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How being closeted drove me to obsess over my career at a young age

It’s easy to avoid thinking introspectively about yourself when you’re always thinking about your career.

Alex Reimer interviewing former Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar in 2005.

I didn’t spend much time thinking about my sexuality until I went to college. Growing up, I was too worried about fitting in, and besides, I had a career to pursue. Without any romantic interests keeping me busy with late-night texting — this was before FaceTime, kids — I was free to stay up until the wee hours of the morning until the last pitch was thrown in that classic late-May duel between the Red Sox and Mariners out on the West Coast.

Then it was off to my parents’ basement, where I could quietly record my Red Sox podcast and ensure it was up to date with the latest news and information. My devout listeners, such as my father and other assorted blood relatives, demanded it.

This was not the work of a martyr, but rather somebody who was afraid to think introspectively about himself. It’s easy to stave off sexual thoughts about male classmates when you are feverishly trying to book guests for that week’s season preview show, or the radio program I hosted out of a small suburban AM radio station, which had a signal that failed to even reach its own parking lot.

On this week’s edition of “The Sports Kiki,” I was asked by a listener whether I think starting my sportswriting and broadcasting career as a pre-teen has helped me professionally. And the answer is, of course. I was able to make a lot of connections at a young age, and when I graduated college, proceeded to hit up my rolodex. One year after graduation, I debuted on WEEI’s highly rated morning-drive program, starting a nearly three-year stint at the legacy sports station. I landed my dream job, and still couldn’t boil pasta.

But life is not linear. As I move further into adulthood, I have come to realize it is dangerous to value yourself by your career. Your work can be taken away from you. Also, I feel like I could be in the exact same spot today if I had attended that Super Bowl party and waited until the next morning to write my searing Patriots take. After all, I am currently blogging from a basement in sweatpants. I am not exactly Bob Costas. (But at least it’s my own basement, and not my parents’.)

In order to achieve work-life balance, however, one must actually live a live. I could not enjoy the fruits of a fully a satisfying social life until I came out, and even then, it took years for me to become comfortable in my community. During these uncertain times, I am especially thankful for my friendships, and reflecting on what truly determines happiness in life. Nobody on their death bed wishes they worked more.

But workaholism seems to be a common trait in the LGBT community, especially among those who are still trying to find their way. In a recent interview with me, Boston University women’s associate soccer coach Kelly Lawrence was candid about how she used to bury herself in her work, afraid to let her private life became known during her first marriage.

“I was always focused on trying to make sure none of my players would find out, especially because I started working with young kids in the beginning,” she said. “I was so concerned about what parents would think. I was concerned that my players would lose respect for me. And that was totally logical to me in my 23, 24, 25-year old state of mind.”

If you don’t want people to know your true identity, it is tempting to use your work as a shield. I know that’s what I did, and I lost out on many experiences along the way, such as seeing Marvel movies — as my Outsports colleagues discovered this week on our collaborative podcast.

If I came out earlier in life, maybe I wouldn’t have been as dedicated to my 2008 postseason Red Sox blog. But my social experiences would’ve more than made up for it.

Click here to check out this week’s edition of “The Sports Kiki Podcast”. You can also subscribe to the show on Apple’s Podcast page as well as on Google Podcasts, and wherever you’ll find Outsports podcasts.