I think reflection is one of the most important things we should do, every day. It’s important, in a life that can be so fast-paced and busy, that we do that; that we slow things down.
Last week, Kobe Bryant wrote a piece in the Player’s Tribune entitled “Letter to My Younger Self.” As I read it, I considered what I would tell my 17-year-old self – I’m 20 – or even my 7-year-old self.
I went line by line, narrating the piece in my head, unpacking it some. His main nugget of advice was to invest – in people; the people closest to you. I thought about what that meant, and about persons who have entered and exited my life for various reasons. I thought of my relationship with my father and how it has evolved over the years. I grew up in a place where a lot of kids didn’t have fathers in their lives.
Heck, the majority of my closest friends’ fathers aren’t major parts of their lives, to this very day.
I remember when I was little, maybe six or seven or so, that sometimes, on Saturdays my father and I would be outside. We had a huge gated yard, I remember. We didn’t toss a baseball back and forth, but I remember we used to kick this soccer ball around the yard. Then, there was one Christmas that I got an unexpected, but meaningful present.
It was a basketball rim. It looked like this:
I’ve loved basketball my whole life and basketball was one of the main things that my father and I bonded over.
This was an investment into our relationship as father and son.
Realistically, I could never play basketball competitively because of my visual impairment, but he taught me how to play. He taught me how to dribble, how to chest pass, and bounce pass, and shoot. I remember coming home from school and shooting, by myself, on that rim for hours and hours. I loved it.
In hindsight, I would tell my younger self to really cherish those little moments with my father because the truth is that a lot of people never get to know what those moments feel like.
My relationship with my father was an important template, I learned, on the value of investing time and love in people. Pondering that, I noticed that as a kid, I preferred to keep a small circle. Not much has changed in that regard, and I think it’s been a wise decision.
Trust, I find, is one of the most important things people talk about. For me, I always kept a small circle for that reason. I needed to know that if I was investing time in them – those in my circle – that they would be people I could trust, rely on, and be honest with me – especially if the truth wasn’t what I necessarily wanted to hear.
A lot of people will tell you all kinds of things. It’s important to realize who is actually in your corner, journeying through life with you, for you and not just their own benefit down the road.
Bryant discusses the possibilities of anger, resentment and jealousy as he become wealthy and prominent in the basketball world, but I think it’s important to realize that it doesn’t take money nor status to elicit jealousy from those around you. Sometimes, if you’re working hard and attempting to strive for excellence in life, persons won’t like that. There will be people that won’t like that you have aspirations and dreams, but that’s fine.
Looking back, I would tell myself not to worry about people exiting my life.
I would tell myself that I didn’t need them when I was up all hours of the night studying for finals and they were asleep without a worry. I would tell myself that I would be going places, figuratively and literally, that those people weren’t ready to handle with me anyway.
Life taught me to stand on my own two feet from an early age and not depend on people for my own happiness, and I think that’s one of the most important lessons I had to learn thus far.
And yet, in life, it’s easy to think about the things that we go through as individuals. It’s easy to focus on what we want, and how we want to be perceived by others. However, often times it’s those who we share our journeys with that really make the difference. The truth is that more can be said about who we are by looking at who’s in our circle. I’m grateful for who I’m facing life with at the moment.
Best investments I’ve made to date.
Who are you investing in?