Hey, did you pass a girl on the street crying in SoHo last Friday? Not a big deal, but it was me! When I started this blog I promised I’d be honest about my life, even the embarrassing parts. Which is why I knew I had write about last week and the emotions that overcame me.
Here’s the set-up: I don’t like going to group fitness classes. They make me anxious, nervous, and extremely self-conscious. Group fitness classes take me back to middle school when I was uncoordinated, a little chubby, and not at all athletic. I remember one particular day when the PE teacher made us dribble a basketball from one side of the gym to the other in front of our classmates. It was torture. Basketball is my least favorite sport and DEFINITELY takes too much coordination. I felt awful, but like I always have, I played it off like I didn’t give a shit. When I was younger, I’d rather take some heat from my teacher for being disruptive, than look like a fool.
Now I am nearly 31 years old and I get the same anxiousness before a workout class. My stomach turns into knots, I often think I’m going to throw up and not make it in. My heart rate is already up before I enter and once I do, I am overwhelmed. Often, my hands shake so badly I can’t lock the locker properly for a few minutes. I glue my eyes to the floor. I do not meet new people. I hate the mirrors that reflect how terrible I am at every move, how stiff my hips always are, how my knees fold in. I am never good enough.
And that’s usually what my lack of comfort with working out in a class format comes from, I never feel good enough. And I am immediately sent back to me at 13 years old. It’s so strange to me because I have overcome almost every other aspect of my younger self that held me back. I was terribly shy in social settings, now I can walk into a bar and meet new people. I was afraid to share my thoughts and now I am at my new job making mistakes nearly every day but still coming in and being vocal and brave. I am trying to be sure of myself. And that’s relatively new for me. I post my poetry on the internet for all to see, instead of squirreling it away like I have for 20 years of my life. I have changed. But this one thing, these fitness classes, brings it all back.
I kind of resigned myself to working out at home for the rest of my life. I take the occasional class, but it takes effort and an incredible amount of planning. For the class last Friday, I went and bought brand new $75 workout pants because I needed to feel prepared. I signed up for an early morning class and was ready to go.
But then I left 10 minutes later than I should have and the subway took 20 minutes later than it should have. I arrived on the street of the class 1 minute after start time. Could I have gone in and tried to negotiate my way in? Maybe. But I couldn’t face the rejection, I was so afraid they’d tell me no. That I didn’t belong. I know it sounds totally mental, but this is how I was feeling. I had failed. And then almost seemingly out of nowhere, I started sobbing uncontrollably on the street. Because of a workout class. At first I wanted to suck it up and tell myself I was overreacting. (Omg you are so spoiled, you are crying over a workout class.) But I realized it was so much deeper than that. It was everything.
It was the feeling that I had gained weight over the past two months. It was the feeling that I hurt my back because I was afraid to go out and have my form corrected. It was the feeling that I had again wasted money. It was the feeling that I was again late to something. It was again that I am not good enough. It was again that I had failed at bettering myself.
That’s a fucking lot to take in, right?! It WAS a lot so the best thing I could have done for myself was tell myself that I wasn’t overreacting. I corrected that narrative. I was allowed to feel sad for all those things and it was a normal reaction. It eventually calmed me down but I felt terrible almost the entire day.
I’m sharing this because I had forgotten. I had forgotten how much I carried around on a daily basis. I forgot how much YOU carry around on a daily basis. I forgot about all the negative things I say to myself every morning. I forgot about just how debilitating real anxiety can be. It reminded me to be gentle with my friends or family when they’re afraid to do something new or challenging. It was a wake up call for me in many ways.
So hey, if there’s something makes your chest heavy, your hands sweaty, your heart pound, reach out to me. I may not be able to fix it but maybe I can go with you or just talk to you. I’ve been there, and sometimes a gentle voice on the other end of the phone is all you need to take a step back. And remember, you aren’t overreacting if you’re in pain.