A co-worker of mine, who is an ultra-marathoner and one of the inspirations behind my starting to run, pointed me toward this excellent essay The Perfect Game by turn of the century author G.K. Chesterton. I encourage you to take few minutes and read the entire essay; but to summarize, Chesterton is playing a game of croquet with a friend and is getting beaten badly. Chesterton’s friend asks him why he bothers even playing croquet since he is so bad at it. Here is the response:
It is only we who play badly who love the Game itself. You love glory; you love applause; you love the earthquake voice of victory; you do not love croquet. You do not love croquet until you love being beaten at croquet. It is we the bunglers who adore the occupation in the abstract. It is we to whom it is art for art’s sake. If we may see the face of Croquet herself (if I may so express myself) we are content to see her face turned upon us in anger. Our play is called amateurish; and we wear proudly the name of amateur, for amateurs is but the French for Lovers.
What Chesterton is saying here is that his friend only likes to play croquet because he is good at it. But his friend does not love croquet. It is really Chesterton who loves the game, because he continues to play even though he is so bad at it.
For me, this idea really hits home. I’ve been playing pick-up soccer now for about 2 or 3 years, and I am very, very bad at it; especially compared to most of the people who play. Yet, I have stuck with it over the years, in spite of jeers both internal and external because I love playing soccer. As time has gone on, I know I have gotten better at it, so my sticking to it has paid off.
This idea can really be applied to anything – art, music, whatever. If you really enjoy something, you should continue to do it for the joy of it – not because you will necessarily become good at it (although that can happen too).
This is idea can also be applied to your fitness journey. You may be self-conscious about how you look at the gym, how you can’t bench 225 lbs., how you can’t run for one minute on the treadmill without getting winded. But whatever you do, DO NOT GIVE UP. Do not stop. Keep doing it. Forget what other people are able to do. Develop a love for fitness and working out, and making good choices. Over time, that love will pay off with a happy, healthy body that can do things you never expected – to the point where you might even scare yourself.