The male ego is a terrible thing. It sets one up with the ludicrous and impossible expectation of being better at all "important" skills than anyone else in the entire universe. Especially better than the girls. Especially better than the girl you're dating.
The only thing that saves us men from self-destruction is our sneaky ability to excuse ourselves from having to be better at certain things. We do this by rationalizing that the things we AREN'T better at are somehow less "important" or less indicative of our true personal greatness. It would be smartest to do that for everything; to get past the need to obsess and compare by saying, "Nothing you could test or measure really defines my greatness; I just feel that I AM great." But we don't typically go that far. We usually keep our pride staked in a few arenas where we feel relatively assured of rule, and that can get us in trouble.
That brings me to my story. The other day something caught me off guard and made me really scramble to protect my ego. It was finding out that my girlfriend is an expert in the martial art of Taekwondo. She is not just a "dancing around and kicking the air" kind of expert, either. She is an "able to break two triple stacks of boards at one time using downward blows of her palm heels, which none of the men at her level could even do," kind of expert. WOW.
The proper reaction for me, the one I want to have, is to simply be proud and impressed, and to feel lucky to be dating such a badass. That IS how I feel about the other things she's good at, even the other athletic things, like being a successful college volleyball player. For whatever reason I've never been a real sporty guy (windsurfing doesn't count), and I therefore haven't prided myself on traditional sports ability.
Strength, though, is different, because I haven't been smart enough not to pin a chunk of my male pride on it. So for my girlfriend to be so good at something that seems like the ultimate test of strength makes me feel awkward and unsettled, like I either need to go out and try to match the feat, which would be dumb, or I need to make a difficult change to my expectations of what I think I should be better at.
For her part, my girlfriend thinks I'm totally ridiculous to let any of this bother me. She points out that I am obviously "stronger," in terms of how big my muscles are, how I can lift heavier things, etc. And she points out that Taekwondo breaks, like golf drives or a softball pitches, are much less a matter of pure strength than they are a matter of learning and practicing a specific technique, then being able to focus and execute it with max speed and perfect form. Which means that, even with some strength advantage, I would have to get very good at Taekwondo to do the kind of stuff that she does. It would be tough and time-consuming, and there would be no guarantee of success given some of the un-trainable kinds of quickness and natural athletic coordination that seem to be involved.
Discussion Question: What do you readers think? Should I make a ridiculous, clumsy attempt to preserve a primitive version of my male ego? Or should I just try to evolve mentally to where it doesn't bug me? What would you do or have you done in similar situations?