Actually, I'm a good sport in the sense that I'm a very graceful loser when I fail miserably in a sport (and then quit it), because I have discovered that I have no natural talent for sports and getting upset when I fall, miss, trip, go too slow or otherwise fail would lead to much unhappiness.
Proof of my poor abilities, despite my desire to be one of those sporty and fit types, is in the abandoned athletic gear that has cluttered my homes.
Softball? I almost got sort of good at that because my dad encouraged practice — but we only saw him every other weekend, and even less often when we moved from California to Oregon. Even slow pitches to the head seem dangerous, though, so it's probably for the best.
Snowboarding seems cool. I managed to score a snowboard pretty cheap at a charity auction in 2008, I don't know if it was the right size, but I liked the color and the idea of being a snowboarder. But without health insurance at the time, I didn't like the idea of hurtling down a snowy mountain at whatever unnatural speeds. It sat and sat. And still sits, even though I do have health insurance. I have had just enough friends shatter fibias or tibulas or other important bones that snowboarding seems like certain death, or at least certain walking with crutches.
I helped found the Juneau Roller Girls and was present at one of the first, if not the first, practices. I eventually ran out of time to go to practice because of a particularly time-consuming job, but I also realized that maybe I wasn't as tough as the majority of derby girls. I didn't particularly like having lots of bruises and skating "suicides" was as miserable as it sounds. I still have a pair of skates and a helmet lying around.
The most promising sport I have taken up has been cross-country skiing, though I am very easily discouraged by rain, ungroomed trails and hills. This is one I haven't given up on, but I need to practice not coming up with excuses this winter because the skis have gotten much less use than they deserve.
One sunny day, some friends were talking about what a perfect day it was for riding bicycles, at which point I pictured myself effortlessly riding around through meadows with my sundress and hair flowing, a crown of daisies atop my head as I laughed gleefully in the sunlight to a song by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros mysteriously playing. Where is that song coming from? So, with help, I got my hands on a beautiful cruiser that begs to be ridden on quaint paths along sunny beaches. Except I live in the land of hills and mountains and rain. I should also mention the last time I rode a bike was approximately 12 years ago. Riding around in the parking lot of Play it Again Sports was fine, though I was admittedly a little wobbly, but it was when I was riding with a purpose the next day that I realized that I was utterly terrified of going down hills, and even my shapely calves were not up to the task of taking a fixed gear bike up that same terrifying hill. And I don't want to ride in the rain. And I want to have a posse of other friends on bikes with daisy chain crowns. But here's where I'm drawing the line. No more excuses, Melissa, no more failed athletic endeavors! Put on that helmet instead of a stupid flower crown and ride!
The thing is, there are plenty of activities or skills that require practice on top of or in place of natural talent. Every time I fail a little or get disheartened, I must remind myself to keep trying. Even if practice doesn't make perfect, it at least builds enough confidence to simply accomplish things.
How do you deal with trying new things that you may not be immediately good at?