This is the mantra I’ve been trying to live by more and more lately in both big and small ways. My self-esteem has long been MIA. As I’m starting to inadvertently recognize myself in moments of change and growth, I’m pushing myself to purposely push myself—put myself out there, try new and scary things.
To wit, last week, a friend convinced me to try a boot camp class at our gym. My understanding of what boot camp would entail boiled down to this: a ridiculously challenging hour of moving my body in new and uncomfortable ways in front of people I don’t know who would judge and stare. AKA one of my least favorite ideas ever.
For the most part, this class was exactly that. It was crazy hard—burpee after burpee after burpee (side note: at one point, my friend turned to me and said, “Lord, I hate burpees.” To which I replied, “Me, too. But you know what I hate more? Being fat.” Amen!) Also, I’m a sweater (as in, I sweat a lot. I’m not a warm shirt made of wool), and that was embarrassingly obvious during the course of this class. There also happened to be a fair number of men in this class. Thankfully they weren’t all that attractive, but they were men nonetheless. And the lights were on in this class, and the walls are lined in mirrors, and I’m not one who easily blends in with the popsicle stick gym girls. I felt incredibly on display and incredibly uncomfortable.
For about five minutes.
Everyone was there to work hard. They weren’t there to look good, to flirt, or to stare at one another. We were all there to sweat and challenge our bodies. And that we did.
While I definitely struggled with a few of the moves, so did everyone else. But, unexpected bonus, I had moments of feeling proud when I noticed myself running faster than skinnier girls and picking up heavier weights than some of the guys.
As I was walking out after class, a girl stopped me and informed me that she had been admiring my body during the class. Okay… She started talking about how all the women in her family are shaped like me, with the big butt and hips. She continued on for a few moments, making me feel more and more uncomfortable. Then, she stopped and said, “Basically what I’m saying is that once you reach your goal, you are going to have the most bangin’ body. I know plenty of women who would kill for what you’ll have.”
My point in all of this is twofold: first, people don’t think about you nearly as much as you think they do. And if they are thinking about you, it’s not necessarily always negative. Maybe they’re just admiring your soon-to-be bangin’ bod.
Secondly, and on a related note, always, always do the things that scare you most. Whether it’s a boot class at the gym, tackling an overwhelming project at work, or finally being able to make eye contact with strangers (more on that later), simply taking some sort of action rather than continuing to worry and analyze always pays off. Always.