For most of the weekend, I learned about anatomy and fitness at a workout studio nearby, training for a certificate in teaching this style of workout class. As you can imagine, the type of person (read: woman) who attends the workout classes I go to in this area are generally of a homogeneous strata: white, thin, 40-somethings with enough money and time to spend on an expensive workout class.
The training was lead by a similar trio of women and was attended by a set that generally matched. Of course, there are the exceptions that make the rule, the fuller bodied woman, the brunette, the two POCs.
But I told J as I was heading to the training this weekend that I was feeling nervous, like I didn’t really belong. The women generally wear rocks that you could scale and sport the trendy half-solid, half-mesh yoga pants with a name brand. And I felt weird. I felt like the posturing odd duck.
When I began going to these classes nearly 10 years ago, I felt much the same way. For a while, I held my discount clothing-store outfit as a point of pride and designation: I’m not like you.
But over time, I am coming to realize, in many ways I am like them: I’m coming for a good workout and to feel supported in my “practice.” And while wearing less pricey clothing is something I still may choose to do, perhaps I can stop showing up with deodorant marks on them! Because that mark is simply a way I’m trying to say: a) I’m not like you, and b) I’m approachable because I’m not perfect (like these other women appear to be).
I don’t need to distinguish myself away from the group in that way. It’s just an artificial way for me to put a wall between us that I don’t need to raise.
I have stories in my head that tell me, “We grew up differently.” They grew up with a deep-rooted confidence that they were loved and supported. They grew up with Tahoe trips and private schools. They walk today through the world with a sense of belonging, and a sense of expectation that others will implicitly accept their belonging.
I have stories that tell me that I did not grow up this way. That I had foundational flaws and cracks in my own development that mean I am fundamentally different.
But. I really don’t need that story anymore. Frankly, it doesn’t quite matter how either of us grew up—we’re grown ups now. Grown ups get to choose how they want to present themselves in the world, but more importantly, how they feel about themselves.
I don’t want to wallow in “Compare Despair” when in conversation with others, particularly as it comes up more frequently here in this more affluent community where we’ve moved.
They’re not “making” me feel less than; I’m choosing that. Which is totally f*cked.
We ALL have our hills to climb.
But even if they don’t, even if my story is that these women have every advantage and privilege on Earth, how *I* choose to be in the world, how *I* choose to perceive myself will be a much greater indicator of my happiness than anybody else’s view.
View myself as “less than,” and I’ll feel less than. View myself just as I am, however and whatever that is, then I’ll get to remain more open, more receptive, and more connected to the world around me—even the blondes.