Why the Hell am I So Bad at Ice Breakers?

a penguin next to a mammoth ship

“Ice-breaker”

I don’t know why, but when I think of this term, the first image that comes to my mind is a completely flushed face, extremely cold hands, and a racing heart—all mine.

For those of you who aren’t aware of what these are, I envy you and then offer you a little bit of Wikipedia wisdom:

“An ice-breaker is a facilitation exercise intended to help members of a group begin the process of forming themselves into a team. Ice-breakers are commonly presented as a game to “warm up” the group by helping the members to get to know each other. They often focus on sharing personal information such as names, hobbies, etc. Ice-breakers are also used at social gatherings such as parties to introduce guests to one another in situations where they may not know one another.”

Sounds pretty harmless, doesn’t it? 

A bunch of strangers, going around and telling everyone a little tidbit about themselves. This doesn’t even have to be personal information, which is just the icing on the cake I need. 

Yeah, okay. I am good. Bring it on.

And out comes the ball exercise variation of the ice breaker, which is just the same as above, but with participants passing a ball around to catch, after sharing their tidbit. You would probably say, what’s the big deal?

And here is the explanation:

This object is the stuff of my nightmares. Nightmare exacerbated by plenty of childhood memories with laughing kids surrounding me (or at least that’s how I imagined it). 

All because of my stellar hand-to-eye coordination playing catch. Always. 

The curious thing about this particular deficit is that I never improved. My skills playing catch are at the same level as when I was four, maybe. If anything, they have worsened, thanks to my questionable physical agility and lack of attachment to any outdoor sports. The scores from the most recent frisbee game I played are a testament to that. 

Unsurprisingly, I had the rock bottom scores – even when the co-players were aiming for the frisbee to land right into my hands. For my self-esteem, I suppose.

So back to the ice breakers.

Here’s how a typical one goes:

A: Hi, My name’s A. I love playing soccer.

Me (thinking): Oh God, he’s gonna throw the ball to me.

A throws to B

Me (thinking): Thank goodness! Please throw to someone else now, Not me , not me , Please!

B: B here, I love philately

Me (thinking): What a show-off, Philately! Not me, Not me, Please not me!

B throws to me.

Me (thinking): I am not gonna catch it, I am not gonna catch it, I am gonna make a fool of myself, everyone is gonna laugh, why the hell do they have to use balls in ice breakers? I will quit this today. No one will talk to me after today’s debacle anyway.

Sure enough, the ball grazes my nails and heads for the sky. I am no Usain Bolt. I run for the first two minutes and then walk to get it back (all the while telepathically begging it to stop and help me out).

After a walk of shame, I return to my spot in the circle.

Me: I am me. I do not fetch right.

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