The Scoreboard

Just a head’s up: I’m pretty certain this post is going to result in what Brené Brown calls a “vulnerability hangover” … which is exactly why I’m posting it. More on that later.

For now, here’s to truth.

I’ve never been one for competition.

Like that time the coach of the high school basketball team recruited me while I stood in line at the cafeteria, saying “You’re tall, and you can palm the ball with those hands. Ever thought about playing for the team?” I had spent my childhood playing basketball in my driveway, so I agreed to give it a shot. But as soon as I had to start pushing other girls around—as soon as I had to start trying to beat them—I was done. I never made it to the second game.

But when it comes to my *heart*, competition takes a front-row seat.

Like that time I let two friends go because I realized that I was always the one chasing them down. As I dialed their numbers one day, it hit me that the calls always came from my phone, the invitations always came from my mouth, and the effort always rested on my shoulders. As soon as I became aware of that burden—that I was the only one carrying it—I was done. I never reached out to them again.

But it doesn’t quite make sense…

I won’t compete in sports, but I will when it comes to relationships?

The friend that doesn’t call you back.

The significant other that doesn’t plan your next romantic night out.

The colleague that’s never available when *you* need a hand.

The acquaintance that never reaches out for a second coffee date. You wonder, “Didn’t the first one go so well?”

The high school buddy that doesn’t reach out when you stop taking the reins in your text-message-based friendship.

All the people who don’t put in the effort like you do. Because, as much as you’d like to say you’re not, you’re keeping score.

You’re always keeping score.

For years, I’ve kept score for all my relationships.

Who called who last?
How many times has she cancelled a lunch date?
When was the last time he texted me first?
Remember what she said during our last conversation?

Every encounter, every move, every intention is weighed and evaluated against my own. It’s exhausting. I wall myself off from people—and people are what matter.

In the words of Danielle LaPorte:

“I am a planet of love with a hair-trigger drawbridge that can close without much warning.”

Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?

Sure, I’ve been burned before. So have you. It stung, and sometimes it still does. A faint memory floats up from the past and—zap!—there goes my stomach flip-flopping with pain again.

But that’s not always the case.

For the first time ever, I’m experiencing unconditional love. After the arrival of a little guy who only poops in a clean diaper and whimpers loud enough to wake the entire house for an hour before actually waking up, our scorecard is as lopsided as it gets—if taken literally. But nothing feels further from the truth.

Because what happens on paper—the score, if you will—doesn’t always represent how we feel. And the best relationships I can think of are the ones where the score isn’t even part of the equation.

With the people who matter, I never keep score.

Do you?

Because my heart balloons when it encounters love but deflates more quickly when it’s touched by competition.

No matter the score, I’ll stick with what makes my heart grow.

That’s why I’m letting go of all the competition in my heart—including the people who inspire it.

According to Rabbi Alan Lew, there are two types of fear in biblical Hebrew:

  1. Pachad: a projected or imagined fear. Or that fear you have that everyone will laugh at you or reject you once you step into the cafeteria.
  2. Yirah:  a fear that overcomes us when we experience sacred awe. Or that fear you have when you uncover something amazing about yourself and feel more energetic than ever.

When I set out to write this post, I thought I was suffering from parchad. To be honest, I had meant to post it days ago, but I chickened out at the last minute and put it aside for a few more days. I kept thinking, “Is this post too personal? Is this too *bitchy* of me? Will anyone even care?” 

But then I realized that it’s not parchad at all—it’s yirah.

My fear isn’t what people will think when they read this. My fear is about how I feel in letting go of all the pettiness that comes along with keeping score—and in letting go of all the relationships that inspire that scoreboard mentality in my heart.

Because the good kind of fear is the kind we can turn into excitement.

What about you? I’d love to hear from you:

How do you approach competition in your life?
Have you ever kept the score in your relationships?
When you feel your heart tighten with comparison, what do you do?

Could I be the only one having these funky thoughts? Let me know if I’m not, yeah? :-]

Sending you love from my couch in Managua,

— Marcella

PS. It’s been awesome connecting with some of you on Instagram. For those of you who haven’t yet, come hang with me and my funky photos.  :-]

photo credit: swafo