Just Be Yourself

by cam smith

“Just keep swinging, Royce, let the bat find the ball,” Royce Morton’s father screamed from the side as he watched his son swing and miss the ball every time.  They were at the batting cages and he was coaching his sons to help them fix their game.  Next to Royce, his twin brother Kris was hitting the ball every time. Kris was the sports champion of the family.  He excelled at everything he put his mind to, especially the sports.  This made things very hard on Royce because his father would often put pressure on him and get frustrated when he could not perform at the same level as his twin brother.  Every year, since they were old enough to walk, his dad had put his sons into the same sport and every year Kris had excelled and Royce had failed.  When they got to high school and they had to try out, Kris always made the varsity team, and Royce was lucky if he could find himself on Junior Varsity.  Kris’s best sport was football. He would most likely get a scholarship.  This year, their senior year, they were going out for baseball also.  Or at least they were again.  Kris had made the team last year and Royce had failed.  However, this year it seemed that their father was determined to get Royce on the team.  Royce did like sports, but he just wasn’t good at them.  Especially baseball.  He was more of a “watcher” and less of a “player”.  The only sport he had ever come close to excelling at was basketball.  Of course he came off the bench when his brother had always been a starter, but he usually snuck in a quiet five to eight assists in a game and a few points that were eclipsed by Kris’s twenty some points a game.  Even at academics, Kris excelled over Royce.  It just felt like Royce wasn’t good at anything.

“I wish I could just be better than Kris at just ONE thing, at least,” he told his mother one night.  He had failed to make the baseball team again that day, obviously, and Kris had.

“Don’t worry,” his mother told him, “I always tell you, your grandpa wasn’t good at sports either.  This sports stuff, it comes from your dad’s side.  You don’t have to be good at them.  Just find something that you like to do and enjoy doing it.  That’s what is important.”

“I like to watch sports.  I really do.  It’s not like I hate sports.”  Royce answered.

“So watch sports.”  She said as if it was a real job.  He mulled over this for a minute.  He really truly was passionate about sports.  And it wasn’t a rule that in order to like sports, you had to be good at them, he thought. Some of the best conversations Royce had had were about sports.  English was his best subject in high school and he worked on the school’s newspaper.  His father had never so much as read his sports articles, while Kris and his mother had been avid followers and supporters.

“You know what, Mom?  I’m going to be a sports journalist.  You know how much I love writing about sports.”  He told her the next morning at breakfast.

“Go for it, honey!  I’ll be right there to cheer you all the way.”  She smiled, happy that he had found something he loved.  He told his father he was done with trying sports and had no wish to do so in college the coming fall.  Naturally, this upset his father who accused him of not applying himself.

“I’m never going to be Kris, Dad.”  Royce told him firmly.  “I have been trying to be him for years just to impress you and I don’t want to be him anymore.  Next year, I’m majoring in sports journalism.  And if you would even pick up ONE of my sports articles you would know how good of a writer I am,” he said and stormed out of the room.  Two weeks later his father came to him and told him his mother had given him his articles to read.  He had been impressed and was proud of Royce for the first time in his life.  He was also proud that Royce stood up to him and had chosen to be who he wanted to be.  After that day, Royce’s father had supported him in his sports writing.  That autumn, Royce and Kris had gotten into the same university with Kris receiving a full ride football scholarship and majoring in anthropology and Royce majoring in sports journalism.  For the first time in his life, Royce felt like he was allowed to be himself and it made him a better person.  His father, brother, and mother continued to be supportive.  Years later, Royce went on to be a very successful sports writer and analyst who appeared several times on TV.  Many times he even wrote about or commented on his own twin brother Kris, now an NFL football player and starter.  He never felt happier in his life being himself.  He wished he could’ve started sooner.

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