I blamed my parents for not letting me live the life I wanted to live.
Of course I blamed them. It was their fault! They knew I wanted to live a different life to the one I was living, and they weren’t letting me!
I just didn’t get it. Why were they so against me wanting something different? Why were they so against me being happy?
It was so unfair. It was bullsht. Who were they to tell me what I could and couldn’t do?
It was the same as all those editors I pitched because I wanted to write for their publication. I was clearly good enough, but they kept saying no, or that a piece wasn’t quite right, or they’d just ignore me.
They’d be lucky to have me! And I can’t even get a reply? I’ve seen some of the writing you publish, and it sucks. And you won’t publish my obviously-infinitely-better piece?
It was the same as my basketball coaches. Pretty much all of them told me I was one of the best players on the team, and yet they wouldn’t play me. Well, they wouldn’t play me as much as I thought they should, considering I was one of the best players they had.
Forget that I played scared in games, and that I played much better in practice, and that this disparity must’ve been completely noticeable. Why did that matter? They told me I was one of the best players and that meant they should’ve been playing me, no matter how I performed!
No. Of course not. But that’s how I felt, even if I didn’t quite admit to anybody. Including myself.
I blamed my basketball coaches for not playing me. It was their fault, and in my mind, I was 100% correct. They were the ones who had to change – not me. They were the ones who had to realise their mistakes and to rectify them as soon as possible.
I never even considered that thinking like this got me nowhere. That it got me nothing except frustration and resent and unhappiness. That it didn’t get me the one thing I actually wanted – more minutes on the basketball court.
What would’ve happened if, instead of blaming someone else for my own problem, I took responsibility for it?
What a novel concept!
Well… I would’ve realised that I didn’t deserve to play a lot of minutes just because the coach believed I was one of the best players. I would’ve worked to understand why I was a different player in practice compared to games. I would’ve used the pain of not playing as much as I wanted to become a better player, which would’ve forced the coach to play me.
If I would’ve taken responsibility, rather than blaming other people, I probably would’ve got what I wanted.
How could I not have realised that at the time? I was young, I guess… but it seems so obvious.
It seems like a very human thing to want to look outside rather than inside. @Matt_Hearnden (Click to Tweet!)
Is it because it’s more painful to look inside? To confront realities we’ve been ignoring? To find out that we’re not who we thought we were?
Is it because it’s supposedly easier to blame others than to take responsibility?
But look at what happened when I blamed others and didn’t take responsibility: I didn’t get what I wanted.
I didn’t learn this lesson back then. I just kept blaming other people and not taking responsibility and then feeling unhappy that I didn’t have what I wanted to have.
But this brings me back to those editors who wouldn’t put me in their publication.
At first, I blamed them. It was their fault. Because obviously – and completely objectively – I was clearly a good enough writer. They just weren’t recognising that.
Do you think any of that helped me to write for their publications?
No. Of course not.
It was only when I stopped blaming them, and started taking responsibility for myself, that I worked harder than before, and became a better writer, and became much more persistent in sending things to them to publish.
It worked. How do you think you’re reading this?
This brings me to my parents not letting me live the life I wanted.
Again, I blamed them. Again, it was their fault.
Again, it didn’t get me what I wanted. All it did was get me further away.
It was only when I stopped blaming them for not letting me do what I wanted, and started taking responsibility for living the life I wanted to live, that I started moving towards what I’d daydreamed about for years.
It’s “harder” in a way to take responsibility. Because you do have to be honest with yourself. You do have to confront the fact that your life is up to you. You have to accept that if you think someone else isn’t “letting” you do something, you’re wrong.
It’s much, much harder to never get what you want, or to never get to where you want to be, or to never become who you know you can be. And that’s exactly what blaming other people will get you.
It might seem like it’s “easier” to blame other people, but I just think it’s lazy. And wrong.
And – even worse – it’s just never going to give you what you want.
Is that “easier”?
Matt Hearnden is a writer from the UK. He mostly tells stories only he can tell. He blogs twice a week at www.matthearnden.com just self-published his first book:42. Matt writes every day because he loves it and because it stops him watching Netflix. And, probably more importantly, he plays basketball and has lots of tattoos. You can find him on Twitter, IG & Quora.
Image courtesy of Ismael Nieto.