Be Brave Enough to Suck at Something New
Okay, I know what you are going to say. The pandemic didn’t really provide us with a lot of opportunities to try a new hobby. Or did it? Those who couldn’t continue their regular fitness routine, maybe they tried a new form of fitness like Peloton or discovered their neighborhood by getting out and walking. Maybe those who couldn’t (or thought they couldn’t) cook tried to get creative in the kitchen – or just tried to make something edible for more people than just themselves.
Me? Well, I’m glad you asked. Or at least that you are still reading. I was never one to “just go for a walk.” Walking? SO BORING. If I was to get any form of cardio in, I was going to have to be tricked into it. Plus, walking was just too slow for my busy, anxious mind. Or so I thought. Several circumstances combined, however, and in the late spring and summer of 2021, walking/running became my go-to fitness regime. I started seeing physical results that I liked – but what was more surprising was how much it had a positive effect on my mental health. I went from forcing myself to get outside and walk, to pushing the distance I was going, increasing the pace I was capable of, and just wanting to walk/run as much as possible. It cleared my head, I was getting 15,000+ steps and 10+km a day in. Plus, with the fitness challenge that the girls in the office had going, I had to push myself every day to keep up with everyone! Add in a Spotify premium account and I was also finding hundreds of new songs to help keep me going. I didn’t think I would be good at walking/running as a form of fitness, the voice in my head would always say “Well if you can’t go this fast, or this far, that’s not success,” but I was brave enough to give it a try and eventually, change my own definition of success.
Ok, I know what you are thinking. Do you really need to be brave to go walking? As a one sport athlete for my entire life, I never got much opportunity to try something else long enough to figure out if I was good at it or not. I knew what I was good at and could continuously push the envelope in my sport. I never wanted to try something new because “what if I’m not good at it?” Fast forward to my retirement from that sport, and to say I was lost would be an understatement. All of a sudden, I was faced with a TON of free time and nothing to fill it but things that I might not be good at. A bit non-committal by nature, I tried a few new things here and there, and would move on as soon as I decided “well I’m just not good at it.” I was never AWFUL at anything (that I can remember), but I was never “great” like I was in the sport I used to play. I mentioned this to my parents once and they said “you played and trained in one sport year-round for 25 years. What level of success did you really expect after 1, 2 or 3 classes of something new?” My definition of being “good” at something was by having instant, visible success. I gave up on myself too easily.
Then, came Crossfit. I remember watching the Netflix documentary on the 2015 Crossfit Games for about 3 years – literally I would watch this movie at least once week, usually while I sitting on the couch with a beer or wine and some potato chips. It took me until 2019 to be brave enough to enter a Crossfit gym, a “box” as they are called. If you want an activity where there is guaranteed to be something you suck at, Crossfit is the sport for you. You like weightlifting? Great! Here is workout that is all cardio and gymnastic movements. You love running and doing handstands? Awesome! Here is a heavy barbell, pick it up and put it down for reps, maybe even try to put it over your head. It is a constant battle of being great at one thing, struggling on others, improving on what you struggle with, and then losing skills on what you were good at to begin with. And, it’s addictive. There is ALWAYS something new you can be trying, whether it’s a harder or more advanced movement of what you are doing, or simply adding more weight, the definition of success is always changing. If you ever were to say “oh no, I can’t do that” in a Crossfit class, guess what? There is some variation of it that you CAN do. You have no choice but to try.
There is no better example of this, for me anyways, than when I decided to go Bouldering with some of the other myHSA employees. Each week, some of our team carve out time in their day to participate in this particular activity. For some it’s a mental health break, for others it’s a way to get in some physical activity. If you are not familiar with Bouldering, the easiest way to describe it is rock climbing with no harness or ropes, you try to get from the bottom of the wall to the top (about 15-20 feet high) following a set route of holds, varying in complexity and difficulty, without falling off. Sounds easy right? NOPE. Talk about a sport where you will initially have nothing but highly visible failure! The best part though? It's right there for you to try again. Fall off at the bottom? Start over. Fall off just one move from the top? Get back up there, kid, the route is still right there. And as soon as you conquer one route, guess what? There is another! And another! And they just get harder and harder, forcing you to change your definition of success – and forcing you to be brave enough to keep trying something new.
So, what was the point of this blog, you ask? That it’s okay to suck at something new – you just have to be brave enough to try. Don’t let yourself talk you out of something just because you don’t have instant success. When you change your mental game, the physical will follow.
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