Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

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Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby Jwolf » Thu Mar 19, 2015 11:35 am

Or to put it more bluntly, "things you suck at."

I got to thinking about this when I read James' comment in the daily thread yesterday:


Ironboy wrote:It's really hard to do things in a public venue that you suck at. But if you never did them, you'd suck at them forever.


While this is true, what if you suck forever? Or how do you define when you don't suck anymore?

I know people who have quit running, or swimming, or triathlon, or whatever, because in their mind they never got "good" at it. I will probably always suck at swimming in some people's minds-- as much as I work at it, I seem to have plateaued at a speed level which is considered pretty slow by most standards. Yet I enjoy it and don't care if I'm at the back of the pack.

Do you keep doing things even when you feel you aren't improving anymore? Do you get enough satisfaction at your own level? Or do you move on to something else?
Last edited by Jwolf on Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby La » Thu Mar 19, 2015 11:42 am

Jwolf wrote:Do you keep doing things even when you feel you aren't improving anymore? Do you get enough satisfaction at your own level? Or do you move on to something else?

Depends on my reason for doing it in the first place. If I'm doing something because I'm trying to get better at it, but I'm not successful, then I will likely quit doing it. But if I'm doing something because I enjoy it, it gives me pleasure, relieves stress, etc., then it doesn't matter to me whether I am good at it, I will keep doing it.
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Re: Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby Spirit Unleashed » Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:12 pm

I don't do yoga because I suck at it, and hate going out to a studio with other people.
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Re: Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby Habs4ever » Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:21 pm

I suck at playing the piano, but I still play (privately) because I enjoy it. I will continue to play as long as I can even if I don't get better.
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Re: Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby scrumhalfgirl » Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:31 pm

La wrote:
Jwolf wrote:Do you keep doing things even when you feel you aren't improving anymore? Do you get enough satisfaction at your own level? Or do you move on to something else?

Depends on my reason for doing it in the first place. If I'm doing something because I'm trying to get better at it, but I'm not successful, then I will likely quit doing it. But if I'm doing something because I enjoy it, it gives me pleasure, relieves stress, etc., then it doesn't matter to me whether I am good at it, I will keep doing it.


I agree with this! I'm not very good at cycling, and I don't *love* it the way I love running. So with limited time to focus on training at this stage in my life with young kids, I've chosen to focus on running rather than triathlons (even though I really enjoy multi-sport). I hope I'll come back to it someday though - there's a reason I still have my road bike!
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Re: Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby turd ferguson » Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:35 pm

Why does it matter if you're in public?
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Re: Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby ian » Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:58 pm

I agree with "personal enjoyment" being a major factor here. While there is sometimes a sense of satisfaction to be had from confronting a weakness, it's also often the case that these things are weaknesses for a reason and might better be left alone.

Jwolf wrote:Or how do you define when you don't suck anymore?

This question intrigues me, especially if it's reworded to try to define when you're good at something. I've seen numerous examples of someone being, say, in the top 1% of the population at something and yet losing the motivation to keep doing it because of comparisons with even better individuals. Maybe it comes down to enjoyment again, maybe it's a lack of continued improvement, or maybe it's a constantly shifting perception of what it means to suck at something.

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Re: Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby purdy65 » Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:26 pm

Life is too short to do something you don't enjoy!

My only question is - is there a relationship between how much you enjoy something and how good you are at it?

Perhaps a bit.

Personal enjoyment is key though.

Even with running, I'm not going to get any faster, but I still get so much enjoyment out of it I'll do it to whatever degree is possible for me for as long as I can.
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Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby Jwolf » Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:52 pm

purdy65 wrote:My only question is - is there a relationship between how much you enjoy something and how good you are at it?

Perhaps a bit.


This is the tough part for me. I've been struggling a bit lately, and I'm starting to come to terms with it. I am probably not improving any more and may have to let go of certain benchmark measurements that I used to define as "good" for me in running and swimming. I do enjoy it thoroughly but it makes it hard, especially being bombarded with advice (social media, etc) about how to get better.
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Re: Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby La » Thu Mar 19, 2015 3:00 pm

Jwolf wrote:
purdy65 wrote:My only question is - is there a relationship between how much you enjoy something and how good you are at it?

Perhaps a bit.


This is the tough part for me. I've been struggling a bit lately, and I'm starting to come to terms with it. I am probably not improving any more and may have to let go of certain benchmark measurements that I used to define as "good" for me in running and swimming. I do enjoy it thoroughly but it makes it hard, especially being bombarded with advice (social media, etc) about how to get better.

So your issues aren't with the enjoyment of the activity, it's with your measurement of that activity against what you've determined is good, better, acceptable, etc.

I'd say, don't stop doing the activity, stop judging your performance of that activity. ;)
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Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby Jwolf » Thu Mar 19, 2015 3:04 pm

La wrote:
Jwolf wrote:
purdy65 wrote:My only question is - is there a relationship between how much you enjoy something and how good you are at it?

Perhaps a bit.


This is the tough part for me. I've been struggling a bit lately, and I'm starting to come to terms with it. I am probably not improving any more and may have to let go of certain benchmark measurements that I used to define as "good" for me in running and swimming. I do enjoy it thoroughly but it makes it hard, especially being bombarded with advice (social media, etc) about how to get better.

So your issues aren't with the enjoyment of the activity, it's with your measurement of that activity against what you've determined is good, better, acceptable, etc.

I'd say, don't stop doing the activity, stop judging your performance of that activity. ;)

I can't be the only one in the world that gets discouraged from sub-par performance. I didn't think my goals were totally unreasonable. :) I just find that everyone judges their own performance against themselves or others to a certain degree.

P.s. This thread isn't supposed to be about me. ;)
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Re: Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby Ironboy » Thu Mar 19, 2015 3:25 pm

turd ferguson wrote:Why does it matter if you're in public?


For many people it is difficult to put yourself out there and attempt activities that you are not proficient at.

Especially if a public venue is the only place your can develop the skills necessary, like swimming at a public pool, or in my case learning gymnastics moves on rings at the Y (the only place I can practice).

I have been able to appease my uneasiness by riding on the progress I made as a lifter over the past two years at the Y. I feel I've earned sufficient respect thanks to the hard work a progress I've made there that my rudimentary efforts are seen for what they are, building blocks to later progress, rather than some nonsense gimmick or whatever. (likely all in my mind, but real enough to me nonetheless).

There's a big difference between that and what jwolf is saying though (despite my above assertion being the catalyst for this discussion).

In my case I'm talking about developing what I consider adequate proficiency to not make a fool of myself and build upon to develop relevant skills, versus developing a level of performance that you'd feel is adequate for you perceived physical ability, that you can feel proud of.

It's always more fun to do stuff you are good at. (the measure of good is different for everyone), or at the very least competent. Which is a self fulfilling prophecy. I don't play basketball or hockey because I am not proficient, I am not proficient because I never play them.

Perhaps not everyone feels that way.

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Re: Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby turd ferguson » Thu Mar 19, 2015 3:48 pm

Ironboy wrote:
turd ferguson wrote:Why does it matter if you're in public?


For many people it is difficult to put yourself out there and attempt activities that you are not proficient at.

Especially if a public venue is the only place your can develop the skills necessary, like swimming at a public pool, or in my case learning gymnastics moves on rings at the Y (the only place I can practice).

I have been able to appease my uneasiness by riding on the progress I made as a lifter over the past two years at the Y. I feel I've earned sufficient respect thanks to the hard work a progress I've made there that my rudimentary efforts are seen for what they are, building blocks to later progress, rather than some nonsense gimmick or whatever. (likely all in my mind, but real enough to me nonetheless).

There's a big difference between that and what jwolf is saying though (despite my above assertion being the catalyst for this discussion).

In my case I'm talking about developing what I consider adequate proficiency to not make a fool of myself and build upon to develop relevant skills, versus developing a level of performance that you'd feel is adequate for you perceived physical ability, that you can feel proud of.

It's always more fun to do stuff you are good at. (the measure of good is different for everyone), or at the very least competent. Which is a self fulfilling prophecy. I don't play basketball or hockey because I am not proficient, I am not proficient because I never play them.

Perhaps not everyone feels that way.


Thanks - that all seems sensible.

I guess what I was getting at with the question, going in a different direction than everyone else, was whether your issue was doing things you're not good at or doing them in public. Are you afraid of sucking or are you afraid of humiliating yourself?

On the second point - I hear what you're saying in your post but the one thing I think I've figured out is that nobody is looking. We think that everyone is looking and laughing, but in fact nobody is looking. We're gliding through life invisibly. If you're a beginning runner out for your first halting run down the sidewalk, you imagine that everybody in every car is looking at you and judging, when in reality nobody has noticed you at all.

On the first point, everyone else is covering it pretty well.

Your point on basketball and hockey, I prefer to think that I don't play them because I'm not proficient, but even if I did play them I wouldn't be proficient. I know I would be a good skier if I got out more, but I know that I will never be a good golfer. Sometimes its not a self fulfilling prophecy, sometimes we just suck.

ETA: golf is the exception to the "nobody is looking" rule in paragraph 1 above. Everybody is looking and they're all judging you. Golfers are assholes.
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Re: Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby Spirit Unleashed » Thu Mar 19, 2015 3:53 pm

nobody is looking
The opposite sex is always looking at the opposite sex; with guys looking somewhat more. They say so. I didn't make that up.
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Re: Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby turd ferguson » Thu Mar 19, 2015 3:58 pm

Spirit wrote:
nobody is looking
The opposite sex is always looking at the opposite sex; with guys looking somewhat more. They say so. I didn't make that up.


I'm 47, a little gray haired, a touch overweight, a touch undermuscled. I guarantee you I am entirely invisible to women.
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Re: Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby Spirit Unleashed » Thu Mar 19, 2015 4:02 pm

I can't be the only one in the world that gets discouraged from sub-par performance
since I went from running sub-4 marathons to running 5+ marathons it should be safe for me to comment. I never really think about lost performance. I think about what can I do right now today. I'm not even fast for *gulp* 56! :help: But I still like being outside and going along.

I have not been discouraged that I'm slow due to age/ worn out knee. I was discouraged as I slowed down due to heel spur because it kept getting worse and worse no matter what I did.
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Re: Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby Spirit Unleashed » Thu Mar 19, 2015 4:03 pm

turd ferguson wrote:
Spirit wrote:
nobody is looking
The opposite sex is always looking at the opposite sex; with guys looking somewhat more. They say so. I didn't make that up.


I'm 47, a little gray haired, a touch overweight, a touch undermuscled. I guarantee you I am entirely invisible to women.
Uh..... :lol:
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Re: Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby Ironboy » Thu Mar 19, 2015 4:14 pm

I have no doubt that it's mostly perceived, but not entirely.

"Humiliating" is a strong word... "embarrassing" maybe.... whatever the word for just not being proud of your performance. Sometimes just making it to the end of the swim lane is enough to be proud of yourself, but at some point you'll need more than that.

I'm not sure what my real feelings are, it's something I tend to intentionally avoid thinking about.

But think it boils down to being able to take pride in what I'm doing. And depending on the person as well as the activity in question, as well as where they are in their skill progression, what qualifies as something to be proud of can be a very different things.

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Re: Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby turd ferguson » Thu Mar 19, 2015 5:01 pm

Ironboy wrote:I have no doubt that it's mostly perceived, but not entirely.

"Humiliating" is a strong word... "embarrassing" maybe.... whatever the word for just not being proud of your performance. Sometimes just making it to the end of the swim lane is enough to be proud of yourself, but at some point you'll need more than that.

I'm not sure what my real feelings are, it's something I tend to intentionally avoid thinking about.

But think it boils down to being able to take pride in what I'm doing. And depending on the person as well as the activity in question, as well as where they are in their skill progression, what qualifies as something to be proud of can be a very different things.


Its a hard question to answer, sometimes asking the question is more important than answering it. It you can explore in your brain the source of your hesitation (not wanting to suck vs. not wanting to be embarrassed) I think its a good step. What would suck even more is if you had a strategy to fix what's holding you back and it turned out that what was holding you back wasn't what you thought it was.
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Re: Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby Jo-Jo » Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:01 pm

turd ferguson wrote:
I'm 47, a little gray haired, a touch overweight, a touch undermuscled. I guarantee you I am entirely invisible to women.


You're assuming women are so shallow they're overlooking your incredible wit...I wouldn't be so sure you're invisible :D :D :wink:
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Re: Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby Dstew » Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:38 pm

Jwolf wrote:I can't be the only one in the world that gets discouraged from sub-par performance. I didn't think my goals were totally unreasonable. :) I just find that everyone judges their own performance against themselves or others to a certain degree.

P.s. This thread isn't supposed to be about me. ;)


You are not so then one has to examine why the sub par performance and is there a way around that. My first example was in 2013 I only was able to play five rounds of golf for a variety of reasons. My game fell apart but I still enjoyed tinkering with my swing and my clubs on the driving range. I did not want to frustrate myself to death with an 18 hole round at 4-4.5 hours of misery so I decided to see if the skills I had honed the range would transfer to the course. I found a course 5 minutes away and I was the first one out, by myself and was able to play 9 holes in a little over an hour. 5 minutes in my car and I was in my home office ready to go before 8:30 am. So I sucked at golf, worked out it because it was something I enjoyed doing and found a nice alternative. I now enjoy going to the range, playing nine holes more then doing 18. I can and have played very well on 18 so I sucked and then I did not. I also adjusted my expectations to account for my diminished abilities. I do suck compared to where I once was but I am working on mitigating the sucking so I can still enjoy the game. I do but I am fine with giving it up if there is more frustration then pleasure. I have a friend who plays 4 or 5 times a year but is on the driving range almost every day.

I ran a little over 21 K today and around 2.5 hours. It was a little uncomfortable near the end and although I am very stiff, I am not sure. I did start to run faster as I was attempting to do the last 6 K at a "decent" pace but then I decided, why? I am never going to run as fast as I could, maybe even not as fast as last year and I had just gotten use to how slow I was. Today I saw versions of me passing me as if I was standing still and there was some envy, some sadness but the second I picked up the pace, enough body parts warned me of the consequences of that and so I settled back into my jog. With today's results, I am now down to 2 or 3 potential races I may do this year or in the future where in exchange for sucking, I get to run in the mountains and with immediate support should something happen.

For me,especially after the toll 2014 took , I am discouraged but it is a darn good thing that I am. My mind, body and soul were all attempting to hint that I could still go out and do long runs and then suck at doing marathons by my subjective measure, that means slower then 4 hours but I was not having any fun or really getting anything out of it. I could not even justify the means to the ends because the ends meant nothing to me. So I started jogging and will not enter a conventional race.

Back to golf, I have always enjoyed tinkering with the swing but now ... I would buy a 100 bucket of balls and hit the range 3 or more times a week. Now, I will get 25 balls and if I am having a really bad and frustrating day, I will just leave. I will play first thing in the morning or if I play 18 holes, it is likely at a resort course, with my wife and I go mid week and off times for a better chance we will just play by ourselves. I suppose I am doing the same thing with running as what I was putting in terms of effort and pain did was not justified by the end result. So my focus is on jogging and races where I would have never competed for a podium when I was in my prime and I should be able to finish in the middle of the pack. And I am not too proud to say that if I really suck at that, in the old days I would have "punished" that performance with more hills, longer runs but now, I am going to take that as a sign to pack it in.

I have thought long and hard about this topic and I have concluded that I am too old for this sh*t but even more importantly, I have earned the break I am going to give myself. The blood, sweat and tears I have put into golf and running that what I have accomplished, I am now not to proud to give up. I could continue to run marathons but there is now literally nothing about the entire process I enjoy. So why do it? In my opinion, there is nothing wrong for you to say to yourself, I "suck" at swimming so no more lessons or organized swims or a triathlon but I enjoy it so I will go the free swims. But equally valid is I suck at it but enjoy the people and the races so if I am near the back of the pack, who cares? When I did the 50 K race last year, I saw some people who clearly were thinking that entering that marathon was the dumbest thing they had ever done and the second the race was over, they were going to burn their shoes. Hell, there were a few very fast people that could also apply to. But I also saw people who could care less what the clock had to say and they were having a ball. Having said that, I do appreciate the dilemma of once I could do this, I have adjusted my expectations and despite my best efforts, "failed". I was confident after crossing the 42.2 K line at Calgary during the 50 K race at 4:30 that will some good speed work and I could run faster, I could break 4 hours. At first that seemed realistic but with each passing week, I was barely holding onto what I had. I was convinced before the gun went off that 4:15 was realistic but 4:20 is something I might have to settle for. I finished 4:25 and wondered what the heck I was doing. It took me months to accept that my marathon career was over and maybe my entire race career. So I do feel your pain.

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Re: Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby Dstew » Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:54 pm

turd ferguson wrote:
Ironboy wrote:I have no doubt that it's mostly perceived, but not entirely.

"Humiliating" is a strong word... "embarrassing" maybe.... whatever the word for just not being proud of your performance. Sometimes just making it to the end of the swim lane is enough to be proud of yourself, but at some point you'll need more than that.

I'm not sure what my real feelings are, it's something I tend to intentionally avoid thinking about.

But think it boils down to being able to take pride in what I'm doing. And depending on the person as well as the activity in question, as well as where they are in their skill progression, what qualifies as something to be proud of can be a very different things.


Its a hard question to answer, sometimes asking the question is more important than answering it. It you can explore in your brain the source of your hesitation (not wanting to suck vs. not wanting to be embarrassed) I think its a good step. What would suck even more is if you had a strategy to fix what's holding you back and it turned out that what was holding you back wasn't what you thought it was.


It reminds me of what a golf pro finally told a coworker of mine after weeks of failed lessons. The pro had tried everything including having him hit this huge bucket of balls, probably over 500 balls and a metronome to get my coworker to hit better. The coworker screwed up his wrist and when I asked to continue on, the teaching pro said the problem was LOFT. The coworker asked, did he bend the iron he was using to practice. No the pro said, your problem is a Lack Of Fracking Talent. Sometime people just suck because they do not have the talent. There are many who can live with that and I remember one very bad runner I saw at a number of races whose greatest pleasure and joy in life was sprinting out to or near the lead for about 100 meters in a 5 K race and he would be lucky to finish in the top 50%.

Or maybe the mind is willing but the body is no longer able to do what it once did. At one time I lost track of the number of times people would say to me, no insult meant but how do you even finish a marathon, never mind qualify for Boston with the body type I had. Luck and great genes but even that had its limits and Boston is long gone and even a marathon is now in my rear view mirror. I got lessons, I got the right equipment but no matter what I did or how hard I tried, I sucked at downhill skiing. I eventually gave that up for although I could make it down in a decent manner, I was always trying to figure out which speck way down the hill was the one I was following. No one cared that I sucked and I was always invited but at a certain point, it was why bother. And as the great philosopher Dirty Harry once said,

A man's got to know his limitations.


And related, from the Unforgiven: Deserve's got nothin' to do with it.

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Re: Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby Dstew » Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:58 pm

turd ferguson wrote:
Spirit wrote:
nobody is looking
The opposite sex is always looking at the opposite sex; with guys looking somewhat more. They say so. I didn't make that up.


I'm 47, a little gray haired, a touch overweight, a touch undermuscled. I guarantee you I am entirely invisible to women.


51 a little grey and losing my hair, a more then a touch overweight, not bad muscle tone and glasses.

I tried an experiment to get noticed. Grew my hair out and then combed it straight back. Then grew a beard. I have now shaven my head and the beard for I was noticed but the reaction was that they were not sure if I was a well groomed homeless man just off his meds or a mountain man in town looking for female companionship. Slightly invisible was much better.

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Re: Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby ultraslacker » Fri Mar 20, 2015 2:27 am

Jo-Jo wrote:
turd ferguson wrote:
I'm 47, a little gray haired, a touch overweight, a touch undermuscled. I guarantee you I am entirely invisible to women.


You're assuming women are so shallow they're overlooking your incredible wit...I wouldn't be so sure you're invisible :D :D :wink:


He has good earning power too. That's always important to attraction. :P

(oops sorry off topic)

On topic, I agree that if I enjoy something it doesn't really matter if I ever become good at it (take running for example... I've never been good at it but I keep doing it because it makes me feel good).

On the other hand, success creates confidence... and lack of success can destroy confidence, unless you channel it to inspire working harder. :)
"You're an ultrarunner, normal rules don't apply to you." (Doonst)


First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do. ~Epictetus

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Re: Continuing to do things you aren't good at...

Postby Jo-Jo » Fri Mar 20, 2015 5:28 am

ultraslacker wrote:

On topic, I agree that if I enjoy something it doesn't really matter if I ever become good at it (take running for example... I've never been good at it but I keep doing it because it makes me feel good).

On the other hand, success creates confidence... and lack of success can destroy confidence, unless you channel it to inspire working harder. :)


To follow on the heels of Holly....
Agree with both her comments. And will add that success in one area might make you attempt other stuff that you've been afraid to try...that's been my personal experience. Mind you...not minding sucking at stuff may be a function of age too. To tie in with Mike's post; I've pretty much figured out that I'm not on the radar screens of the vast majority of the population so I can go ahead and "suck" at a whole bunch of new stuff now; first up is kayaking. I've wanted to learn how to do this for eons. I have the opportunity to have regular access to a kayak and a lake this summer. I am already picturing how clumsy I'm going to be :lol: :lol:
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