We were playing Vanderbilt in 2011. It was the 4th quarter and we had the game in the bag because our defense was playing so well. Our plan was to run the clock out by running the ball. I took a handoff and went through the left A gap and someone came and hit me head to head. When I got up I was discombobulated and my vision was frazzled. The field and the players all turned into cartoonish mush. Picture trying to watch TV one inch away from the screen- that’s how I was perceiving. I know I should’ve come out but I didn’t. Somehow I took the handoff and got three yards on the next play. Thank God the coach took me out after that.
This was the mentality I had ever since I started playing the game of football. You don’t come out, you don’t get tired, you out-will your opponent until they quit. This was a trait I took pride in. At the end of the day, toughness is non-negotiable in the sport.
Never show weakness.
That’s why Deebo Samuel is best player in the NFL.
Get your ass up and keep going. I’m always good.
As an everyday human this trained mentality and habit of always saying “I’m good” followed me into how I operated as a husband, friend, and son and has been a big reason why I went through tough times alone. It was an embedded lie. My most ready made response. I used it so much that I forgot how to cry. I don’t blame football. Football has been a blessing in my life and continues to be. It’s just a fact of who I am and we all have our reasons.
There are so many factors that play into why we don’t express our true feelings. Some of us had no one to care for us and practically raised ourselves. Maybe some of us were hurt or shunned so we can’t let anybody get too close. These traumatic experiences make an impression on our brain and the brain does not forget. Not to mention, we’ve been socially conditioned to say something quick in passing to the question, “how are you” which makes it even harder to really know. We can’t spill our hearts to everybody we come in contact with- that would be weird. Everyone is not worthy of hearing your story. However, I do believe we can explore that question “how are you” with ourselves a little more.
When we say we’re good what are we actually saying?
How do we know when we’re good and when we aren’t?
If you’ve never really thought about it this is not an easy question to answer. For the longest time I had no clue. Completely oblivious. Now I know it’s mental clarity and I know the recipe for how to achieve that. One of my ingredients is nature. No matter the weather- rain, sleet, snow, or shine, getting outside boosts my mood significantly. But I didn’t always have this knowledge. What helps more is to notice the opposite patterns.
I know I’m not good when the only thing on my mind is the next time I’m going to get high.
I know I’m not good when I’m being short with my wife .
I know I’m not good when I see my dog as an annoyance.
I know I’m not good when I’m ignoring calls and scrolling on my phone aimlessly.
I know I’m not good when I’m attempting to escape the present moment- dreaming of the next vacation.
Again, this took time to even notice. I used to justify these patterns as this is who I am when really they were just unskillful coping mechanisms. The truth of the matter is we all have some stuff. Some of it we may not be proud of, but we’re human. And it’s ok that you aren’t perfect. Its ok to be ‘not good’.
Some of my student-athletes and our encounters will be stuck in my brain forever because of their bravery. I sit in front of them and preach to them the importance of asking for help when you’re dealing with stuff. And they listen. Unafraid and unashamed, they come to me with their problems, their struggles, their weaknesses. We put together game plans on how to best move forward. After every meeting I’m inspired but also forced to take a real hard look at myself and analyze my inner world. Is there something I’m repressing? Is there something I’m avoiding? What I’m starting to realize is that the courage to be vulnerable is contagious and just because I’m the mentor doesn’t mean I can’t learn from the mentee. I still have my habitual “I’m good” response locked and loaded. From them, I’m learning freedom. The freedom to be real. The freedom in asking for help. The freedom that comes from not lying to yourself. How do I know when I’m really good? When I can sit in front of them as a whole person. Listening intently without trying to fix them, just listening. Damn, football really is the gift that keeps on giving.
With peace and love
(Drop your answer in the comment section below)
How do you know when you’re good?
What are some activities or exercises that you do to boost your mood ?
My favorite song to boost my mood. Listen here: Shannon “Let the music play”