As the Olympics start to gear up and we’re all reminded of the capabilities that the human body has — the human body that we all possess — I am reminded of the All-American Dream. The dream that, as Americans, we are taught from a young age; mostly by the motivational posters hung up around the walls of our schools, that “Anything Is Possible If You Put Your Mind to It!” and to “Never Give Up on Your Dreams!” and that there is “No Running in the Hallways,” and so on.
We are told inspirational stories of people who came from nothing and are now super famous and successful. We are shown movies of inspiring figures who defied the odds — whether due to race, gender, or age — to achieve their goals.
We are convinced that the American DreamTM is within everyone’s reach. You just gotta believe.
But, regardless of how many of those “You Can Do It!” posters with a cat hanging on a tree branch that I saw throughout my childhood … I’ve been giving it a lot of self-reflection. And I’m starting to think that I may, unfortunately, never actually make it to the Olympics.
Why I will never make it into the Olympics for [Gymnastics]: I took gymnastics in elementary school because, well, that’s just what all of my friends were doing and I had FOMO before FOMO was even FOMO. I remember not liking it that much, but I DID quite enjoy the foam zone: a swimming pool-sized pit filled to the brim with hundreds of soft, foam, bacteria-absorbing blocks.
Which, now that I think about it, is likely one of the reasons for my above-average immune system.
Why I will never make it into the Olympics for [Hurdles]: One thing that I make a point to tell absolutely no one is the fact that I did track in middle school. Not because it’s shameful to run track, but because I was literally (and not “white girl literally” but LITERALLY, you can ask my parents) the slowest runner on the team.
I don’t think there’s any more explanation required about why I will never make it into the Olympics for hurdles; I just think that, in general, America is hoping to cheer for someone who does more than “at least finish eventually.”
Why I will never make it into the Olympics for [Curling]: I actually HAVE tried curling, believe it or not: it was for a work-related article where the media was invited to try their hand at the “easiest Olympic sport to make fun of” (that’s not what they called it).
As an extreme non-athleteTM, I was nervous to try curling at first. But once I got the hang of it (turns out, it IS as easy as everyone says it is), I expressed to the instructor my delight at the sport’s simplicity. Though I meant it as “wow, even *I* can do this!” he mansplained to me all of the reasons that it actually took a lot of strategy and effort to succeed in curling.
So the reason I will never make it into the Olympics for curling is because I am too good at downplaying the accomplishments of those who have worked hard at the sport for years.
Why I will never make it into the Olympics for [Softball]: I bet you’re expecting a story about how I used to play softball when I was younger and how I was absolutely terrible because for whatever reason I have no athletic ability whatsoever. I bet you’re expecting me to tell you that on my middle school softball team, whenever I was up to bat, I never swung because I figured out that I had a way better chance at getting on first base by being walked than actually hitting the ball. And I bet you’re guessing that when my team was fielding, I was positioned in right field because the ball never went that far and that was the coaches’ polite way of at least putting me somewhere.
And if you WERE expecting all that stuff, how dare you, I was amazing at softball.
No, just kidding, you were right the first time — I was again, literally, the worst one on the team.
BUT THEN AGAIN
According to Dennis Quaid’s hit 2001 blockbuster film, The Rookie, an inspirational tale about a high school chemistry teacher who made it big as a professional baseball player at the age of 45, you’re never too old to become a famous athlete.
After all, as my track coach used to say, “There Is No ‘I’ in ‘Giving Up on Your Fleeting Childhood Dreams to Then Just Settle for Life as a Mediocre Editorial Writer.’”
Hard to argue with that.