Indulge me some reflection…
As a young child I was a total unco. A small, sickly child, always in the front row of the school photo, always the smallest in my class. The name “shrimp” was a frequently mine, and I certainly didn’t have any strength or fitness to participate in sports. Lucky for me, I was sent off to dance class, and quickly developed a love of Ballet. Perhaps this suited my “skin & bones” frame, and I was lucky to find that, as I was pretty much useless at everything else.
As a child, I couldn’t throw catch, jump, swim or run – therefore I missed out on the opportunity to join in on activities with my more able bodied friends.
As a teenager, I trained full time in dance, but still lacked the strength and fitness to make the most of this opportunity, relying on my genetic advantage (small bones) only got me so far. Many of my fellow dancers, those with stamina, strength & willingness to work hard are some of the best dancers in the world today, and some are not.
I sometimes wonder what might have been, if I’d had the strength, fitness & determination to really go after my opportunities as a dancer. I also wonder if I had the chance to try running, or playing another sport, whether I would have been any good. I guess I was lucky, in that for me, dance was something I did, rather than who I was, so the transition for me into “normal life” was fairly easy.
I spent many years being a “normal person” with other priorities, and eventually starting exercising when I went to work at my first gym in 1999. It still doesn’t come naturally, but by “having a go” I played my first game of touch football when I was 26 (I still play most weeks), attend yoga regularly, and have completed fun runs and baby triathlons, just to prove to myself I won’t drown!
My kids run circles around me (even if they are coming last) but I cheer them on and encourage them to keep at it, every week we are in fields, at tracks and at the studio because these are life skills I learnt late, and I want them to be able to join in as much as they can, now & forever. However, we keep it real.
I have observed over the years, be they dancers, actors, cricketers, swimmers, musicians, footballers or any other thing we choose to do – the kids who believe, “this is who I am”, cope the worst if they don’t make it big.
I’ve realised through my experience, that it is better to focus on sport, dancing, fitness, eating well (or any other worthwhile pursuit) as something that you do, rather than who you are. And to appreciate the value in “having a go” at any level, because there are so many people who can’t participate at all. And that as an adult, we have the opportunity to have a go no matter how slow we are, or which skills we lack – there is no coach going to yell, no dance teacher with the cane, no alpha player ready to humiliate us.
Just have a go, there is value in doing, not only in being.
Next week, we will see the best in the world demonstrate their dedication to years of training, sacrifice & hard work at the Olympics. They are an incredible example of what humans are capable of. So are you! Rather than avoiding something because you are not the best, appreciate the opportunity you have to have a go at any level, and have fun & learn a new (or old) skill for yourself.
If you need more inspiration that that to get moving, check out the para olympians. They are really super humans, who overcome any obstacle to participate in their passions. For them, excuses are not an option, so why are they for the rest of us?