I went to the gym this afternoon. It was packed. We are only 28 days into the New Year, so people are still working out their resolutions.
I wanted to swim, but the pool seemed crowded. I didn’t want to encroach on anyone’s space.
So I hopped on the elliptical…and then on the treadmill…but none of it really interested me.
I wanted to swim.
I changed into my bathing suit and entered the busy area. For some reason, more men than women were in the pool area today. I instantly felt the internal battle ensue. How did I look? Was my bathing suit too tight? Was my hair out of place? Surely I wasn’t getting a pimple just now.
All I wanted to do was sink into the cool waters of the pool. I wanted to do laps and feel my breath deepen. I wanted to challenge my heart and my limbs. I wanted to practice moving in the water.
Instead, shame was taking over.
It’s the factor that makes me think about the thickness of my thighs over the fact I’m doing a sport I enjoy.
It’s the voice that says, “You aren’t good enough to be here. This is for the ripped, thin people.”
It’s the reddening of my cheeks, the averting of my eyes, the lowering of my voice.
It’s hiding away, not letting myself be seen.
It rears its head every time I do something new, put a fresh foot forward, or speak up for myself.
It tells me I don’t belong. That I don’t have a purpose. That I’m better off staying quiet.
Shame, be damned.
I got into the pool.
My awkward limbs worked their way up and down the full length of the pool. My heart pounded in my chest.
A guy sat on the stairs, next to the lane I was in. He said nothing, just waited.
I finished my laps. He ducked into the lane, taking up his own swim rhythm. He didn’t seem to mind me being there.
So, why did I have to mind so much?
I eased into the hot tub. Above the hot tub is a sign, which states the mission of my gym. It’s inclusive, nonjudgmental, and uplifting. They state, no matter where you are in your fitness level, you belong.
And there is no shame in that.
Love yourselves, friends. Be kind to yourselves in this coming week.
P.S. I have so much more to say about shame, but it’s 7:25 p.m. on a Sunday evening, and my 3 year old needs a bath.