I’m not a great – or even good – rugby player.
Dear friends, you can keep lying to me about this, but I’ve accepted it. At times, I’ve trained really hard, and (shockingly!) improved, but often it’s not a top priority in my life and I get worse again. Sometimes work or university feels more important than training; sometimes it’s grabbing a pint with my pals. It can be frustrating knowing that I could be better, but I will never be great, and that doesn’t mean I love the sport any less.
As I like to remind everyone, I also did Muay Thai for a couple of years. What I mention less is that I burst into tears the first time I was punched in the face, and I never actually did a fight. However, I got a bit fitter, had some utterly ridiculous nights out, and met my lovely boyfriend. Being a bit crap at the actual sport didn’t prevent any of these joyful things!
(As a side note, I’d like to share the first lesson I was taught at training: if someone tries to fight you in the street, turn and run away as fast as you can.)
I’m definitely not a natural athlete, but something I’m pretty sure I am good at is writing poems. That said, if I don’t give myself permission to write shitty poems too, then what on earth is the point? Some of my favourite things to write are scrawled acrostic poems in my friends’ birthday cards. These will never be published, or lead to an intellectual breakthough, but it’s a simple, silly act of love, regardless of poetry skills or experience.
During lockdown, struggling with a slightly different world, I’ve enjoyed more everyday mediocrity than ever. My dad and I cried with laughter at the banana bread I made (how did it look like the bottom of a shoe?), I belt out the Hamilton soundtrack with vocals that would bring Broadway fans to tears, and I make up cheesy love songs on the fly. Very, very slowly, I’m realising I don’t have to be good at things to enjoy them.
If there’s something you want to try, now or when the world is calmer, then what do you have to lose? Maybe you’ll end up the next Emily Scarratt, Ronda Rousey or Carol Ann Duffy. Perhaps, like me, you’ll meet the love of your life, or maybe you’ll warm the bench, make friends, and have some fucking fun.