Jason Collins, and why storytellers succeed by breaking routine

He has been analyzed and over-analyzed.

In the past two weeks, a wide swath of writers, bloggers, broadcasters, and pundits have dissected the words of Jason Collins, who became the first American active male pro athlete to come out as gay.

But very few of them have addressed the paragraph that stood out most to me.

It is perhaps an afterthought in light of Collins’ many revelations in hisĀ Sports Illustrated article, but early on the NBA center talks about what made him decide to come out now.

Why am I coming out now? Well, I started thinking about this in 2011 during the NBA player lockout. I’m a creature of routine. When the regular season ends I immediately dedicate myself to getting game ready for the opener of the next campaign in the fall. But the lockout wreaked havoc on my habits and forced me to confront who I really am and what I really want. With the season delayed, I trained and worked out. But I lacked the distraction that basketball had always provided.

Think about that for a second. Collins essentially put off making a major life decision because he became stuck in a routine.

He is, of course, not the only one. How many times in our lives do we put off potentially troubling decisions because we do not want to break our everyday patterns? After all, thinking critically about oneself is a difficult task; it takes effort, humility, and the ability to admit that our current routines may not always be the correct ones.

We all fall prey to this line of thinking.

And that is why we all should take a cue from Collins.