Adamses and sports do not get along. You know the story about the last kid picked for the team? I was the one everyone fought over not to have. I was really not good at any kind of sport, or athletic anything. It wasn’t a matter of simply learning how to do something or practicing it — I was bad at it all, and practice only gave me divisions of badness.
Junior high was a minefield for athletics. First there was gymnastics. We got cycled to different types of sports to try them out, so gymnastics wasn’t something I would have tried out.
We had to try unparallel bars and balance beam, then decide what we wanted to do for the class. All I could see was how far off the ground both were and the potential for me breaking something. I would have opted for the balance beam and skipped trying out the bars, but the teacher insisted. I was terrified of falling off and got stuck on the high one, annoying the teacher.
The balance beam was only slightly better. It was a regulation height balance beam, and we had to do a routine on it that included a leap. The thought of my feet leaving that narrow piece of wood — well, needless to say, I didn’t get a very good grade.
Running was the worst though. There is absolutely nothing I hate more than running. Everyone else, even if they’re not very good, can do it better than me. For our running cycle, we did bean laps. Run a complete circuit around the PE field and get a pinto bean from the teacher. Once time is called, count all your beans. I always had the fewest beans. I suppose the teacher thought the beans would show a sense of accomplishment, but all they showed was how poor of a runner I was.
That trend continued in the Army. Running is big in the army. Units run three times a week, and then the battalions run about once a month. The battalion runs were always the worst. Soon after the run started, I’d drop back because everyone simply ran too fast for me to keep up. The more I tried, the sloppier my feet got until I would feel like I was going to fall — and even then, I couldn’t keep up. But I didn’t stop running like some of the guys did (they would walk for a while, then run to catch up).
After the run, a sergeant would round up all the stragglers and line us up in front of everyone else to lecture us about “not trying hard enough.” All I wanted to do was cry with frustration because I had tried so hard that I was exhausted and it was never going to be good enough.
When I got out the army, the first thing I did was cease all athletic anything. I walk, though that’s it. I’ve since discovered I have really bad feet — everyone in the family has “Adams feet,” but mine seem to have inherited the worst of everything. The arches drop when I walk, so I’m flat footed. My feet roll in, and they roll out. When my feet come down on the ground, they don’t come back up properly. It’s no wonder running was so difficult and exhausting! I was probably having to put much more effort than most just to run.
Have you ever had something that everyone else found easy to do while you found it frustratingly hard to do? What was it? How did you manage it?