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Authority figures with issues suck.


Previous Entry Authority figures with issues suck. Oct. 23rd, 2004 @ 11:09 am Next Entry
Last night (or maybe this morning) I suddenly found myself remembering an event from junior high where my math teacher, who was also the school wrestling team coach, got really pissed off at me for ditching the team... and I finally realized that somewhere inside it was his issue that was really the problem.

I was a VERY small kid in junior high, weighing in at about 65lbs. I wasn't an athletic person in any way, and had absolutely no interest in proving this little fact. One day he approached me and asked me to join the team mid-season. His goal was to have a default win in my weight class because precious few other teams had someone as small as me... so when I walked out to meet my match, I'd never meet anyone, and would always have a default win. No problem.

I agreed to join on this basis... and made it very clear that I had no interest in actually wrestling anyone, which he didn't complain about. I went to one practice (where I got my ass kicked) and then went to the first competition. He walked into the warmup room after checking out the opposing team and gave me a "you're really going to have to do this" look. He gave me the option of forfeiting the match, since I definitely wasn't prepared for this... but all the looks at the other team members convinced me that I might as well try. We all knew I'd undoubtedly lose, but it was better to lose fighting than to lose by backing down... a sentiment I still think I feel the same about. I went out and met my match, and of course lost it after being in the ring for about 15 (10?) seconds.

The next morning I thought about it and decided that this wasn't what I'd signed up for, and I didn't want to do it. I went to him before school and gave back my uniform and told him I was quitting. He tried talking to me about it, then tried guilting me about it, then tried yelling at me about what a pathetic loser/quitter I was. I took it, because he was my teacher and someone I should listen to, and in the end still just walked away. He never really interacted with me the same way again.

In retrospect, it was more his issue than it was mine, though I don't presume to know what the issue was. I bought in based on what I was told, and what I was told wasn't the reality... so I walked away from false advertising. I don't know if he was trying to compensate for his presumed-failure son (who also quit the team), or from no longer having someone in the 65lb weight class, or from some vicarious need, or what... but in his eyes, what I wanted or felt was irrelevant. It didn't matter that the only reason I joined was as a favor to him, or that he didn't deliver on his pitch.

In retrospect, I don't need to feel guilty about this. It's not my fault. It's not something I need think about or worry about. It bears no reflection upon me (as I was just being who I am, rather than who someone else wanted me to be), and walking away doesn't make me a bad person. I guess in this realization, more than anything else I feel bad for him and his situation that made him need this, and for the other people that I can imagine he might have pushed things like this on to. Mind you, they're not my responsibility either, but I recognize the situation and sympathize with them.
Current Mood: nostalgicreflective
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Date:October 23rd, 2004 04:49 pm (UTC)

Sounds like the time dad got me to play (way out in left field) for a lil leage baseball game that was short one player... except I didn't get to wear a singlet. ;)

I dunno what your coach was thinking, though sometimes people bully instead of encourage. (uh, sorry 'bout that) Bullying is a quicker means to the end; In a real crisis, you'd want someone like him barking clear orders on what you should do... but otherwise people like him are simply making a crisis where none need be, where calm contemplation would have worked best.

I think really, the only regret you might hold for resisting his attempts to get you to stay on, is that today, you don't go around wearing singlets and beating people up... :)


You were just being who you were. This isn't a nit-pick on grammar; it's an important concept to understand that one is not quite the same person they were yesterday, let alone all that while ago.

You're not 65# any more, for one thing. You don't wear singlets anymore, for another... ... uh, yeah..

You've learned and done a lot more since then. My 'chris simulatior' of the Chris I know would have mouthed off to the bastard, in my experience. ;)

I learned to keep reminding myself that for most self-definitive statements I make (to myself and others), it's usually not an OR decision. It's an AND. (I'm an introvert and an extrovert. Today, having been out at a city function, and soon to a bbq(heh) with Leah, I'm mostly an extrovert.) You might find it less turbulent to be both definitions than one or the other. Try and see...


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Date:October 23rd, 2004 05:38 pm (UTC)
It's a common idea (don't know if it's reality or not) that bullying your charges can be a way to charge them up and challenge them. Unfortunately, that wasn't the best way to manage me... and even then (and my mom I think would generally agree) I had a reasonable idea about what I felt I wanted at the time. The fact that it wasn't what he wanted (for watever reason) isn't really my problem... and I guess that's the real summation of the realization for me.

Sometimes it's "and"... sometimes it's "or"... sometimes it's neither. In my opinion, the one absolute in life is that there are no absolutes.
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