A Little Happier: A Friend Is Startled by Her Realization About Skiing

Several years ago, I had a conversation that I’ve never forgotten.

I was at a party, and I ran into someone I hadn’t seen for a long time. She was the mother of a girl in my daughter Eliza’s nursery-school class. I’d always really liked her, but while we’d always been friendly, we’d never become close friends, and I hadn’t seen her in years.

So I was really happy to get the chance to catch up. She and her family had recently been on a skiing trip, and she told me what a great time they’d had.

“Do you ski?” she asked.

“No,” I said. “It’s not my kind of thing.”

“Oh, you should try it!” she said. “It’s a wonderful activity, especially as a family. You’re outside in nature, it’s beautiful, it’s great exercise, it’s a really fun adventure to share.”

“I get it,” I answered. “All that sounds terrific. I’ve tried it. But I’m really uncoordinated, so I’m not good at that kind of physical activity. I really suffer from the cold, so doing things in the snow doesn’t appeal to me. Plus I dislike having to handle lots of equipment. So it’s not something that I find appealing. It’s a relief to me that my husband has a bad knee. I don’t want to go skiing.”

Our conversation turned to different things, and after a while, we both started talking to other people.

And about thirty minutes later, then she reappeared at my side.

“I’ve been thinking about what you said,” she told me in a confiding tone. “I realized…I don’t like skiing.”

Just then, someone interrupted us, so I never did get to follow up on her disclosure.

But I’ve never forgotten it.

It’s fine to join in an activity because other people enjoy it. We all do that. It’s part of family life and group life. I think it was Jerry Seinfeld who said, “There’s no such thing as fun for the whole family.” Sometimes, it can be fun to do something even if you don’t actually find it very fun.

But here’s the thing: We want to be honest with ourselves. Because it’s one thing to say: “Well, I’m bored at the playground, but my son enjoys it so much, I’ll take him.” Or “I don’t really like amusement parks myself, but the rest of my family loves them, so I’ll go to enjoy having the day with them.” It’s quite a different thing to convince ourselves that we enjoy something that we don’t actually enjoy.

Because the risk is that if we convince ourselves we’re having fun, but we’re really not, we may find that life feels more and more tedious, and we feel more and more drained—but we don’t know why. We don’t realize that we’re not having any fun.

It’s one of my Secrets of Adulthood: Just because something is fun for someone else doesn’t mean it’s fun for you—and vice versa.




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