“Crank up that resistance and get up out of your saddle! And sprint!”
I gave my resistance knob on my bike a half turn to the right and stood up out of the seat so that I wouldn’t look like a fool next to my girlfriend and her friend, thinking about the terrible decisions that I made that brought me to this situation. I was in yet another fitness class, this one being a 45-minute spin taught in a room with electronic country music with neon blue lights and a bunch of 20-something-year-old girls who were all judging me for being one of two dudes in the class. And just like that previous fitness class, this one was kicking my butt.
After a fairly successful racing season, I was just looking for a way to get a nice little sweat on without working too hard, and when my girlfriend asked our board game group chat (it’s exactly what it sounds like) if anyone wanted to join her for a spin class, I thought that this would be a great opportunity to 1) get a little off-season exercise, and 2) show off to her and her friends. But once we got to the class and push started to turn into shove and I felt like my legs were going to fall off, I realized what an error I had made. As I struggled more and more to keep my pedaling rate at the level we were supposed to, I realized that I’m just an atrocious biker. For whatever reason, any sort of biking for exercise just kicks my butt, every single time.
Most of the time, I just avoid things that I’m not good at. Spicy foods, swimming, drinking while watching the Patriots – I very rarely, if at all, partake in any of those things, and if I do, it’s in a situation where nobody can see me do it. I’ll experiment with hot buffalo sauce when I’m at home and nobody can see me cry and sit in the bathroom for thirty minutes, I swim only right when the pool opens or right before it closes so no one can see me flop around like Michael Scott doing the worm, and I never drink during a Pats game because 1) I don’t wanna punch a hole in my TV when the refs treat Gronk like Shaq circa-2001 and 2) Touchdown Tommy one hundred percent plays better when I’m cheering for him.
In pretty much all facets in my life, I avoid things that I’m bad at. At work, I’ll try my hardest to fix the equipment by myself so that I don’t have to call tech support because I hate talking to people on the phone. In video games, I always avoid being the close combat-style player since I’m better at sitting back in the shadows and destroying people with my ranged attacks. In my relationship, I avoid making any decisions since I’ve been told that they’re all wrong.
This just makes the few things that I am good at all the more important. A perfect case-in-point is my killer buffalo chicken dip. I’m not a super adventurous chef, so I pretty much make the same four or five meals again and again because they taste good enough, they’re cheap, and they’re healthy (enough). That means that when I go to a barbecue or a tailgate or any sort of get-together, my options of what to bring (outside of booze) are fairly limited. And I’m not going to experiment with some dish and have it turn out disgusting and have people think that I’m some sort of incompetent man-child who only cooks four or five things.
So instead, I’ve perfected the buff chick dip (not gonna give out my recipe, but the secret is to use blue cheese). I know that no matter how bad or limited of a cook I am, I can make a near-perfect buff chick dip every time and nobody will ever complain. Even though they know that it’s coming, it’s good enough that they don’t mind.
Maybe if I was a little more adventurous of a person or at least a decent cook, I would have the confidence or skill to experiment with food. But since that was not one of the few skills that I have, there’s really no reason for me (currently) to risk looking like a fool. I know that in the future, I’ll have to expand my repertoire a little bit, but I have at least half a century to work on that. At this point in my life, it pays off to be excellent at a very few things than decent at a bunch of things because there’s simply no need to do all of those things. I don’t need to make a different dish every time a go to a barbecue. I don’t need to do a bunch of different workout regimens. I don’t need to do everything at work. As long as you have a couple, very specific things that you’re good at, you’re set. Unless you’re Tom Brady, then you’re perfect at everything. .
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