I never was particularly outdoorsy. As a kid, I much preferred curling up on the couch with a book to the overly aggressive lifestyle of the child athlete. Certainly, I appreciated a game of H.O.R.S.E. as much as the next girl, and some of my fondest memories include several consecutive rounds of kick the can. In general, though, I was pretty content exercising my brain instead of my body. Years of basketball and soccer did nothing to cure my aversion to physical activity, and I quickly had to accept the fact that I was never going to wear a varsity jacket. Sports and I were simply not meant to be.
The lowest grade I’ve ever received on a report card was given to me in ninth grade P.E. And trust me, it wasn’t for lack of trying. I always wore appropriate gym attire and listened carefully to instructions, never complaining that it was too hot (which it often was) or that I was being mercilessly bullied (which I often was). I took my place on the team like a good little flunky, whether it was in the outfield or on defense or on the left side of the tennis court. I just, quite simply, sucked ass. At just about everything.
To be honest, it was hard for me to be so bad at sports. There weren’t a ton of things that were difficult for me, especially in school, and I wasn’t used to the uncertainty and self-doubt that went along with lack of natural ability. That’s just kind of the truth of the matter. I was uncoordinated, and too gangly, and awkward, and way too shy to actually get myself in the game. At some point my gym teacher suggested that I try individual sports, like swimming or cross-country, and it turned out I pretty much sucked at those too.
I joined theater, thanking God that I wouldn’t have to make a fool of myself on a sports team. Turns out even that requires some athletic ability. When I was in my second musical, I was disheartened to learn that my dancing skills were absolutely abysmal. I had a hard time telling my right from my left, and I was about as graceful as a tipsy elephant, and it was all the director could do not to burst out laughing at my sad attempts to travel across the stage. It was horribly embarrassing, and I would lock myself in my bedroom for hours practicing for the next time I had to subject myself to an audience.
It turned out movement was unescapable. Who knew? No matter what I decided to spend my time doing, I couldn’t avoid having to display at least a little bit of athletic ability. Even these days, when I spend 90% of my time sitting on the couch watching Netflix, I have to climb four sets of stairs to get to my math class. And it’s kind of embarrassing to walk into the room panting from exertion of walking up stairs, but when you’re me, there’s really no other option.
Sometimes people ask me what sports I played in high school, because that’s a normal question to ask, and I get scared that maybe they’re looking down on me when I tell them how miserably unathletic I am. I know that’s not where my talents lie, and that should be okay with me. It’s just…not. I wish I were one of those people who turned into an animal in the right uniform, the ones who go out and run a marathon and feel euphoric afterward. Instead, I’m petrified of the ball and I want to throw up after I run about a quarter of a mile. That’s who I am.
I like being outside. I like walking, and I like lying on the beach reading a good book, and I like the view from the top of a mountain. I was scared of the outdoors for a long time because it was the place where my inadequacies were realized, but that’s such a small part of what lies out there in the world. There are too many beautiful things there for me to spend my whole life afraid, or lonely, or stuck in a book. Even if I trip over my own feet, at least I’m living. That’s more than lots of people can say.