The Line Is Not Linear

(I wrote this on a six-hour train ride to Montreal for my 23rd birthday, I hope you enjoy)

*a 3-minute read*

Expectations will always be placed on you, whether you like it or not. As you navigate your life, these expectations will change depending on the period of your life you are in. Developing yourself is the antidote needed to constantly keep up with those expectations, but you have to understand from day one, this will not be linear (this may be new information for some of us).

If you didn’t know, I am here to tell you development can be patchy (like my beard in grades 10, 11, and 12). You’ll go through many phases before you start to see what you envisioned from yourself. 

The process is shaky, scary and, honestly, uncertain at times, since the time frame of your development has no end date. The uncertainty stays, and it’s uncomfortable, but it’s necessary to see yourself win – and we will be winning all of 2023 (still feels weird to say 2023 but we move).

A “Be Ready Now” Example

Social media have misconstrued the definitions of “development” and “growth” and killed the innocence of growing in your own way. There’s always a narrative to follow and if you don’t keep up with it in a straight trajectory, you may be labeled as “not good enough for the standard” or “a bust,” as some sports anchors love to throw around (Mr. Stephen A. Smith, we are talking about you).

Take Scottie Barnes for example. The reigning rookie of the year for the Toronto Raptors in the NBA has been chastised at an all-time high and I am baffled at the way some have looked at him. Peep the tweets below.

At the start of the season Barnes didn’t meet the expectations of many fans across the world, and people were aiming for his head. His shot was struggling, he had a inconsistent performances and with the injuries on them, he was expected to step up and be a key part in the Raptors success.

Trade rumours, calling him a bust, saying he’s not good enough, you name it—the media and fans alike found every way to criticize Barnes. Some people fail to understand the following circumstances regarding Scottie’s situation (this also explains some of his early struggles).

  1. He is only 21 years old (younger than me actually, which is unbelievable).
  2. This is only his second season in the NBA.
  3. Read point number two again.

Allow the guy to develop in peace. Believing he is going to be the next Draymond Green with a jumpshot is acceptable (a confusing comparison to be honest but I see the vision), and after showing flashes of greatness during last season, you must allow Barnes (or anyone) to develop into a special type of player. 

Allow the man to get his feet wet first before calling him a bust. The drop-off he had at the beginning of the year was certainly not as concerning when compared to other rookies of the year from the past, so please, everyone, let’s take three deep breaths and give Barnes some time. 

Like Scottie, especially at a young age, you are almost bound to be a victim of this hype-and-betrayal phenomenon in the modern age. You show a little bit of promise and success early on and now everyone thinks you’re the next Michael Jordan, Denzel Washington, or Drake (even though Drake is meh, but we move). 

They Do It For The Clout

Can you believe it has become a societal norm to be cussed, cursed, and criticized every day on national television? Listen, if a man was cussing me (standard abbreviation for being disrespectful to someone) three days a week for 10+ years, I would feel a certain way, especially if I don’t even know who the person talking about me is (aka Skip Bayless about LeBron James).

Honestly, since it has become so normalized to share criticism before praise, seeing genuine praise has become a rarity, and oftentimes, it comes as an afterthought, at a point when it’s too late to do much good.

It has come to a point where scolding and criticizing nowadays is done because it generates more attention therefore it will be seen more everywhere. It’s easy to say you don’t like something or someone and once the attention grows, you make it a recurring thing for clout but less about an opposing perspective trying to offer feedback.

If you fail to meet the expectations of everyone else, people condemn you CONSTANTLY without any care in the world. “Just work harder and do better” is the typical response—an easy solution to the problem. While it has some validity to it, you don’t think most people want to work harder and be better at the end of the day?

Keep It Internal

In due time.

While not all of us have our life projected to the masses every single day on social media, there are still similarities we can see between those who do and don’t. Family, friends, acquaintances, even your auntie’s mum may have an opinion about you that you care about. When you get caught in sticky situations and things start to become stagnant, all of these opinions start to weigh on you and can cloud your judgment even further.

The key to seeing yourself win is having a keen sense of self-security and knowing what to accept and what to ignore from the outside noise. Do you think a guy like LeBron James listens to people in the media scold and denounce his legacy every day for 10+ years? Resisting the outside noise will always allow you to see things clearer, and keeping things internal creates the necessary peace of mind to allow growth to come. 

You don’t have to share the dreams you have just because you want people to listen. Sometimes the people listening aren’t even worth sharing with in the first place. If they want to see you win, they will understand you are on your path and you’ll arrive at the destination in due time. 

Your development may be—scratch that—will be different from everyone else’s, and trust me, there’s growth in the patchiness (my beard went through the five stages of grief before greatness came). 

The system set in place forces you to think to you are already behind, but the truth is that evolution is a long process. The line could never be linear because all the learning you do will not happen in a straight direction. Keep this in mind while you stay on the path and work at it every day. Just ask my beard, he’ll tell you all you need to know one day soon.

On to the Next

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this article. Feel free to share with a friend and I’ll be back for more soon. Answer the question below!

What is your definition of development?

Published by michaeloka

A writer that says it how I see it. Here to bring you a different perspective to something that may have crossed your mind. I also want to introduce you to ideas you may not be familiar with and how I feel about them. Here for a long time and a good time.

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