I’ve never been much of an athlete. I played some soccer when I was about 8 years old, and I played softball until I was 15 when my vision got pretty bad, but not as bad as my vanity that prevented me from wearing my glasses. It didn’t matter how big that ball was, I was striking out left and right.
In January of this year, I decided it was finally time to get myself in shape and start actually going to the gym that I had been generously “donating” to for quite a while. I gotta say, I am a machine! 🙂 Although I am still quite a bit away from my dream strength and fitness level, I can’t believe the difference already. And this leads me to the wonderful sport of soccer.
Every now and then, I like to try something new that scares me just a little bit. Last Friday, I challenged myself to participate in a weekly co-ed pick-up game of indoor soccer. I knew I wanted to get on that field at some point, but I was so scared I’d look foolish and that I wouldn’t be “athletic” enough. So, prior to playing, I went to watch for a couple weeks so I could familiarize myself with the environment, the game and the people. Something like this helps me to feel more comfortable before trying anything new. I love the baby steps! 🙂
Now, if you aren’t familiar with indoor vs. outdoor soccer, indoor soccer is very fast-paced – you are constantly moving. At least in outdoor, if you play defense, the field is so big you often have time to just stand (and breathe) while the ball is at the other end. Could I handle the speed and intensity of indoor? Won’t I be intimidated by playing with people who, for the most part, have played soccer for quite some time and are pretty darn good at it? I was certainly nervous for all of the normal reasons – fear of being judged, of not being good enough, of not being in shape enough, etc. – but I did it anyway.
When I arrived, I did something else I often forget to do. I risked showing my vulnerability by just being honest about my desire to play, and about my fear. Everyone there was so kind, so inviting, and so, so encouraging. According to them, it wasn’t an option for me *not* to play. So, onto the field I went. And boy, did it feel natural. I even had two shots on goal! I was so bummed when time was up. I had such a blast, and I can’t wait to play again this week.
Of course my experience got me thinking about the “bigger picture.” It’s funny how our assumptions and fears can limit us in so many ways. If I had let my fear of looking like a fool prevent me from giving the game a shot, I would have missed out on this incredibly fun and fulfilling form of exercise, and I would have been relegated to yet another day on the elliptical machine at the gym.
Now that I’ve done this, I can’t help but think “What else can I do?” Oh, and another benefit of this new-found activity? I get to go shopping for some cute soccer shorts. 🙂
So what fears do you have that are preventing you from trying something new? What small step can you take to move toward giving it a shot?