WARNING: This gets ugly.
A lot of you who think of me as a totally awesome, not spoiled, not greedy, not entitled person might have some illusions shattered.
(thankfully I don’t think anyone fits that category haha)
Don’t let yoyos define you.
You can have it be your primary creative outlet,
you can make your career out of it,
You can even have all your friendships come from it…
But don’t let it define you. Don’t get your identity from it.
I say this as someone who’s primary online username is either my own name… or “yoyoingadam.”
Tell me I didn’t let that slip in somewhere…
The thing is, I could lose it. I could lose my hands in a freak accident, or get old and get crazy arthritis or some weird degenerative disease… and what would I have then?
(Hopefully still a bunch of cool people as friends that I’ve made throughout the years…)
But my point is, as unlikely as it is for me to ever “not be able” to yoyo, if life happens and I can’t devote as much time as I used to, am I less myself?
If I’m perfectly honest, the more I let myself be defined as a “creative player” or as a “competitor”, if I let those outward labels stick to me, when I don’t live up to these outwardly placed expectations, I start to hate myself.
At the National Yo-Yo Contest in 2008, Doc Pop told me that I had the 2nd most votes for the “Trick Innovator of the Year” award. Right behind John Ando. At first, I was walking on cloud 9. That was a HUGE honor to be held in high-esteem by the “creative elite” of the yoyo world. But then I started to think about why I didn’t get it. And instead of appreciating the complexity of Ando’s contributions, I spent a good year or so picking them apart to explain to myself how my tricks were better than his. Although, I never said it openly, because:
- It’s not polite, and I have a reputation as a nice-guy. Gotta keep up appearances
- I mean… his tricks ARE amazing… so good luck being in denial of that forever…
But… I internalized it. Instead, I said I’d just pick myself up by my proverbial bootstraps and do even better. I’d come up with stuff even more amazing than before.
And I did. But no one saw it because my videos were crappy, or they just didn’t catch people’s eyes/attentions/imaginations as much as I’d hoped for.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Then I figured, “Screw it. I’ll just focus on competition.” I had a couple of okay freestyles in 2012/2013. Even a couple of decent contest-placings.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
I don’t even really want to divulge the kind of jealousy that came out when I only got my signature color way on a coupla yoyos, or when I’d think, “I’ve been on the team this long, and I don’t have a sig-series yet.”
wahhhh boo-hoo poor me
Well, I knew entitlement is ugly, and whenever I see it on other people, it reminded me of my own ugliness that I hid inside of myself… so I never honestly brought it up or discussed it with people. And instead of enjoying my talent, creative ability, or opportunity to represent CLYW to the fullest… I just felt guilt.
Guilt at not doing enough
Guilt at not being as good as player X
Guilt at not being as creative as player Y
Guilt at my jealousy of not getting as much recognition as player Z
Guilt at having entitlement/greed and not being able to get rid of it
It tarnished every compliment or good-contest placing I actually received, and so when I was doing well, I couldn’t enjoy it.
It wasn’t ever enough.
But here’s the thing… was I ever less “me” because of my achievements or lack thereof?
Were my friends that I made in yo-yoing any less likely to hang out with me?
And if they were, it would’ve only been because I tried to distance myself in order to set myself apart as somehow more creative, more competitive, more… whatever.
Deep down, I always knew the right answers. I knew that if I wasn’t having fun with it, then I wasn’t doing it right.
I knew that “title” or “achievement” doesn’t actually mean anything in the long-run – but I still chased it.
I also knew that of all the things to obsess about… a silly nerdy fun wacky creative hobby is the last thing I should be worried about.
But I still made room for it to creep up.
I had to have a complete collection…
Or I had to this… or I had to that…
I had to have… I had to be… I had to do…
But every time I said something about how yo-yoing just needs to be enjoyed for its own sake, I was really trying to convince myself – because I didn’t always believe it.
Anyhow… all that long-winded speech was for is this:
If you’re there, I feel ya. We can talk. Don’t dismiss it or get down on yourself for letting it all get a little too grandiose in your head… just talk it out.
I’m 99% sure I’m not the only person who’s ever gone too far down the rabbit hole in this regard. In fact, the primary reason I’m even bothering to type this out isn’t for my own sake… but I look around and I’m pretty sure I can see other people dealing with it too. Well, if you are, there’s no shame. Even if others try to put it on you.
If you think you want success in this little niche-hobby, that’s fine… but understand what’s important.
If you like this as a creative outlet, cool. But don’t let it eat you alive.
Anyhow, moving forward.
Hopefully this will be the last time I deal with this. Honestly, it might not be. That’s okay. I’ll deal with it as it pops up here and there.
I’m selling off/giving away most of my yoyo collection. I don’t need more than a few yoyos, and I’m incredibly privileged to be a representative for a team that keeps me well supplied (more than I’ll ever need/use properly)
I’ll still compete, I’ll still make up tricks, I’ll still make videos, and honestly, things might not look that different on the outside… but hopefully the inside is a different matter.
There’s a reason we’re called to confession. It’s not only healthy, but it gets the bad stuff out and clears way for more wholesome things to take their place.
So let’s make room for the future!