“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.”
― W.C. Field
I can’t roller skate. Nor can I bowl, or do a pull-up. I don’t expect to ever be able to do any of those things, and they’re no longer important to me. At one time they were, and that stayed with me for way too long. But I’ve gotten over it and accepted my limitations.
I didn’t stop trying to learn how to bowl until I was in my 30s, when finally someone told me it was acceptable not to have that particular skill.
He didn’t word it quite like that, however. We were at a bowling alley with a group from church, and he was splitting his time between reading a book and talking to others. When I mentioned what a terrible bowler I was, he shrugged his shoulders and said, with a laugh, “Who cares? It’s not something I want to be known for anyway.”
Okay, a bit snobby. It did lead me to think, however, is this really me? Is it a goal of mine to be a better bowler, or is everyone else in my circle telling me it should be?
There’s a point where you ceaselessly persevere, and there’s a point where you say, is that even a skill I truly want to master? I had no real interest in bowling, I’d just been told over and over not to give up, I could do it if I tried.
But I couldn’t. I tried and tried, and my body would not cooperate. What’s more, I likely never would have gotten to a point where, even if I could hold my own in a game, I would have looked forward to it. I did not want to bowl.
Once I figured out that hanging onto a group of friends whose main activities I didn’t enjoy was fruitless, I was a lot happier. It took some time, but gradually I developed friendships with people whose faces lit up when they talked about doing the same things I wanted to do.
That’s not to say I’ll always avoid everything I’m not particularly good at doing. I would love to be able to dance, an old-fashioned waltz, perhaps, but it’s fair to say even at my best I won’t be entering any contests. That’s not my goal, at least not at this point. Right now I’d be happy to keep the beat.
(I have learned something about dancing over the years…call it sexist, or call it practical, but as we all know, men lead. With a strong lead, even a woman who isn’t a good dancer looks good. So half my battle will be finding the right partner.)
I’m not limiting myself only to friends who share my interests, either. Some of my best friends (a-hem) are bowlers, and good ones at that.
I don’t have to be the best, or even particularly good, at any given skill to enjoy doing it. I have my expert talents, and I have those I fumble with. It’s that mix of abilities and experience that makes me who I am, perfectly me.