might find this person in an unexpected, far away place, or they might be right at home. Ask yourself – what might they do to hold onto their social identity, the admiration of their peers, and their self-respect?
If the answer comes anything close to “too much,” then please – the next time you get a chance – let them know you love and care for them no matter what, and that they always, always have a choice.