Hey everybody. Although it would not always have been the case, I am confident you will enjoy this column (foreshadowing).
Behind the door of my sister’s bedroom, hiding. That is where you can find me in the earliest Rinear Family home videos. Memories of the actual experience are fuzzy, but I distinctly remember watching the video. If you would like to see the video, hit me up and I am sure we can agree on a moderately expensive price.
This was obviously a long time ago. For reference, said home video was shot using a consumer camera the size of a coffee maker. Also, these were the cameras for which the user had the pleasure of inserting the entire Video Home System (VHS) tape into the camera itself. The earlier version of the SD card, the tapes were the size of a 200-300 page novel (hardback). The camera was the Walkman of video equipment.
Before I take you further down the rabbit hole of antiquated consumer products that I will uncontrollably have to overexplain for comedic relief, I digress.
Back to the grainy footage of myself hiding, which, to this day, I still so vividly remember. I was an extremely shy child. The reason this one moment from a home video resonates so long after the fact is that it accurately depicted my shyness, my self-consciousness, my timidity and the early showings of what would become a long-standing lack of self-confidence.
Don’t worry, I can hear you:
Maybe You: “This isn’t funny, I thought this series was supposed to be funny.”
Maybe Me (depending on if it is actually you and not still just maybe you):
“I only have one question. No. 1, how dare you?” (credit Kelly Kapoor in “The Office,” season 4, episode 11).
See, that was kind of funny right? If you agree, just don’t say anything, or just remain within the author-reader relationship that would make it physically impossible for me to actually know if you laughed or not (unless I were sitting there with you as you read, which, objectively, would be super creepy).
This series will include plenty of humor. If you read my first column you know I cannot really control it. I am a goofball, through and through. But as I have thought more about where I want this column series to travel, and after the amazing feedback I received following the first column, I decided I also want to try and help other people.
The best way I know how to do that is by sharing my own experiences. Honestly discussing some of the hurdles I’ve faced, lessons I’ve learned, improvements I’ve made and bars I’ve been “86-ed” from is a good place to start (for starters, Dante’s in Seattle’s University District [it wasn’t my fault, I swear], and the Showbox concert venue in downtown Seattle).
Back to self-confidence and all the really fun internalized mental battles I waged (on myself). I assume it started before the “hide behind the door” home video, but for the sake of simplicity and piggybacking on something I already talked about, that is where it started.
For me, directly tied to this lack of self-confidence, tighter than all the fancy knots I 50 percent know how to tie (which means zero percent), were extreme non-confrontationalism (made it up, but it should be a word) and an almost debilitating fear of getting in trouble.
“Goodie two shoes” was an insult that cut deep for my younger self. It was a bipartisan battle between my fear of getting in trouble and my fear of getting made fun of for being a “goodie good.” It was like those games between two teams you despise, not wanting either to win. Ultimately, a lot of this ties back to what I discussed in the first column: a desperate strive to always be comfortable or, at a minimum, never be uncomfortable.
I remember being fully aware I was shy. I remember not wanting to be shy. I remember comparing myself to other kids, more “outgoing” kids, from an early age. I remember my shyness coming across to others as me being kind of a dick who chose not to interact with people at times.
The cruel irony of that is almost funny. A shy kid, who struggled to talk to people, but desperately wanted them to like him, being perceived as a snobby dick who thought he was too good for them. But the kid could not explain the discrepancy because, you know, he was too shy (and did not realize that perception of him until later). Rinse, repeat. If that doesn’t shine a bright light on the one-billion-piece jigsaw puzzle that is the human brain, I don’t know what does.
That pattern of inhibited self-consciousness continued into and became worse in high school. The “goodie two shoes” dynamic was even more ruthless as a teenager. Peer pressure is absolutely real. I was not a bully but in some cases I treated a few other kids in a way that I am now ashamed of. It can literally haunt my thoughts.
I remember it being completely uncomfortable behavior at the time, which seems counterintuitive based on my earlier points, but the “valuing myself based on my perception of what ‘cooler’ kids thought of me” seemed insurmountable. It’s not an excuse, it’s just the truth. It’s how I felt back then.
I didn’t know how to talk to girls, I didn’t know how to talk to anyone I had proclaimed “cooler” than me (by my own invention). I did not get picked on or bullied, I had friends, I got straight A’s and I played and was very good at sports, so, outwardly I may have seemed well adjusted. But, internally, high school was a very trying experience.
High school is also when I found alcohol. Not in the sense of “hey, has anyone seen alcohol lately, oh wait, never mind, I found it.” It was more that I found what I thought was a solution to my mental anguish. My first drink was New Year’s Eve of 1997. Kiwi-Strawberry Snapple mixed with stolen Monarch Vodka (“Started from the bottom now we here”). I was a sly cat. Just make a tiny cut in the label and fill with water to that line, they’ll never know.
That first inebriated night. The first time I probably ever felt confident, uninhibited,and not shy. It was just a few of us in an empty house and I kind of made an ass of myself, which was the typical end result of every night I was convinced would be the “most epic night of my life” (picture snow angels on a kitchen floor). That relief from my own self-consciousness was exhilarating but also a massive invisible problem – a quick fix. It is no surprise to me now that my life went down a road of addiction.
Things got worse in college. One aspect of my confidence issues was always a fear (and often-times assumption) of other people thinking I wasn’t intelligent. I went to a small liberal arts college, and from minute one, that part of my internal vicious cycle was in full swing because I was around a lot of smart people who, the way my brain operated, were automatically smarter than me from the get-go.
It stayed that way for those four years of college and beyond. It can be a lonely existence when you are never truly comfortable or confident, even when you’re with your closest friends. The self-prescribed anti-self-conscious “medication” got worse as well. When I somehow graduated, I was beyond exhausted and had no clue what was next. My 20’s are basically a haze in a lot of ways. I am just grateful I did not end up in jail or worse, on the real.
Drew Lock Dancing
After the struggles mentioned throughout the last few paragraphs, I greatly appreciate if you are still with me. Believe me, this is not comfortable to put on paper, as I have to at least briefly relive those past memories. But it is extremely important. Holding onto shame and guilt, whether it is a conscious effort or the product of years of suppression, is like a locked door with no key.
All your hopes and dreams (Point B) are not necessarily waiting right on the other side of the door, but the other side of that door can be the location of Point A.
I am going to fast forward now, which let me tell you, is a lot easier now than it was with VHS tapes (if you know, you know). My improvements with self-confidence and self-worth really kick-started when I got clean. As of this writing, I am four years and almost three months clean, and I haven’t had a drink in almost 13 years. This is not bragging. This is not judging. My personal story includes total abstinence from drugs and alcohol. That is the way it has to be for me. Since I got here I have said and will always say, “you do you, if you ever want to talk about this stuff, I got you.”
Currently, my self-confidence is stronger than any time I can remember. It’s a relative thing of course. I’m not out here “Drew Lock Dancing.” Proof of this to me is a decision I made yesterday. When I tweet, write, comment, etc. I am no longer going to begin anything with a qualifier.
“I’m new here but…” “Other people probably say it better, but…”
These are just rental protection plans. These are pre-explanations, starting from a place of assuming what I am going to divulge isn’t good enough, and my knee-jerk self-defense mechanism for the whole “not seeming stupid” fear (see paragraph on college).
It does not mean that fear is 100 percent gone. As with most of these internal struggles, it will likely never be completely gone. But, through repetition, acceptance that I am not and never will be perfect, the support of others and getting older in years, I am finding myself more confident in what I say, caring less about what others think and trusting my instincts. It is a progressive improvement, just as the original shyness and self-consciousness were progressive in the other direction. What I mean by that is small instances of confidence build on each other.
For me, it wasn’t a tangible moment of “oh sweet, I am confident now.” That is how I envisioned it playing out when I was younger, which made it all the more difficult to get there or even start trying. It is a daily progression. It is a daily process. It is something to be worked on and improved.
Just remember, while our environments, upbringings and experiences obviously play a part in shaping who we are, shaping our personalities and our character flaws, one of the biggest obstacles we face with mental health issues is our own selves. “I am my own worst critic” is a giant turd of a cliché for good reason. If you take anything from these words, let it be this: Start by just giving yourself a break. So much of my struggle has been self-inflicted, and it just doesn’t need to be that way.
I realize this has been another brutally honest column with me sharing many personal details and stories. I felt alone, even in a crowd of people, for many years. One thing that really helped me was discovering I was not alone, through others sharing their “experience, strength and hope” to where I realized I was not unique in my madness. I am trying to pay that forward. If even one person can take something from what I write and use it to feel better about themselves or apply it to their situation for improvement, I am over the moon.
One of my favorite young hip-hop artists out there, AK, in his song “Let Loose” drops the following bars:
“Sometimes we forget the power we possess/ Rely on everything but ourselves to reach success/That’s where shit goes down, the mirror’s our biggest threat/ But at the same time our strongest weapon if we feed the clip.”
Personally, I choose not to glorify, joke about or really even talk about guns, but the metaphorical use of what the hip-hop world calls a “gun bar” in this case is powerful and relevant.
The past is the past, it no longer exists. Love or learn to love yourself unconditionally, regardless of anything. Feed the clip.
And now, “The Mundie Awards.”
THE NON-CONFRONTATIONALISM AWARD
Nick Chubb (RB, Cleveland Browns)
Honorable Mention: Jeff Wilson Jr. (RB, San Francisco 49ers)
My non-confrontationalism (request submitted to be added to the dictionary) materialized in football as well. I played football until my sophomore year of high school. Most often I played wide receiver. My ideal football situation was running a seam or post route, outrunning the defense, and never getting tackled. So yeah, football was not for me.
Nick Chubb is the recipient of the first-ever Non-Confrontationalism Award and here’s why: I was doing my daily Pro-Football-Reference surfing because I am a huge nerd and found a few interesting statistical categories that I think are appropriate for this award:
- Yards before contact (YBC) per attempt (YBC/Att).
- Attempts per broken tackle (Att/Br)
- Yards after contact (YAC) per attempt (YAC/Att)
As with my unrealistic football-playing expectations, these stats when combined, are about not being tackled. It is quite possibly the running back equivalent of non-confrontationalism. I looked only at 2020 and looked at the top 20 running backs in each category. It is interesting to see who is on one list but not the other two, or on two lists but not all three. More on that in a moment.
I kept the scoring formula simple. For the players on all three top 20 lists, I averaged their three rankings to determine a score, which I am calling the “NCism Score,” because it is an abbreviation of Non-Confrontationalism and because it looks the part in an advanced analytics column.
Chubb came out on top with an NCism score of 7.0. Here are the only five running backs who were top 20 in all three categories, and their NCism scores:
This is where the honorable mention comes from. The top four are perennial round one running backs in fantasy football. After that, Wilson Jr. is the only other running back who made the list. I don’t care about context or really anything else, and I know about the injury voodoo doll some petty anti-49er seemed to have secretly stashed somewhere (especially for running backs), but I would love to see this guy get a full workload on a consistent basis.
The other variation of this that I found interesting was taking YAC/Att out of the equation and seeing who made the cut (top 20). If you only look at YBC/Att and Att/Br, there are seven running backs on the list:
- Damien Harris (7.5)
- Chubb (7.5)
- Antonio Gibson (8.0)
- Kamara (8.0)
- Cook (10.0)
- Henry (14.0)
- Wilson Jr. (17.5)
I realize in this format, Harris and Chubb are tied for first. Putting Harris at No. 1 provides the subtle shock factor I am going for here, and Microsoft Word automatically inserts numbers when making lists and I really didn’t feel like doing that work.
THE OVERCONFIDENCE AWARD
Scotty Miller (WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Look, I love me some moxie, obviously, I love me some confidence (the theme of the article by the way), and betting on oneself. But in my opinion, Scotty Miller was a little too big for his britches (I’m old) in claiming he was faster than Tyreek Hill.
Miller was on “The Dan Patrick Show” prior to the Super Bowl and was asked who would win in a foot race, he or Hill. To paraphrase, Miller’s answer was himself and that he would take himself over anyone. Again, I love the swagger and I love confidence and don’t get me wrong Miller is a burner, one of the faster players in the NFL.
Unfortunately, neither Miller nor Hill participated in their respective year’s NFL combines. And based on what I see on Twitter, without that combine 40-yard dash time to overanalyze and overreact to, there is no possible way to reach any sort of conclusion here. All stopwatches and radar guns are apparently locked in a special case and antiquatedly transported to the NFL Combine each year like electoral college votes. Luckily my brief snarky rant is not true, and while we cannot take both players back in time, we do have another option, perhaps an even more accurate representation of actual game speed option.
According to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Hill clocked the fifth-fastest game speed in the NFL in 2020 at 21.91 miles per hour (mph) on a 44-yard receiving touchdown. Miller’s fastest recorded speed came in the playoffs at 20.64 mph, on the 39-yard TD when Kevin King of the Green Bay Packers became very non-confrontational at the worst possible time.
But wait, there’s more. Each player did run a recorded 40-yard dash at their respective college’s pro days. Hill, on the West Alabama campus, recorded a 4.29 (I even burned my fingers on the keyboard typing that). Miller, on the Bowling Green campus, recorded a 4.36.
Obviously, a head-to-head foot race would settle the debate officially, but this isn’t high school and that is not happening. Hill is faster than Miller.
Two fun facts:
- I already randomly covered who clocked the top two fastest speeds in the NFL in 2020 in the last column (Raheem Mostert), but do you know who is third on the list (this one surprised me a bit)? None other than Kenyan Drake of the Arizona Cardinals, whose top speed was 22.11 mph on that last-second 69-yard TD run against the Cowboys in Week 6 (which my brother called seconds before the play and that also won both his and my fantasy matchups for us that week).
- I attended a baseball camp at Stanford University in high school. In baseball, it is the 60-yard dash. I clocked the fastest 60 time of the camp, to where the dude with the stopwatch just kind of shrugged and threw the stopwatch to the head coach – I assume because it was surprising. I am still patiently waiting for their call (speed isn’t everything).
THE UNSUNG HEROES AWARD
All-NFL Medical Personnel
The 2020 NFL season happened. We all saw it happen. No pre-season, zero to very few fans in stadiums. Some teams did have outbreaks, and the debate whether some games should have been canceled is a valid debate. But that is not what this award is about. All of us who love football (and those like me who are obsessed with fantasy football) experienced 17 regular season weeks, playoffs and the ending everyone was hoping for: Tom Brady, drunk, celebrating with another ring on a boat in Tampa Bay.
This award goes to the medical staff of each team, who expended every effort to keep players, coaches and themselves healthy. Last year during the offseason, when COVID-19 was in its infancy, the NFL Physicians Society suspended football-related visits.
Some team physicians and doctors, including John Tabacco (Washington Football Team) and Anthony Sagliembeni (San Francisco 49ers) took that opportunity to help fight on the front lines in their respective home cities (courtesy of “Sports Illustrated NFL” April 10, 2020).
This link takes you to the medical staff for each NFL team. I encourage you to visit the page, look at the names and give some silent respect to these people.
Writing new and different editions of “The Mundies” will be a lot of fun, but I’d love some help. If you have ideas, hit me up, and I’ll include a shout-out for any suggestions used.
And as always, find me on Twitter, talking fantasy football, joking around, posting GIFs and lending my support where it’s needed @MunderDifflinFF.