I have always thought that I was awful at sport. At school I always attempted to get out of any kind of PE lesson. I put far more effort into my excuses than I did waddling around the tennis courts. Despite a very active childhood, I just decided, once puberty struck, that working up a sweat wasn’t for me.
Unfortunately, in my first year of University, I began a relationship with possibly the most active man I have ever met. He doesn’t just like sport, he IS sport. He takes a ball with him wherever he goes and he runs for the bus voluntarily. He’s a lunatic.
When someone is so infectiously enthusiastic about a hobby, it can sometimes make you rethink your own relationship with it.
Whilst playing football with him, in a very Carrie Bradshaw fashion, I asked myself: Did I really hate sport, or was there something about sport that scared me?
I have a fear of messing up. So, what do I do? I don’t try. My unconscious logic has been, if you don’t try, you can’t fail. It’s one way to live life, but it didn’t make me particularly happy.
My fear of messing up has always had a relationship with my sporting ability. Continually, I was letting the fear of looking stupid stop me from playing sports I knew I secretly enjoyed.
So, in an attempt to try and change my outlook a little, I started a sport. Out of all the sports, I choose the one most sedentary: golf. It’s a start!
I actually started playing on a free lesson scheme a month or so ago, but in the wave of reports about Muirfield, a golf club that refuses to allow women to become members, I’ve become a little more ferocious. I’ve stepped up to the tee.
The thing is I didn’t develop this fear of sport and failure until puberty. Despite all the encouragement from my family, I stopped playing sports because I thought it was something that wasn’t for me. I already felt like I stood out from the rest of the girls as bigger, less attractive and awkward, so if boys thought girls couldn’t play sport, why would I challenge them?
Because we can, and I am furious that it took me this long to let a media-led disparagement of women in sports influence me.
Yes, my fear of sport has mostly been about my own insecurity, but when there are few influences of women in sport for you to aspire to, it’s harder to break out of that shell.
From now on, I’m going to strive to try more and more sports. It’s good for me not just physically, but also for my confidence and sense of wellbeing. If anyone tries to persuade you that sport is only for a certain type know that, in reality, that type does not exist.
If you enjoy it, go do it. Mess up, look stupid, keep going, and get better. It’s a process that can be separate from weight loss, competition and all other slogans about ‘wellness’ that are really trying to sell you something.
Sport is for those that want to try something and build a skill, that’s all.
If you enjoyed this post, why not check out ‘Women’s Equality Day: There’s More Freedom to be Had Lady’?