Try something new...like paintball.
For the most part, it’s fairly easy to say, “Let’s try something new.” The execution of that statement however, is usually where it ends. The good intentions of trying something different to break the monotony is often met with distraction, interruptions, or ultimately a very real lack of effort to make it work. Luckily for me, I have a group of friends that when we put our minds to doing something new and different, its generally met with “when” or “let’s make it happen” as a response to trying something new...like paintball.
Our friend Becky turned another year older this past week and for her birthday we (Myself, Julie and Becky) and about seven other friends embarked on a “Let’s try something new” birthday extravaganza. What ensured was a combination of whelps, bruises, victory, defeat, some mud and a little bit of blood.
We met up at a place in Hattiesburg, MS called Eagle Action Sportz where the sport of paintball reigns supreme. Off a major highway, Eagle Action Sportz sits the middle of a field touting three separate courses. I would love to say they were categorized as “beginner” “Intermediate” and “Expert” but after diving in, it wouldn’t have mattered what category they were. Each course had its separate barricades used for cover. There was one with blown up inflatables, one with makeshift walls with windows to shoot out of, along with a slew of tires and pallets. The third was a short field with large culverts (we did not venture into that one).
The staff was very helpful and knowledgeable and luckily for us, we were able to rent all of our equipment there, so we didn’t have to go to the local hardware store or sports academy and drop a ton of cash to play. We split into two teams and started on opposite sides of the field. The ref yelled “3..2..1 GO!” and we were off.
Now, when I say, “we were off” I mean that in every sense of the word. The start kind of caught us off guard and the five on my team split in different directions and each took cover. For me, I went for the plywood wall (I thought it was safest). The barrage of paintball fire hitting the corners of the window I kept trying to look out of however, was quite frightening for a beginner. I composed myself and made a run for a stack of tires. I made it safely only to get grazed by a rogue bullet on the shoulder. Now, according to those who had played paintball before, it was said to be painful. I didn’t realize at the time, I had only been “grazed” not truly hit, yet.
The first hit came on the second game we played, I made my way around to the left...’flank’ I guess (I should have watched Band of Brothers before writing this). I was in a shootout with a member of the opposing team, we were both really good at missing each other when I thought, let me look over here. I turned, and unbeknownst to me, my foot up to my calf was exposed. I was pegged, right in the Achilles. It STUNG. In fact, it stung a lot. I was thankful I was by myself so no one could hear my school girl ‘yelp’ when I got hit, and I was equally thankful I had a full face mask on so no one could see my face grimace. The pain did subside though, the next game, I had my revenge. Oh, who am I kidding, I got lucky, those paintballs were flying around like mosquitos in August.
We played several more games and each time I found myself, getting more and more comfortable with both the weapon and the surroundings. What was really awesome was the camaraderie we were also building during this entire event. We were pretty much on equal footing, all basically new beginners with a few who had played, but it had been a while. There was adrenaline, action, laughter and everything else you’d come to expect from an outdoor event and everything you’d hope to get out of a “Let’s try something new” scenario.
In the end, I'm not going to lie, I wanted more. I wanted to jump back in and see how far I could get through the course and how long I could go in a game and not get hit. It left me wanting more, which led me to reflecting on the event, how awesome it was and how thankful I am to have a group of friends that are willing to jump in there too and just go for it.
Granted, paintball isn’t for everyone, just like CrossFit isn’t for everyone or (Whatever-other-thing) isn’t for everyone. BUT, the idea of “Let’s try something new” IS for everyone.
With that being said, I feel there are some steps you can take to make the “Let’s try something new” work. As I mentioned in the first paragraph, these things usually do not get very far off the ground. Hopefully, these steps can help you move out of the “I wish” world and into the “I will” world.
STEP 1. Get your people involved. You know who they are, and they know who they are. They are the ones who are with you and have your back. Who have an awesome time no matter what the context and the ones you always want in your corner. Besides, it's just MORE FUN to do things with a group filled with like-minded individuals. So, step one, get a group chat formed and start STEP 2.
STEP 2. Research. There is a big world out there, with so many things to do in it. From indoor events to outdoor events, to hiking, biking, cooking demos to Art shows, there is literally something for everyone. I would suggest start local and branch out from there. Trust me, once you get the first “New” thing done, you will want more. Next thing you know, you’ve got a cruise booked to a tropical location, a flight booked to Australia or a road trip planned to the Grand Canyon. Again, I suggest start local to get some experience to what works and doesn’t work. Also, as it relates to your group. Becky said it best when we were discussing who all was coming to play paintball. She said, “With the group that will be there, I don’t see how it would not be fun.” In other words, don’t invite Eeyore off Winnie the pooh. Neither should you.
STEP 3. Commit to it. It’s so easy to say, “that sounds so much fun” or “we should try this.” I see folks all the time commenting on Facebook or Instagram posts with the comment “We should try this” or “This would be so much fun.” or simply “This” to a post about something that looks really cool. I say, quit living vicariously through a social media world and get out there and experience it for yourself! It’s really sad to think someone only experiences life through reality television or through a post on social media. Commit to it. Commit to making your own fun, and your own memories. Book the flight, pay the deposit, put it on your calendar, mark “GOING” on Facebook. Commit to it and do it.
The last thing I will say here is for parents and those who feel they cannot do anything unless it involves the kids. I am not sure when it started, and maybe it’s a culture thing where we live but I often get asked “When do you have time for X” or “I couldn’t do that, I have kids.” All I can say to those statements is that’s a lie you are choosing to believe. First off, your kids will be fine if you take a day and spend some time for yourself. There are plenty of days at the ballfield, swimming pools etc. that you must be there for them. One event, every so often without them isn’t going to kill you, make you a terrible parent, or make your kids love you any less. In fact, I would think the opposite would be true. You would have something to talk to your kids about, get them invested in new experiences themselves and be a leader in their own group of friends that is willing to say, “Let’s try something new” and actually go through with it. As my pastor says often, “I don’t know who that was for, but somebody needed to hear it.”
So, get your people in a group chat, research what you want to do, commit to it and try something new...like paintball.