There’s no “I” in team!

In a previous post, I wrote about the problem I have with certain choices, namely, ones that pose a question about my desire. I find it difficult to make a choice when someone asks me what I want, so I often let someone else choose. Maybe it’s an issue of confidence, or responsibility — I don’t know yet.

But, today, I made a connection between this fact with another fact about myself — that I’m bad at team sports. I’m not athletic at all, but I like some sports, such as hiking, shooting, badminton — but I hate, and am terrible at, sports like rugby and football. I never asked myself why this is the case, but now that I know how I respond to choices, I think I’ve found an explanation.

In football, whenever I was in possession of the ball, I became overwhelmed with confusion, because I didn’t know what I should do, and with fear, because all I could think of was the disappointed looks I would see in the other team members if (or when) I screw up. In a sports like football, there’s no time to think, or wait for someone else to tell you what to do, when the ball is in your possession — because two seconds later, the ball is taken away from you and the opportunity is lost. This means that you have to make quick decisions, but this is exactly what I’m bad at!

So, say I have the ball. I’m confronted with a decision — should I pass, kick, or dribble? This creates a lot of anxiety within me, so I become hesitant. In this moment of hesitation, the ball might be taken away, in which case I feel even more anxiety, in fear of the other’s disappointment; or I might make a decision, but due to my confusion, I might botch the pass, the kick, or the dribble, in which case I still end up with more anxiety, in fear of the other’s disappointment. The hesitation I experience when confronted with a choice makes me a bad player, while the fear and anxiety make me feel horrible. So I hate football. It’s a vicious cycle…

I don’t want to be the one whose decision and desire is what others depend on. I want my desire to disappear, to be hidden under the desire of others. But on the field, the spotlight is on you!

I find it difficult to assume the “I” and make decisions on my own, decisions grounded in my desire.

There is no “I” in team — true, but that’s precisely the problem!


What is it that awaits me?

The future is an opening — but an opening to what? If someone had asked me that last year, I would have said — the abyss. The idea of an absolute contingency, of waiting upon an as yet indeterminate event, would have only elicited in me a sense of fear. I would have construed it as an uncertainty — and I hate uncertainties. Uncertainty makes me feel afraid, and makes me withdraw into a corner. Once I start thinking about the possible outcomes, what I see are only risks, pitfalls, failures. The prospect of not having any control over what will unfold is frightening.

But as I’ve come to think about where my analysis might be heading — what awaits me — curiously, I’m not so overwhelmed with fear any more. Of course, the future is uncertain, and I might come off worse than I am now. But somehow, I see now a space for improvement and the thought that I might have better relationships, be no longer alone, and other positive ideas now colour what I see as the future. The opening now seems not one into the abyss, but one into infinite possibility.

I don’t have to see the future as something that has control over me, that it is an engulfing darkness, from which I have flee, find shelter. Instead, I can control the future, use its power of possibility to construct a path, one on which I can walk with confidence. I can choose to listen to my desire, than accommodate the desire of others.

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Language and identity

The other day, I read Derrida’s last interview. I realised how much I share with Derrida, in the sense of being stuck between identities — he was of Arabic origin, and a Jew, but spoke French, his only language, but a language that was not his own.

I am of Korean origin, but was born to third-generation immigrants in Japan, then at the age of eight, I started studying in England. I left Japan because I didn’t like being treated as a foreigner, which meant being bullied at school, on account of me having a Korean name, despite having been born in the same country as them, brought up in the same environment, speaking the same language, etc.

But that was not enough.

This name, something which was given to me without choice, was what defined me, who I was, and to which I was reduced. Like a curse, it was something that was imposed from outside and which I could not rid or distance myself from, at least not on my own. I have a Korean passport, despite having never lived there and having only visited Korea a few times. I don’t identify at all with Korean culture — what I wanted then was to be identified with the Japanese, to belong to them.

But they would not have me.

All because of a name.

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