Not too long ago, I had playground duty at work. I stationed myself by the hula hoops and observed kindergarteners release some much needed energy. N.B. – anyone who doesn’t believe in original sin has never had playground duty. But I digress. Some of my babies are hooping geniuses. There was one girl having a conversation with another like nothing was revolving around her waist. All of them were begging for attention from me or from each other to watch how awesomely they hooped.
Then came the boy who lives inside my head.
“Hey! Look at me, I’ve almost got it!” Indeed, he was coming close to be able to hula hoop. He just needed some help. “Why don’t you ask one of your friends for help?” I suggested. “That’s okay, I’ve almost got it.” I watched him struggle a few more times, put the hula hoop down, and walk away.
“Damn,” I thought to myself. “What a shame! He’s missing an opportunity to refine a skill in which he’s interested, get closer to some of his friends, or maybe even make new ones. Instead, he’s walking away with his head down, saddened that he can’t hula hoop yet.”
I didn’t think I would see my entire training season summed up in 2 minutes. Way to go, kid.
The groups with which I associate myself (see, not even comfortable saying ‘belong to’) have some really awesome, capable, talented athletes. Some of them even are very kind people probably worth getting to know even better. A great way to grow as an athlete and likely as a person would be to train with them.
Nah. I’d rather train alone, miss out on the bonding opportunity, and improve at a much slower rate than be reminded that EVERYONE I KNOW IS BETTER THAN I AM. I am not a particularly strong swimmer, cyclist, or runner. It kills me to think that I wouldn’t be contributing anything to the group – only sucking up resources and time.
“But Joan! Even if it’s true, which it probably isn’t, you can encourage others in a way only you can do!” Blah blah blah. Someone else can do that too! No lie, I was the last person of both of the above-mentioned groups to finish at the race last weekend. While it was cool to have people cheering for me, I don’t want to be reminded that I’m the slow one. As much as I love hugs, there is a big part of me that would have rather been greeted by silence at the finish line.
Hey, look, it’s a picture of my situation:
Above, you see an illustration of Lev Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development. Hula fail and I live in the purple. Everyone I know lives in the light green. My tri coach comes to visit me in the center. My decision to train alone is supported by well-researched developmental psychology, y’all.
I know I should do better. I’ll let you know if I do.