October 14, 2019

My Life as the Black Sheep

Lots of people have a “thing.” Art, music, sports, something that makes them tick and keeps them going day after day. For the rest of my family, that thing is basketball. For me, it’s not. It took years of trying to make it so, playing year-round and forsaking basically any other hobbies, until I finally came to terms with it and went off to do my own thing.

I remember trying to get up the courage to tell my parents I wanted to quit club basketball, finally sitting down and crying so hard I could barely choke the words out. I was so convinced that they would be mad, or worse, disappointed. I don’t think I could’ve been more surprised when they answered with a simple “okay.” Of course, they were my parents. They knew me and could tell my heart wasn’t in it, so when I said I wanted out, they weren’t exactly shocked. That was my freshman year of high school. In my newfound free time after my decision, I became involved in speech, theater, writing, broadcasting, and more, finally finding not just one, but several niches that I fit into so much better than basketball. I still played, of course, but it wasn’t my entire life.

“Girl finds hobby” doesn’t exactly seem like a great basis for an article, I know. But the point I’m making isn’t about me. After I quit playing travel basketball, a huge chunk of the time I spent with my family was up in the air. We used to have hours in the car, gym, all of that to hang out and bond. Suddenly, that was gone, and I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to replicate the warmth that I felt running down the court knowing my family was sitting in the stands watching. As I found new ways to spend my time, my family found new ways to support me and help me along.

I know it took a lot of learning and adjustment for them, going from yelling in the stands to sitting quietly in a theater or trying to figure out what the heck it means when you put an “e” in front of sports (I had a stint as a commentator and later player for ISU’s new League of Legends team). It’s one thing to go through the motions of just congratulating and encouraging me, but they took the time to actually understand what it was that I was doing and how best to support me.

Now my brother is having the experience of his life with Iowa State basketball. Instead of feeling jealous, I relate to how amazing it is to have the support of the ones you love while you do what you love. I’ve had years of tweets, posts, conversations where I’ve been talked up like I’m the next best thing at whatever I’m doing at the time. Heck, I still get that now as I go back to school to make my passion into a career, and I hear from my parents about how they’re building me a client base in anticipation of me coming back to Ames.

Ted Flint | The Tailgate Society

Sibling rivalry is common, but I just can’t relate. I’m what could have easily been a textbook black sheep by going off in such a different direction to the rest of my family. They’re awesome, though, so we all learned to get along and support each other. Because of that, they can do things like call me when I started school on March 20. Then I can make the trip Friday to watch the men on tv with my family and attend the women’s game on Saturday. It’s all about balance, and, thanks to them, there’s room for all of us to succeed.

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Jamie Steyer 8 Articles
Recent Iowa State graduate, current Iowa master's student, eternal artist, writer, and photographer.

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