Finding back myselfI was asked to write an article on dragon boating, my feelings and such, for the sport and team for a monthly newsletter that would be sent to a few functions without my class of business. I came up with something and the person in charge came to me and said my article was boring. He lost interest at the 2nd paragraph and felt the whole article was too corporate. I agreed. He asked me if I want to redo it which I did, and I put in more personal feelings and what I really wanted to say in the article. I realised I have been corporatised and couldn't write anymore in my own style. This must not go on. I must not lose myself. I must not become what the company wants me to become. Anyway, below is the article which I did. =================================
"True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are united."
I have always been a restless person and thus always seeking to release the energy through sports. I played squash (and nearly lost a tooth), did kickboxing (and got scratched bad by amateur boxers), picked up roller-blading (which nearly cost me my hip), exhibited clumsy moves in hip hop dance classes, etc. Despite the obstacles that have always stood in my way, engaging in sports is never a chore because I’ve always enjoyed what I was doing and I love the sweat (and endorphins) that come with it. I have never participated much in team sports in school so when the first dragon boat clinic was held, I jumped at the chance. Of course, the rumour of yummy-looking males in the dragon boat arena added to the motivation. I have to say I am somewhat disappointed with the ugly truth (pun unintended), yet even so, I have never once, looked back.
~Alexander von Humboldt
During the initial sessions, I always go home with a very sore body but feeling somewhat satisfied. Secretly, I think many people do enjoy a certain amount of pain, but they just refused to admit it. Anyway, if I say that getting too much sun and potentially ending up with lopsided arm muscles hadn't crossed my mind, I'd be lying. As a female (and one who hides under an umbrella even when walking to purple house for lunch), these are legitimate concerns. But just like the idea of running a full 42km marathon sounds daunting, we know the satisfaction is invaluable.
As time passed, I started to look forward to the training sessions and the anticipation plus adrenaline rush of going to races kept me motivated. I love the competitiveness of the sport and the exhilaration of kicking the butt out of another team (especially other oil majors).
A new dragon boat jersey = $26
A carbon fiber paddle = $300
The expression on your competitor’s faces (when they lost by a mere 0.02 seconds)? Priceless.
Priceless also because we don’t see this often enough.
But our egos do not suffer any damage because we have been conditioned in the exact same manner to not feel badly about losing and there is always a next time. And a next time. And a next time.
We all know exercising brings health benefits. That keeping fit and healthy now is far greater than popping pills when I'm old. One of the big plus of dragon boating is the amount of shouting we have to do during training to breathe properly, release energy and spur each other on. I can’t recall the number of times when I get my team mates to shout out, as a form of venting their exasperation, as if they were shouting at the bosses who breathed down their necks, spouses who refuse to flush the toilet, or the stupid kid who beat you to the last seat on the train. It really is a great way to release the pent-up energy and what better way to do it, than on a Saturday morning, in a boat filled with 9 other people, doing the exact same thing?
Similar to running, dragon boating trains endurance for the body and mind. Pushing myself further than I think I can brings a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Here in the team, I have teammates (actually, just one teammate) who would offer me his S$400 IPPT gold award if I can outrun him. Where else, apart from this team, can I find such supportive teammates?! I almost went to church to thank God for the incredible good fortune bestowed upon me. Just for your info, said teammate completed a 2.4km in 9 minutes and 45 seconds while I am only a mere 7 minutes and 18 seconds behind. Which I believe he knew.
Being part of the dragon boat team has also given me valuable things besides fitness - I have found new friends whose company I totally enjoy and share camaraderie with. We had gotten so close in fact, that it was perfectly natural for the girls to ask the guys about my size for a sports bra which was the present of my recent birthday. Because of our passion for the sport, we spent a lot of time talking about how we can get better at it. It's built a bond for us so strong, that we would want to spend more time with each other, other than just being in the boat. Apart from our usual Saturday breakfasts, we’ve done numerous lunches and dinners, exchanged Christmas presents, shared rooms on a trip, shared gossips, and shared bathtubs. I have to say, finding a new group of good friends with a zest for life and sports from the workplace, is something that I had never quite expected.
I may have made it sound simple to keep up with a sport (or more than one, for that matter) despite being in operations, but it really is not that difficult. Sure, you’d need some re-scheduling around but allocating an hour for sports every other day is still somewhat manageable. The most difficult part is getting started. But once you did, you'd be surprised how easy it actually is. If you're someone who has always thought of exercising but has also been putting the idea off because "things are always coming up at the last minute" or "I can always start next week", do not hesitate anymore. Place a measuring tape on your table to keep track of your expanding waist line or better still, put a weighing machine right by the snack table to remind yourself of the need to start. Alternatively, choose a less cruel method like setting up a workout day with a co-worker who cannot handle rain checks (like me) and rid yourself of the excuses once and for all. Other than getting your work-life balance, picking up a new sport may bring you more satisfaction and fulfillment than you can imagine.