Social Media Takes Practice

From Anne Clelland:

Anne Clelland finishing the Montclair Sprint Triathlon At my last sprint triathlon, I finished 435 out of 465.

Not last, but pretty close.

In high school, I played for a basketball team that competed in the state championship play-offs, and I qualified in my senior year for the state meet as a shot putter. 

I'm used to my efforts producing results.

A triathlon is simply a re-enactment of childhood days.  As kids, didn’t we all swim, bike, and run?  

As a teenager in Blacksburg, Virginia, I swam laps during adult swim at Shawnee Swim Club, rode my yellow banana-seated Schwinn Stingray to and from High’s Ice Cream at Gables Shopping Center, and jogged from my parents’ house on Rose Avenue up to Margaret Beeks Elementary School and back.  I knew how to swim, bike, and run.

The last sprint triathlon I completed was my eighth solo effort.  Eight times I have been surprised I didn’t place.

I’ve had an insight.  I won’t be surprised when I don’t place at the ninth.

Performance takes practice.

How many times did I try to swish and bank a basketball from eighth grade to my senior year in high school to earn “outside shooter” status by the time I graduated?  A million?  How many times had I thrown the shot put in my backyard, in sun and rain, so that when my father cut the grass with his pushmower, the machine rattled and shook over the furrows raised by that iron ball?  Half a million?

I am an adult.  I have done many tasks many times and studied many fields deeply.  As an adult, I am used to being skilled and knowledgeable.

At the half century mark, I’ve paid my dues, done my time, know my stuff.  Why can’t I just pick this up and be good at it?

Because it’s new.  Because I’ve only just begun to practice.

Do I enjoy feeling awkward, unskilled, and unsuccessful as an adult?

Nope.  I feel exposed, vulnerable, and afraid that people will think ill of me as I stumble.

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks."  I wonder if it’s not that you can’t teach the dog, but that the dog is afraid of looking like a puppy again – cute, but not to be taken seriously.

Social media is new.  We’ve only begun to practice.

It makes children of us all.

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  1. Two books that influenced my thinking on this post were:

    Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, by Geoff Colvin


    The Third Chapter: Passion, Risk, and Adventure in the 25 Years After 50, by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot.

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