“The big question about how people behave is whether they’ve got an Inner Scorecard or an Outer Scorecard. It helps if you can be satisfied with an Inner Scorecard.”~Ryan Holiday
FOR ME, an upside of the quarantine is the truth of this quote: the existence of the Inner and Outer Scorecards and what this actually means as we go about daily living. Because you know, NO ONE IS ACTUALLY LOOKING. They weren’t before this lockdown happened, and they won’t be after, not really, not in the way we imagine. A good rule of thumb, generally everyone is too worried about themselves and their own shit to give me or anyone else much airtime. I know this in my head and have for awhile, the idea not at all new, but forced social distance has laid bare the concept in a way that for me is profoundly visceral. It is as if my heart now gets what only my head got before. Now that no one is coming over for a playdate and I don’t concern myself over whether the sink is full of dishes. Now that I have not set foot in a store in a month and have seen no one but my neighbors when walking the dog (and wow have I met some lovely people!). Now that I basically see my children constantly (no school) and on occasion my husband (workaholic), who love me no more or less if I’m wearing makeup, if my outfit is cute, or my banter witty.
My children are present in a way they have not been since they were little; maybe different than ever, actually, because I was a mom on the perpetual go to somewhere with my kids when they were little (Zoo! Park! Museum! soak it in). Turns out that all those quality educational destinations were just part of the expensive scenery. Because we are not heading anywhere now but the front or backyard or maybe around the block with the dog, and turns out I’m their mom and I love them and they love me and we don’t actually have to do anything about it. Even if someone has neglected to take off a certain hoodie. Even if someone is crabby. Because more often than not, when we go sideways, we end up apologizing and moving forward. Coming from my family of origin, it is a relief that we usually own our mistakes (eventually!) and apologize, accepting apologies whether giving or given (because we are on both sides some of the time).
Since the yoga studio is not an option, I stream class; not to look any way, but to feel my body work. When I’m in the cocoon of me and my little family, I notice the voice I use with myself becomes kinder. The measures by which I judge myself become more genuine. Less about comparing myself to everyone else — every mom who showered or writer who just got published — and more to connecting and helping each other, including time together, maybe reading or watching a show or laughing or quiet. Aware. Invested in the conversation.
So weirdly, that has been my reality for the last 5 weeks through no real choice of my own. Foot pulled back from the gas peddle, an opportunity I have taken to look out the window before ever starting the car. Inconveniences galore, sure. Seesaw online school and the challenges therein. Forget Almond Milk on the last stock up, wait for next time; not worth it for me or anyone else to go inside the store to buy one thing. But mostly loving acceptance. Refreshing approval. On the days I got stuff done and the days I didn’t.
CATCH: When I venture back out into the world — when it is safe to do so, Mr. Abbott, but that’s another post — if left unchecked, this scorecard tendency, even through the line at Starbucks, if I am not vigilant, will flip. My Outer Scorecard will over-assert itself stealthily, I’m sure of it. “Thanks!” I will endeavor to sound genuine, bubbly, and overall satisfied with my life and contribution to society to the green smocked somebody scanning my phone for the Starbucks app who may or may not make eye contact. Same role call in Tom Thumb, pumping gas, in the carpool line, at Trader Joes. At a party or at a meeting, Outer Scorecard practically leering, if the past is illustrative. For whatever reason, my Outer Scorecard usually beats the shit out of my Inner Scorecard just by seeming so relevant when I’m in it. Maybe because it as a process remains unconscious, or has. I have not before had a vivid reminder that it could be different. But conscious choice +time+practice=habit.
So when this shit is all said and done, and our worlds are forever different, part of the setup for me will be the INNER scorecard made conscious, a confident move to the forefront. To myself, born of this experience, this is my promise. (Whatever you think of it, suck it! Kidding, kidding!:) The Outer Scorecard won’t disappear exactly; I’m just not giving it so much power, ya’ll.