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My swimming carnival advice to my high school self

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13th February, 2013
11
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I was riding to work today and I saw a sign that said: “Swimming Carnival!” Swimming carnivals for me were about sitting around with my friends and spacing out my snacking so as not to appear too committed to snacking.

“We’ve been sitting down for a while, let’s head across to the canteen, stretch our legs…”

Morning tea: sausage roll

Pre lunch snack: Killer Python

Lunch: pie

Post lunch snack: 50c worth of cobbers

Afternoon tea: small bag of Doritos

End of carnival snack: Mars Bar

Thankfully, I also packed a lunch. Sitting on grass is tiring, especially when you’re being sarcastic and using a lot of irony.

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At the time I think I thought I was pacing myself, you know, grazing like my nomadic-subsistence ancestors.

In all my years of high school swimming carnivals, I never got in the pool.

Later in my life when I was a teacher, my job at a swimming carnival was usually to supervise kids who were doing exactly what I was doing and try to encourage them to participate

“C’mon Guys! Why aren’t you going in an event, get your house points for participation!”

What I should have said was this.

“Hey look, comfort eater. I know what you’re doing. I know you want nothing more than to be over there swimming but you’re not that good at it and you don’t want to be Eric ‘The Eel’ Moussambani – because this is Australia, not Equatorial Guinea.”

I could then go on. “But that’s a massive problem for you, not doing things because you’re worried you’ll fail. Well let me tell you kid: you are meant for more than you are allowing yourself to be!

“So stop it, before it makes you miserable. It doesn’t suit your spirit. So stop trying to make it fit. The world needs miserable people: scared, observational and miserable – so you don’t need to volunteer.

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“These are people who pretend enjoy selling insurance or developing risk frameworks. If you end up doing that, it’s just the task that you’ll use to make yourself busy because your sick of waking up as you everyday.

“The work will distract you until your wife leaves and your kids start to feel distanced from you. But you’ll be convincing yourself the whole time that risk is ‘really important’ but deep down you know one will ever read it. You’ll pretend it’s about ‘providing for your family’, but its really about hiding from your own self hate.

Continuing to dispense my potentially life-altering advice, I would go on. “So here’s the deal bacon sweat. You can change that right now: go over there, jump in that pool and stop worrying what other people think about you.

“Because I know you think your smart, but you can’t be that clever stretch mark, because you’ve never even had the thought that it’s your own holding back and worrying what people think of you that makes other kids think your weird.

“Kid, I’m giving you pearls here, can you stop eating for two minutes? Do people eat when Al Pacino delivers long and disconnected monologues? Jesus, that speech deserved an orchestra score, instead my soundtrack is you crunching Doritos.

“Who are we kidding, this should not be called a carnival, except for the fact that half the people here look like they work at one.

Give me those chips.”

Parents and family members – take the time off your job to go and watch your kids swim at their carnivals. Encourage them to participate, do their best and have fun.

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It’s what sport is about, no matter how much these drugged up supermen try and sabotage the narrative.

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