Thursday, October 19, 2006


Is it normal to do things you're not good at? I don't mean things like cooking when one's skills limit them to mac and cheese and hamburgers. And I don't mean the essential things in life either, like a part of your job you struggle with.

Rugby has always been such an uphill battle for me. I wasn't an athletic kid. Hell, I was the "easy out" kid. The one that was continually picked last in grade school gym class; the one noone wanted on their team because she was slow AND couldn't catch (or see for that matter, since glasses weren't allowed in gym without goggles, and THAT wasn't going to happen). I picked it up in college for a variety of reasons, the most obvious being that rugby accepts everyone, which is important if you're looking to play a sport and have literally zero athletic experience. Hell, compared to the fall of 2000, I'm an Olympian these days.

But lets be honest...not so much. I have a good grasp of the rules, the strategy, the game in general. I'm not THAT out of shape. I'm reasonably strong for my size (though admittedly weaker and slower than when I graduated college, though I plan on finishing fixing that this winter). I'm dedicated, passionate, and a pussy. I've been giving this a lot of thought lately, as it's occurred to me its been about 6 years....and I'm wondering if I'm doing the right thing by still playing. Is it time to move onto somewhere where I have a real shot of improving, like running (not that I'll ever qualify for Boston, but I'm pretty confident that I could make some improvement on my current times, and I do want to do a marathon), or triathlons (though I'd need to improve my swimming...and buy a bike)? Or do I keep sticking it out, and find some way over this big huge mental block that keeps me from running and hitting with the vigor that I know my body could handle, the vigor that happens on the (rare) occasion I stop thinking and just go. How do I capture that vigor, make my body just go instead of holding back and letting people push me around (and I mean that in the physical manner)?

And back to my original statement, is this normal in general? Do other people put themselves in these situations, make themselves look like jackasses on a regular basis, work hard for minor victories that are a huge deal to them and inconsequential to anyone else in their immediate vicinity (ie. when I somehow tackled the wing (right off a breakdown) on Sunday, even if it was a smidge high)? Am I crazy for not pursuing a hobby I'm better at, like scrapbooking or crocheting or baking?


  1. that's a terrible reason to quit rugby! you're not ungood. you're as ungood as i am and i love rugby. i play because i love it, not because i think i will be an eagle someday. think what amazing attributes you bring to teams both on and off the field. and you are probably just feeling overwhelmed with your new team, etc. but i am sure you are still learning things every day. i would be so sad if you quit rugby! (i like the new format)

  2. thanks Katy...I'm not quitting...but I am frustrated, not by the team, but more by myself (and a little by living in a D1 city instead of in nice comfy D2 last) :)

  3. Hey. Making good hamburgers is not something everyone can do.

    stop thinking
    That's the key, isn't it?

    Rugby is a more useful metaphor for my life than anything else I've found. If you like it, if you find value in it, if it satisfies whatever you need to be satisfied, then keep doing it. Doesn't matter how good a player you are if it is making you a person that you are happy to be.

  4. I like the new format too. And I hope it wasn't my bitchy post that inspired your doubts.

    As for minor victories, if you only celebrated the big things, life would be pretty dour. And then you'd be like all the other grumps out there.

  5. now the stopping thinking, this will be key....


  6. Part of why I like rugby IS that its hard for me. I hope this doesn't sound too snotty, but athletics are really the only thing I've ever has major problems with (ok, and any class involving electricity in college) some way, the struggle itself IS satisfying (though I AM frustrated right now)...

  7. No, it's not snotty. You're drawn to challenges and since you're talented on most areas you have to look harder to find them than many other people do. Nothing wrong with that. Me, if I wanted to really challenge myself, I'd try to learn something crafty.

    And this is my own personal bias speaking, but I think athletics has an intrinsic value that (for example) scrapbooking does not. Learning to use your body, to push it, to trust it to do what you want when you want, is definitely a sort of self-development that lots of people miss out on when they don't get/stay involved in sports.

    You know the worst part about ELEC 101? The part of it that I needed for the FE was V=IR and I learned that in high school!

  8. Hi Emily ...

    So I wrote this long comment in response to this and then lost it somehow (grr). But my much shorter answer is, I feel like this all the time. And I think anyone who doesn't must be delusional. And you wouldn't be frustrated if it didn't mean something special to you and you know you could do better.

    So, my point is that you have absolutely nothing to lose by pushing yourself, trying your hardest, and see how good you can get. And then just be happy with your effort ...

    And yeah, the whole "not thinking, just playing" thing comes with practice and confidence. And just knowing you gave your all ...

    Funnel the frustration into something positive. And don't try to be superwoman all at once. Try to work on being better one element at a time. Like if you want to be a better tackler, play the game and try to do your best, but think to yourself, today I'm going to work really hard on my tackling. Or your passing. Or communicating with your teammates. Or if it's working out, that you will just run for a small amount, then schedule it and keep doing it, so eventually that amount will be easy and you'll want to do more. One step at a time, One day at a time.

    Okay ... so this was long again, but I really identified with your post. :)

  9. And you wouldn't be frustrated if it didn't mean something special to you and you know you could do better.

    This encapsulates why I'm so frustrated myself at the moment.

  10. I too empathize with this and my motivation is also low right now. HOWEVER, in the past I've really tried to focus on what I like about the sport and how it challenges me in ways other things, easier things, don't.

    I'll be interested to check back to see how you end up working through as I too could use advice on how to keep going! Good Luck!

  11. Emily,

    Thanks for posting this. I may be only a year into my rugby career, but I'm struggling with the same thing these days.