Our interests and passions are an integral part of our ongoing health. They underpin an often-neglected part of our holistic wellbeing and health, known as “social-spiritual wellbeing”. As blokes we need to constantly challenge ourselves to experience more and engage with new opportunities. There is more to us than just our occupations and we need to explore the things that excite and interest us. These passions and interests, the things that make us tick, are where we as blokes get a sense of purpose and identity. Often however, our hardwired competitive nature, and need to win can sabotage us.
A few years ago, at age 40, I pulled on the boots to play my first ever season of AFL footy. I wanted to be involved as my eldest son was playing and I had visions of playing out the season in reserves and having some great father/son bonding time. As it turned out, he went straight into the league team after only two reserves games and I played for a couple of seasons, having a ball with a great bunch of blokes.
Sometimes, mates with outstanding footy pedigrees would say to me “How do you do it?” and honestly, I couldn’t understand their question. I was slow, lacking in skills and pretty unfit, but I was having fun, and getting a little bit fitter. I loved it! I only understood their plight a couple of years later when I got back into a form of motorsport that I had been reasonably competitive at in my 20’s, rallying.
I was keen as mustard to get back into rallying after a 10-year hiatus, but as I progressed through the season, I realised I wasn’t really enjoying it. I wasn’t committing to the pace-notes; I wasn’t holding it flat over the crest that my notes said I could. I knew how hard I needed to push, but the middle age me couldn’t get to where the 20-year-old me had set the bar. It was getting me down, and as I drove into the midway service park (the pits) at my last event I knew it was time to finish up when I was wishing the event was over. The younger me used to wish that the rally would just keep going, there never seemed to be enough competitive k’s.
My mate’s question about “how could I possibly enjoy footy in my 40’s?” suddenly became clear. I didn’t have a younger footy-self against which to measure; my next game could still have been my best even if that best wasn’t very good at all. My feelings about rallying suddenly made his feelings about footy so much clearer.
This serves as an illustration that our competitive natures can sometimes get in the way of us engaging with a new passion or interest. It might take moving out of our comfort zone to a new hobby or past-time to give us the space we need so that we are not constantly measuring ourselves against our old markers of competence or manhood.
For more men’s health and wellbeing information check out our website, here you will also find our Working with Warriors podcast series. Alternatively get in touch with us via the details below for a chat about arranging one of our community educators to present a health and wellbeing session or run a Fast Track Pit Stop for your local community group or club free of charge.
Glen and the Team
The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401
Phone: 08 9690 2277