There is this funny thing that happens when you start to do something that you previously thought you wouldn’t be able to do. It shifts your whole perception of yourself, turning thoughts of I can’t do this, into not just I CAN do this, but I WILL do this. But there is a lot that goes on before you even take that first step into the gym, and in a lot of ways getting yourself to the gym in the first place can be harder than the actual pain of the workout.
I have experienced this to some degree with myself, but especially with a number of my friends, who see my active lifestyle and my drive – which has always existed in some form or another- to get outside and be healthy, and immediately say, “I could never do that.” When I try to get them to come hiking, running, or even to CrossFit with me, their immediate reaction is, “You don’t want me to come with you, I won’t be able to do it.” They disregard the fact that I am an extremely slow runner, love to stop for water breaks, and am always the first person to run out of breath. They know this about me, but have still convinced themselves that it’s not worth even trying. Instead of trying to get better at something, they would rather sit at home than let another person witness them struggle. And I get it. Have I talked enough about how I am almost always last to finish a WOD? And everyone else in the gym is standing around me, and even though they are saying “You can do this! Keep going! You’ve got this!” I can’t help but sometimes think, “These people must think I am so slow.” And that feeling sucks.
Somewhere along the way, and for a lot of people I think this happens really early in life, we reach a point where we are convinced that we aren’t worth the time and effort that it takes to be healthy. Not only are we told that it’s selfish to take personal time or to advocate for ourselves, but for most of us it gets to a point where we’ve neglected ourselves for so long, we feel like it’s not worth it to even try. And the concept of putting yourself out there is terrifying. For me, this happened in the weeks leading up to my NOLS trip, a month-long canoeing and backpacking trip I took in the summer before my senior year of college. I had never canoed before, and I was (am) a ridiculously slow hiker. I had been all excited when I signed up for my trip, but in the days leading up I was so anxiety-ridden by my thoughts of how I would slow everyone down that I almost dropped out. When I got on the plane to head to the Yukon, I was so nervous that I was crying. Not scared of bears, or worried that I wouldn’t be allowed to use toilet paper for 30 days, or afraid of breaking my leg 100 miles from civilization – I was worried that people would think I was slow.
The picture at the top of this page made me start to think about people’s perceptions of what they are capable of, but also of what they are worth. “You are good enough” can mean two very different things. It can mean, stop trying, you are as good as you are going to get. But I hope that if you are reading this and thinking, This sounds like me. I want to be that healthy person, but it’s too late/hard/ridiculous to start now – I hope that “You are good enough” can mean something different. I want it to mean, You are good enough to advocate for yourself, to trust that your friends will be excited to wait for you while you sweat your way up that hill, to get up early and go to yoga even though you can’t touch your toes (I can’t!), and to start believing that you’re worth the effort.