Tossing the C Gene Aside

But there’s another social activity with I highly recommend – and (excuse my sarcasm over the current obsession with avoiding real conversation and interaction with others) you actually HAVE to HAVE personal contact with other humans for it to work successfully. It’s called SOCIAL EXERCISING. I go into detail in Feel Fabulous of its many merits, and I won’t bother spilling the beans on all the many reasons I advocate having partners in pain (ok, admittedly, not all social exercise involves training for marathons). I choose this topic today because it’s the last day for Idaho USTA tennis league teams to play this year–unless you play on a really good team that makes it to regional play– which mine, of course, does not. But read on…. Someone in my family passed along the “C,” or competitive, gene. I really don’t like to lose, and I think I can fairly say that most of my teammates feel similarly. I play on a mixed doubles team with ten other  tremendous athletes. It just so happens that we are either new to tennis or returning to the sport after taking many years off, and as a result, we tend to get our butts kicked on a regular basis. Some might even say we suck. It’s actually quite amusing to see really competitive, good athletes get mad when getting beaten by people who may not be as naturally talented as we are — they just play tennis better or at least know how to move on the court more strategically than we do. (A case in point, when I was out of town one week, my husband called to tell me his team had lost but he could “kick the other guy’s ass on the ski field or mountain bike trails!”). And though I am never happy when I play poorly, and am always thrilled to eke out a win, this has been one of the first times when I’ve actually enjoyed not being on top. Being in last place team takes a lot of the pressure off. It’s clearly not the end of the world if my partner and I don’t win our match when no one else is winning either. In addition, rarely has a partner gotten upset with me when I miss an easy volley (which happens much more than I would like to admit) or double fault. After all, we’re all doing it. Our team likes to socialize when all the matches are over, cheer each other on during the matches, and more importantly, we like to laugh at ourselves. And unless we’re actually competing for some sort of title, isn’t that what sports and team participation is all about? Having some fun and being able to laugh about it when it’s over? And I haven’t even mentioned how much I’ve enjoyed getting to know some really cool people. This epitomizes the benefits of social exercise. If all the pain and stress of losing is a personal endeavor, then we might all feel more distraught. Not to mention the notion of accountability — when we’re on the schedule to play, we can’t back out on the team at the last minute because we’re tired or not in the mood. Our friends/team members will cheer us up, encourage us, pass along helpful hints, and pick us up when we fall, potentially literally if you trip over your own feet as much as I do. That’s what social exercise is all about. We can cash in the “C” card some other time.

Melinda Hinson