I've been CrossFitting for a long time. On and off, for several years now.
Recently, a new CF gym came to my town, FINALLY!!!
All day yesterday, I could not hardly sit still with the fear and anxiety I felt of going to a brand new gym that night. Would the people be nice? Would they all be hard bodies who had been exercising regularly for years? Would I be the only fat person? The only slow person? What if I make an ass of myself?
For all of my life, no matter what the subject, no matter what my fear or excitement level is about something, there is always something or somebody that intimidates me to the sidelines. And that's not their fault, it's mine. I'm the one who is allowing my insecurities to build the walls. But here's the thing: I DIDN'T KNOW THAT UNTIL YESTERDAY. I'm going to be 30 this year, and I didn't understand why this kept on happening to me. Whether it's the gym, dog sports, fishing or hunting, camping trips, school, sports... it doesn't matter. I go into it and either I'm the fattest/slowest one there and it distracts me to the point of leaving, there is somebody I know from the past and it freaks me out to the point of leaving, there is an attractive guy there who for some reason I develop a mini fantasy crush on and it intimidates me into leaving (which is Just. Ridiculous. I'm married and NOBODY holds a candle to my gorgeous husband!)
It's just life in general. The fear of being judged. The fear of never being as good as the person next to me. Did you know that when I walk into a lunch room, or a class, or even CHURCH, I feel like all eyes are on me and every single person in the room is just picking me apart like a pack of hyenas. It's not a very pretty way to live one's life.
All through school, like all the way back to the 3rd grade, I have been one of those lone wolf types. I was always chosen last in gym class. The most dreaded words that a teacher could say for me were "Alright, partner up with somebody..." because oh em gee, nobody is going to want to partner up with ME. I've always been my own worst critic, my own worst enemy. Nobody has ever judged me the way that I judge me, and I think that's true for a lot of folks, especially women.
So back to CrossFit. I had already begun to prepare myself for the attack. The attack that doesn't actually exist anywhere except within my own head. The level of anxiety that I had built up was cause me to feel numb and tingly down into my limbs. I thought I was going to pee my pants.
Then I reached my breaking point. I was sitting at my work desk trying to shake off the body numbing anxiety (about something that I should be totally excited about) and I said, out loud, "Stop f*cking doing this to yourself! STOP IT." I took several deep, cleansing breaths. I jumped on Google and started looking at some CrossFit inspiration. I found a blog that held a video featuring an inspirational speaker. And here's what I learned:
Our entire lives are based on connection. Connecting with others, something I've always had a problem with. She, the speaker, said that during her research, she discovered that the people who have a strong sense of connection, have the courage to be imperfect. And my greatest fear in every situation is people seeing my imperfections, so I spend all my time trying to hide them, which explains my struggle to connect with others who are participating in the same things that I am! I should have a ton of friends with the same interests! But I don't because I allow myself to be intimidated out, I waste my time trying to hide when I could be connecting.
So yesterday, when I walked into that brand new CrossFit gym, which was already packed with very fit, very attractive men and I discovered I would be the only female in class that day, the only fat one, the only slow one, I went in and let it all hang out. My first thought was to turn around and run away, but I remember what this speaker said and I marched in there and I refused to allow myself to feel shame about the tire around my waist that nobody else there had. Or the fact that I only achieved half the number of rounds as the rest of them, There was no shame because I allowed myself to embrace that vulnerability, and that fear. This is me. You don't have to like me. Only I have to like me. And because I went in with this attitude, I had one of the greatest experiences of my life! I FELT no shame. I FELT no fear. I laughed and I CONNECTED with these strangers around me as we all pushed ourselves to the brink, side by side. I supported them, and they supported me back.
This experience and knowing that so many others out there battle with this same internal struggle makes me desperate to share this inspirational speaker with you. Listen to it or don't listen to it. It's twenty minutes that I believe could change somebody else's life. Twenty minutes put a huge dent in something that I've spent nearly thirty YEARS trying to understand about myself. I am not affiliated with her, she doesn't know I exist. I'm just filled with gratitude that maybe now because of her, I might be able to reach goals that I've been chasing for over a decade.
Near the end, she says something that I ended up printing out so I could hang on my wall. Stop catastrophizing what might happen (which I am an expert at) to stop and say I'm just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I'm alive. I'M ALIVE, and there is NO shame to be found in that!