I’d painted their picture of me before they’d even known I was there.

Sometimes, I wonder, who I am to tell you how to live your life.

“Who does this guy think he is, getting all up on this newsletter, blog thing and telling me what to do?”

To be honest, I’m not, mostly just sharing my revelations through trials and tribulations, but it does occasionally feel that way.

“Who gave you that authority, TeeJayye?”

It’s an interesting question, one I could answer a few different ways, but really, I’m not here to tell you what to do. I’m just here to make sense of all the nonsense in my head.

Over the years, golf has become my life, (that’s obvious…) but for the longest time, all I’ve wanted to do is share how my experiences on the golf course have affected my life.

So, why does it feel so grimy?

I didn’t grow up playing golf. I didn’t play as a junior or a high-level amateur. I definitely didn’t play in college and I’ve never had a job at a golf course. So who am I to share the stuff I’ve learned?

I’m an imposter. At least, that’s what the voice in my head keeps telling me.

Fortunately though, I was once brave enough to set foot on a golf course. Younger and far more foolish, I didn’t realize that “real golfers” had stigmas about everyone that surrounded them. I just wanted an interesting way to get high with my friends on Sundays.

Lucky for me, I grew up in a small town where the “real golfers” hastily completed their rounds and hit the bar long before I’d rolled out of bed.

As the addiction flourished within me, (golf, not the weed) I grew more and more aware of the prejudices of the people around me.

They weren’t concerned with race or gender, but they quipped about seemingly meaningless things, like the clothes someone wore or whether a person made small talk with them. They (for lack of a better way of saying it) talked shit about anyone and everyone, judging everything from their genes to their business decisions, and you better believe that no one was immune. Small town, remember?

They had cliques within a clique, local politics eschewing from every pore. Living there since I was ten, it was something I’d grown used to, and didn’t care enough to get involved. I kept it that way for a long time.

I could now see why so many people tried golf once and never came back. How intimidating it is to have “real golfers” contemplating your worth from across the bar. How shameful it feels to scar the grass they held with such high regard. Don’t forget about etiquette or keeping pace, and you damn sure better play the last hole well because they’ll be watching you all the way down the fairway. I can’t imagine being a woman.

I was the introverted kid who popped in the clubhouse for long enough to throw some money down on the counter and bounce right back out, but when my friends grew tired of the game, I decided I needed someone else to talk to. So, I summoned some courage and sat down for a beer after a round.

Curiously, as I began to insert myself into the discussion at the bar I learned that no one cared what number you shot out on the course. They didn’t care whether you wore a t-shirt or a polo, and they damn sure didn’t care if you chunked your tee ball on 12.

Sure, they commented on things they don’t see very often (they absolutely love berating me about the man bun) but I’m pretty sure that comes with getting drunk with the same people in the same place every day. They had their quibbles and their quabbles but it was reminiscent of siblings beating the hell out of each other while their parents turn up the radio. When you’ve all been hanging out together for 40 years, problems seem to present themselves.

None of them pretended to be an expert on anything, except ordering another drink. They didn’t have any preconceived notions, they were just trying to pass the time. Everything that I feared they saw in me was simply a projection of my own fear.

It was me who was projecting these negative feelings. It was I, that thought I wasn’t enough.

The people at that golf course didn’t know who I was. I mean, how could they? I’d never introduced myself.

Yes, I was an imposter, not because they had labeled me so, but because I had labeled me so. I’d painted their picture of me before they’d even known I was there.

I was uncomfortable in my skin because of what it looked like from the inside. I wasn’t capable of seeing what they saw on the outside.

So, no, I’m not here to tell you how to live your life. But I will tell you something I’ve learned. Let other people judge you. They’re far less harsh than you. And to be honest, you’re probably pretty damn cool.

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