Me? Athletic?

If this was a week ago, I would have scoffed in your face and proceeded to stuff a Chipotle burrito in my mouth just to prove you wrong. Paige, athletic? That must be some kind of joke, right? The girl who sits for hours on end watching re-runs of Criminal Minds? The girl who spends more time tweeting than she does spending time with friends? [I actually do have friends, I swear.] The girl whose favorite thing to do is play with fonts and edit her resume? [Again, I am not completely anti-social.] The girl who has (literally) always been in the shadow of her two younger brothers as they shattered swimming records, played 3 sports a year, and made at least one All-Star team a year? Well, low and behold, this girl has officially turned over a new leaf and has a new-found appreciation for athleticism.

Before I divulge into this new adventure, I think it is pertinent that we travel back in time and revisit all of the moments in my life that might lead you to think I would never ever be serious about exercise. Let’s start off when I was a toddler. At the ages of five and six, most young girls were taking ballet or jazz, or some sort of dance lessons, and you can bet I was right there beside them. However, I’ve kind of always had this thing where I wanted to be different from everyone else just for the sake of being different, which lead me to pursue a different art form: ice-skating. Oh, I wanted to be the next Michelle Kwan. I was practicing my triple axles everywhere, perfecting skating on one leg, the whole shabang. Yes, ice-skating was quite the thrill, but needless to say, it didn’t last very long. I soon realized that, in fact, I would not be the next Michelle Kwan, and I was really only in it for the fabulous costumes, and became discouraged to continue on with the sport.

Next, came the ever-exciting elementary school years. Naturally, I participated in soccer and softball, the two classics when it came to VYI (Vienna Youth Incorporated) sports. Oh, I was on some of the best soccer teams: the Vienna Lazers (1997), the Green Leprechauns (1998), the Orange Aliens (1999), the Maroon Martians (2000), the Blue Bombers (2000), and a revisit to the Green Leprechauns in 2001. However, for some reason, the softball team I was on stayed the same throughout the years: the Braves. As you can tell from the photographic evidence, having my hair-wrap in the picture was far more important than attempting to keep my eyes open. I’ll be honest here, I was no real asset to these teams. Yes, I wore the team shirt, and yes I was one of the few team members to show up on picture day, but that was about it. Clearly, these were two sports I did not wish to pursue in my future endeavors (and it’s probably for the better).

Then came middle school. This was the time that everyone figured out what sport they actually liked playing and stuck to it. Since soccer and softball were kind of a bust for me, I turned to my old mantra of being different for the sake of being different and decided to pursue Irish-Step dancing. If you’re not sure, yes, I am referring to Riverdance. My reasons for having an overwhelming need to Irish dance are a bit hazy these days, but good lord did I love it. I even coerced two of my best friends, Jessica and Allie, and even one of my brother’s good friends, Katherine, to do it with me so that we could lead the Irish-Step dancing revolution that would change the world. We were even students of one of the top Irish-Step dancing schools in the world…we might not have been the top students, but hey, that’s got to count for something, right? We participated in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade down Constitution Avenue for three years and were able to display our talents to the whole world. Needless to say, I absolutely loved Irish-Step dancing. What I didn’t love, though, was the thought of sacrificing my entire life and life-savings for the sake of Irish-jigging my way to Ireland for the Worlds competition. Thus, the Irish dancing dream days had to come to an end. [Additionally, if you know anyone who is interested in the beautiful cardboard-based ensemble pictured to the left, please contact me.]

Finally, my final endeavor in the world of athleticism was in high school. At Holy Child (yes, this was the name of my middle school and high school that I went to for ninth grade), I played volleyball. I had never even touched a volleyball before the tryouts, but by some miracle, I was actually sort of good. And by sort of good, I mean really good. I was on the B team (catholic school system), but still participated in every single game. This whole time, I was too busy being astounded by my miracle talent to notice the immense throbbing in my hands after every practice and game. It turns out, my coach had been hoping I would never discover or question the pain. Upon asking her about it, to my dismay, I found out that I was hitting the ball completely the wrong way, and, in fact, if what I was doing didn’t hurt so much, everybody would have the miracle volleyball talent that I thought I was so special to have. Well, I tried hitting the volleyball the normal way, and, you guessed it, I was awful. I attempted to play when I switched schools, but I was pretty much hopeless. Cue the end of my volleyball career. [This is the only picture I could find that provided evidence to me being on a volleyball team. Apparently, my parents knew that I was an awful player and chose not to document the destruction on the court. Thanks mom and dad.]
After the failure of volleyball, I finished all three of my remaining high school years playing lacrosse. I’m not sure exactly why, but I adored the sport. Additionally, and, again, I am not exactly sure why, I chose to be left-handed in lacrosse. When I first started learning how to play, I figured I didn’t know how to play with either hand, so in order to be different, I chose to be a leftie. I’m not going to lie, lacrosse might have been one of the best things to ever happen to me. It’s most certainly what prevented me from becoming obese, that’s for sure, seeing as I hated exercise and loved food. Sophomore and junior year, I was on the junior varsity team and loved absolutely every minute of it. I was with some of my best friends playing a sport I loved. Did I care if I actually got any playing time? Of course not. That didn’t matter to me whatsoever. To me, playing lacrosse was one of those moments where I knew I was most definitely not the best player out there, probably not even in the top 10 best players, but I loved playing so much that I didn’t care. My senior year I was finally on the varsity team. Still not getting much play time, I ate it up. I chose to attribute a different skill that I didn’t even know I had yet when I would play defense on the field: networking. Oh, I would just chat it up with the opponents about their life, if they had any tests this week, which girls on their team were really good. Even though my coach (and some of my teammates) absolutely hated it, it sometimes worked and distracted the opponents just long enough to make them think I was actually on their team. While the majority of my lacrosse career was either spent on the sidelines or verbally distracting the other players, it was definitely the most athletic moment in my life and one of my favorite memories of high school, without a doubt.

All of this has led me to now: three years into college, three years without playing an organized sport, and probably the most athletically minded I have been in my entire life. I’ve finally come to the realization that exercise doesn’t need to be difficult and isn’t a hardship, but is rather a necessity in order for your body to be functioning to its fullest potential. No, I haven’t done any research, I didn’t see the light, I just ran 5 miles one day, and even though I was completely wiped and felt like collapsing on the ground, I felt incredible.

So, cheers to all the years that I have been living in the shadow of my younger brothers as they eat 12 brownies and then somehow manage to turn it into muscle. Cheers to the length of my lacrosse skirt in comparison to my teammates in the picture above. And finally, cheers to growing up and becoming responsible for myself. I am now off to run into oblivion throughout Tysons Corner, so keep your eyes peeled for the girl whose face turns beet red and whose sweat flows like the Niagara Falls.

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