A lot of people talk about their "Team": the people in their life that advocate or serve them in one aspect or another. Most people believe that the term applies to "high society" people, but in reality we all have the opportunity to have a Team. The people who you allow to be a part of your life are just as significant to your motivation and ambition, as the people you desire to rank above.
For me, friendship is somewhat of a taboo term; it's tossed around too easily and too effortless for some to open themselves up to. However, I do believe in the power of relationships that hold value simply because they have impacted your life in some way. My Team, my "Hitta's", are the people who have offered insight, laughter, love, inspiration, realness, loyalty, and confidence to my life.
Below this post, there's a collage of many people; however, this is just a small glimpse of the people I feel have played on my team at some point in my life. I want to give homage to all of them, and the definition of team that they've helped me develop. There's a reason why a good Team matters to your livelihood...
When I was in high school, I remember riding the bus up until my junior year. I'd ride the bus to school, and sometimes catch a ride with a friend after practice. Ironically, my mom told me not to ask anyone for a ride; she told me she'd rather me wait for her to get off work and pick me up, because she didn't want me becoming dependant on anybody. I didn't listen.
I was too busy worrying about not being "cool". Most of my friends had their own car, and the ones who didn't had parents waiting for them as soon as practice let out. In my mind, waiting for my mom to pick me up late was embarrassing. It made me feel less than my peers for some reason. This particular "friend" that I asked to give me a ride home on occasion, was someone that I almost considered family. My home became her second home, and we treated her like another piece to our puzzle. I never considered any ounce of our friendship to be disingenuous or conditional; until the day it was.
I remember it like yesterday. It was a rainy Thursday, and we had spoken the night before about hanging out after practice, since I didn't have to go to work. She always gave me a ride home on Thursday's, so it had become routine. In return for the ride, I'd often pick up the check at a fast food restuarant, offer gas money, and my mom made sure she knew she was always welcome to a home cooked meal. Despite these genuine attempts to pay-it-forward, on this rainy Thursday realization was supersized.
After practice, I went to the locker-room to retrieve my backpack. I didn't notice she'd barely said two words to me in practice. I waited outside in the parking lot close to her car, like I always did on the days she gave me a ride home. When she came outside, she was walking with another "friend" of mine. I attempted to join in on their conversation, because we were all "friends", but was treated with a strange laughter; I was obviously on the outside of the joke.
I became silent and allowed them to revisit they conversation as if I wasn't there. They discussed going to see a movie that night. It became obvious that I wasn't meant to be a part of the conversation. When the conversation was over, she turned to me and said, "I can't give you a ride today. I'm going to hang out with [the other team member] tonight and I don't have time to give you a ride." I've always been pretty level headed and cool acting when I am disappointed by something, so I said, "Ok, cool", and turned to walk towards the coaches office. I called my mom to come pick me up. As my coach waited with me for her to come, I remember watching the drizzling rain and gray sky. It was more embarrassing that I was the last person to get picked-up because I got blindsided by my "friend", than to be a kid who was just waiting on her mom to get off work. My priorities became straight in that moment; I saw the circumstances for what they were, rather than what I perceived them to be.
When I got in the car with my mom, she asked me what happened and I told her. She told me that I would never ask my "friend" for a ride again, and that under no circumstance was I to give her the pleasure of knowing what she did even bothered me. Granted, I would've been ok if she apologized, remotely acknowledged it was slightly messed-up to leave me hanging without notice, or to just be upfront and say she didn't want to give me a ride anymore. Moreover, to act "brand new" and attemp to "front me out" for the acceptance of others was the thing that burned the most. She'd never broken bread with the other person, never been invited to their home, never shared a part of her life with them, but she thought she needed them on her "team". She thought their presence in her life made her better.
Two months later, I got my first car. My mom and grandma refused to allow me to depend on anyone else for transportation. They bought me a 1989 Honda Civic Coupe for Christmas; wrapped a bow around it and made me feel like I was a rich kid from Beverely Hills 90210. It was surreal. Although I never actually drove that car for a number of reasons, I realized how to recognize people who were on my Team. I convinced my mom to allow me to buy my first car from a car lot. After all, I was working, had good grades, and in extracurricular activities. When I drove the 1990 Black Geo Metro off the lot, I felt empowered. Not only had I worked to have this opportunity, I'd learned a valuable lesson in the process.
Those who come to your side in your lowest moments are the people who play for your Team. My Hitta's are the people that will step up to the plate when my batting average is in a slump. My Hitta's may or may not be people I "break bread" with or even spend a large some of my time with, but they are people that will play on my Team when I call upon them, and vice versa.
It's the little things that count. The little lessons we learn through small experiences can truly impact out lives. The "friend" that left me hanging on that rainy day, never got to add the person she went to hang-out with that day to her Team, and she lost a valuable member. When you lose sight of yourself for the acceptance of others you're likely to fall short of THEIR expectations of you; which is a terrible way to LIVE.
When drafting team members, do a thorough scouting report before you attemp to recruit. Teams fail when the sum of their parts are weaker then their opponents. Thus, if you believe you have the wrong players on your Team, release them from their contract and recruit those that share a common mindset. A different philosophy will create counterproductive progression in your life.
Life can be a jungle. You want to make sure you have beast to run with. Even if they don't live their everyday life in "beast mode" your Team members should always show-up and rise to the occasion on game day.
Surround your life with the right Hitta's.