A few months ago, I had a friend—well someone who I’d considered a relatively good friend since college—tell me the only reason I was successful in basketball was because of my coach, Jim Foster, and that I would never amount to anything without the “Vanderbilt machine” behind me. Pretty hurtful words on their own, and even worse when they came after he tried me and discovered I wouldn’t sleep with him. Really?
At first I had to ask myself if there was anything I had done to lead him on, or allow him to believe we would get together at some point. I couldn’t think of anything. After clearing my conscience, I wish I could say I let it go, but I didn’t. It was shortly after I had gotten cut from the Atlanta Dream, I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do, and so his words came at the perfect time to make me contemplate the validity of them.
When I talk to young women, I always talk about positive self-talk, and this was an ideal opportunity to practice what I preach. I immediately reminded myself that yes, I did have a good coach, but he had not scored a single one of my 2,604 points in college, nor was his name on any of my three All-American honors. Vanderbilt University had not been the one drafted second overall in the WNBA draft; that was me.
After I mentally refuted his claims against me, I laughed. I laughed because only a childish and weak person lashes out at someone they pretend to care about because of their ego being wounded. I didn’t get mad at him at all. I calmly told him I was happy with the standards I lived my life by, thanked him for everything he’d done to help me over the years, and told him to erase my number. I haven’t talked to him since. I did keep his number though, for the specific purpose of sending him a nice, polite text message when I become successful without basketball, without Vanderbilt, and because of those standards he obviously had a problem with.
More recently (yesterday actually), I got called some very awful things—so rude I will not repeat them—by a woman that wishes she had what I have, and was what I am and what I stand for. It actually amused me to get proof of her dissatisfaction with her own circumstance. Because after all, even if the things she said about me were true (which they're not), a classy woman who was happy with her own life would never have reason to think them, or more importantly, motivation to say them.
It also shows me how far I’ve come in my own confidence level, being that your first two instincts when confronted with ignorance are to lash out in defense, or begin to question yourself. I did neither—although I do have to admit if she had the confidence to say it to my face, I'm not sure I could say that (I'd like to think so though...but I digress). My immediate response was pity. I felt pity for her and her feelings of inadequacy that would make her insult someone she doesn't even know in such a rude and potentially hurtful way. And I was surprisingly satisfied that someone I'm so indifferent about could feel such strong feelings for me. Because the opposite of love is not hate, which she clearly feels towards me. It's the indifference I feel towards her.
I didn't write this to get sympathy responses of, "you can do it," "you're really beautiful," or any other encouragement. I wrote it just to say that no matter what standard of integrity you uphold, how intelligent and/or attractive you are, or how you treat people with the highest respect, there will always be those that see you in a negative way. I spent too much of my life worrying about pissing people off, and now that I no longer care, I'm free of all obligations to those I never really valued anyway, and who don’t value me. It's a beautiful feeling, and I thank God for giving me the strength to give people respect they don’t earn but still deserve as His children.
I hate the term haters, but that doesn’t keep them from existing.