Friday, March 20, 2009

Confessions of a "Non-Athletic" Child

I still remember the day as it was yesterday. The "incident' happened in 2nd grade during P.E. The activity was rope climbing. There were ropes hanging from the ceiling and we were supposed to climb up on them. I was not very successful, and my teacher said to me, for everyone to hear: "You are just not athletic."

This comment has stuck with me until this day even though it's not something I usually talk about. Over the years during P.E. in school I was reminded of this comment numerous times: when I ran the 100 meter dash way to slowly, when I couldn't balance, jump, etc. on the balance beam... There were just so many times that I felt that I wasn't athletic and every time I heard the words of my 2nd grade teacher in my head. I figured she must have been right...

It's not that I didn't do athletics while being in school. I was on the crew team; I played basketball in an after school program; I played tennis. I felt okay when I did these activities, but when it came to school sports, I felt self-conscious. While most of my classmates looked forward to P.E., I dreaded it. I always feared there would be another moment for me to show how non-athletic I was.

My fear of school P.E. became almost a self fulfilling prophecy. I think I could have probably run a lot faster, balanced better, etc. had I not been so self-conscious. I wish I could tell my 2nd grade teacher how much she affected my self image when it came to sports.

Luckily, sports and physical activity has been a great enjoyment in my life ever since I left school. I am physically active most days of the week and enjoy hiking and working out at the gym. While I live far away from my childhood friends, I have noticed over the years that some of the "athletic" children are not so athletic anymore.

My point I guess is that we should be very careful and never label children. It can truly affect a child for a long time. I am glad that I have overcome the "non-athletic" label for the most part and have made physical well being a big part of my life.

Be well,