Dear Younger Me
I see you, dreading gym class. I see you enviously watching the sporty kids, or at least the kids who can occasionally hit a baseball with a bat. I see you dreading team-picking time, because you’re always the very, very last to be chosen. I see you standing in the outfield trying to be invisible and standing on the sidelines of the field desperately trying to understand the rules of football (that’s something you’re never going to understand, just let it go now). I see you at the back of the line while running laps, embarrassed yet again because you’re trying your best and still can’t run fast. I see you dreading “sports day” and praying for rain. I see your heart break and self confidence absolutely crumble at your teammates’ eye rolls when it’s your turn to play.
And I desperately want to hug you and tell you that you are athletic. That you do find joy in physical activities. That someday, physical activities are what you seek out for enjoyment and for comfort.
Someday you will run, simply for the endorphins (and the inevitable weight loss, adulthood is not kind to anyone’s metabolism). Someday you will set aside precious time to practice yoga. Someday you will discover an absolute passion for kayaking. Someday you will lift heavy weights because, hey, it feels good. And someday, in the midst of this, you’re going to be hit by the realization that you’ve fallen in love with athletic activities.
Someday, dear younger me, you are going to realize that you are talented and athletic and sporty, just in activities never offered by the traditional and restricted gym class. You’re going to realize that your innate personality type is the reason you detest the pressures of team sports and instead excel at individual sports. There’s nothing wrong with you. Your self worth isn’t measured by balls hit or goals made or how fast you can run.
And so, dear younger me, seek out these other activities. Don’t let a restricted and outdated curriculum dictate your self worth. Advocate for yourself. Try different things. Be willing to fail or to hate things. Quit activities you don’t enjoy. Do things just for fun. Find people who are willing to play just for fun. I’m going to say to try to shrug it off when you’re not good at something, even though I know you won’t, because you’re literally wired to strive for perfection and that the shunning still hurts way too much.
But for now, hold onto this promise – this too shall pass. One day, you will never again have to play a sport you don’t want to. You will never have to stand in a lineup knowing that you’re going to be chosen last. Your worth will no longer (seemingly) lie in your performance in gym class. You will have full, complete, total freedom to participate in what you want, to discover what you enjoy, and to refuse to do any activity that you don’t want to.
Hang in there,
<3 Slightly Older Me
PS – Spoiler alert : none of those sporty, popular, “talented” kids from school are playing pro-anything. They were talented and popular in the context of school.