What do you do if physical constraints limit how far you can go in your passion?
Six days ago I was playing bubble sports. The one where you wear a plastic bubble around your body and try to knock other players down. It was a lot more extreme than I expected. I hadn’t felt so tired in years.
Four nights ago I was at my regular pickup basketball session. Won seven, lost one. Good game.
Two nights ago I was in an indoor soccer game. Scored two, made a few more, and played one hour forty-five minutes.
Today I’m sick.
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I’ve loved sports since I was a kid. I wanted to become a professional soccer player.
Actually, I think I’m pretty good at sports.
The only problem is – my body is weak. I don’t know how else to say it. I get tired easily. I fall sick easily. It’s frustrating.
Effort Doesn’t Mean Success
It’s frustrating because I try. I try to be strong.
I’m a bit of a health enthusiast. Sure, there’s room for improvement: I don’t sleep enough. The Internet always hooks me late at night, so I end up with less than seven hours of sleep.
But I try to eat right. Avoid processed foods. No sugar. Get lots of fruits, vegetables and water.
Over the past fourteen months — I’ve regularly exercised three times a week, started weight training, gained twenty pounds (on purpose), got plantar fasciitis (likely due to the extra weight), lost eleven pounds (because I was getting fat) using intermittent fasting and carbohydrate cycling, and greatly increased all my lifts.
I’m stronger than I’ve ever been in my life.
And yet, I’m still weak.
Put in a little extra exertion in the week, drink a little less water, sleep a bit less – and I get sick.
I admire friends of mine who can party all night long, and still function in the day. A friend of mine flew fourteen time zones recently and didn’t have any jet lag at all. Me? I get sleepy driving a car – even after eight full hours of sleep. Yes, I suspect I have a mild form of narcolepsy too.
It reminds me how I would have never made a career out of playing sports. Back when I was the last man off the bench on my high school basketball team, my mom would tell me “You look tired out there. You need to improve your stamina.”
Call me a dreamer, but if it had been based on heart alone – I’m sure I would have made it professionally. But sports aren’t just about heart. They require physical gifts.
Gifts that I never had.
Is Your Passion & Talent What The World Needs?
At some point in your life, you realize that your talents, your passion and what the world needs might not be the same thing.
My parents probably realized this early. So they nurtured my love for reading and science instead. Thankfully — because of that — I can feed myself today.
But what do you do when the passion in your heart is too great to ignore? What if you’re the type, like me, who often wakes up dreaming about dunking a basketball? But realistically you know that your body will never make it?
James Altucher suggests “idea sex”. Merging of ideas and passions. So you love sports but your day job and talent is in childcare? Why not combine the two passions and see what happens? You might be the ten-millionth best basketball player in the country, but as a childcare specialist who organizes local basketball tournaments – you could be the best in the world.
Me? I love writing. And thankfully I’ve stumbled on a way to combine my love of sports with my love of writing. Will I ever be good enough at it to pay my bills? I don’t know – but writing here alone with my laptop, in uncomfortable fever-body-heat, muscle aches everywhere, and joint pain – I couldn’t be happier.
Maybe someday I’ll be strong. The sportsman in me can’t resist that challenge. To be able to bench press my own weight. To be able to stay awake longer. To be able to play vigorous sports three times a week without falling sick.
Until then, I’ll struggle on. Motivate myself when I fall sick. Continue to eat better. Get seven hours of sleep at night. And play my weekly sports with all my heart.
But even if I fail, the writer in me knows – it’ll at least make a good story.
The original version of this post first appeared at The Good Men Project.
Pic by Thomas Leuthard at Flickr