As I waited for my lunch order, he walked in.
Immediately uncomfortable, I looked away, hoping he wouldn’t see me.
Earlier this summer he was the umpire for our work picnic kickball tournament. My team was getting slaughtered when a dude from the other team kicked a ball that was clearly foul. Everyone knew it, so we all stopped. Since he didn’t say it was foul, the kicker kept running. All the way home. Everyone thought it was a joke. A few people questioned what was happening.
And then I freaked out.
I didn’t curse him out, but I’m not proud of how I acted. Pretty sure I said something like, “Way to live up to the stereotype of umpires being blind,” and I know at one point I said, “Congratulations on making this NOT FUN.” I went on and on because he kept smiling, which just made me angrier. And it’s not like it mattered; we were getting killed. It’s just that the call was so obviously wrong and everyone knew it and I hate when things are unfair.
After I calmed down, I apologized to him on the field. Later on, I saw him and apologized again. He said, “Honestly, I wasn’t even looking. I just had to make a call, so I did.” WHAT?? You could have said you didn’t see it! It’s a stinkin’ WORK PICNIC. Breathe, Ryan…breathe. Anyway, I truly did feel bad, but you know what else I thought? I don’t want to be known as “that one-handed hot-head.” People already have an easy enough time remembering me because of my physical difference; I’d rather they didn’t add “jerk” to the mix.
What’s interesting is that this came up when I got my license plate, too. “Now I have to be a good, even-tempered driver and I can’t go anywhere I shouldn’t be because my license plate will give me away,” I thought. I have higher standards. I’m a pastor with one hand who has a license plate that says “1HANDED.” Oh, the pressure!
Let’s be honest, though; it shouldn’t take those things to keep me in line. Sure, it’s true, I might be easier to recognize and remember than most, but that shouldn’t be my motivation to be a good person. To reign in my temper. To not go to places I shouldn’t be. To be a safe and conscientious driver. We should all be trying our best to live lives that are honest and good and helpful to others, regardless of our occupation or limb situation, right? Sometimes I get caught-up in the pressure I put on myself because of my differences and, in my opinion, that’s a recipe for disaster.
Those of us with limb differences know we stick out. And trust me, we feel the eyes on us. It can be difficult and seem unfair at times. The truth of the matter, though, is that most of us put this pressure on ourselves. We have the desire to exceed expectations, even when those around us might not even have the expectations we think they do. And that’s not your fault, fully-limbed people. That’s our bad.
Maybe you do the same thing. You imagine all of these expectations on you and then, feeling the pressure, you crumble and feel like a failure for not living-up to them. My advice is this: Expectations, schmexpectations. Forget ’em. Stop trying to live-up to what you perceive to be other peoples’ expectations and live according to what you know to be true and right. Will you fail sometimes? Sure. Can you get back up and press forward? Absolutely.
Go get ’em, tiger.
Oh, and if you ever ref a sporting event I’m involved in, do not miss a call.
I have a ways to go.