It’s with some trepidation that I begin a blog post talking about Tina Fey, Lindsay Lohan, and Mean Girls.
But that Tina Fey, when she’s on, she’s on. And lately I’ve been struck by that vision of poor Lindsay, in her pink, borrowed, Izod, walking through the first day at her new school cafeteria, clinically categorizing the students at each table. “Girls who eat their feelings. Girls who don’t eat anything. Desperate wannabees…” You get the picture. In one scathing, piercing satire of high school life, she nailed it.
What I’m going to say might sound a little harsh…but look around. Has anything changed since high school? I’d like to think so, but the other day I had a great conversation with a young journalist from Columbia College in Chicago, and she got me thinking. She had a premise, that when most people see overweight men or women, they think LAZY. Period. I got to thinking that we all judge, though, and not just on weight. See a mother with her kid losing their shit in Target, and we think “Wow, parent, much?” Catch a colleague not washing their hands for long enough in the bathroom and think “Piglet”. (Or is that just me? I have a germ thing.) Anyway, despite the fact that we’ve all been taught to be wary of judging (from such wonderous sources as The Bible – “judge not lest you be judged” – to Simon Cowell – “really, what were you THINKING?”), we still do it. Why? Because, we have been given the gifts of sight, critical thought, and experience, through which to analyze life. And thus, whether we want to or not, we draw conclusions on what we see. So maybe it’s Judging. Or maybe it’s just Applying Our Life Experience.
Either way, none of us likes to be judged. But sometimes, it happens. Or we perceive that it happens, because we’re overly concerned, perhaps, that Lindsay is just around the corner, classifying us, and putting us at a table we don’t like. And then what do you do? How do you respond?
I’m asking because I think many of us who are just getting started with exercise again struggle with this issue. I know I do. On Saturday, I went out with my running group and hauled out my walking poles (or, Nordic Walking poles, now that they have “official” little rubber feet). People were curious, and people were interested. And mostly, I didn’t care that I wasn’t running. And yet…..in a teeny, tiny part of me, I kept thinking “I’m really a runner. This is just a recovery thing. I’m a runner….I’m a runner.” I was anticipating the Judging, and a little part of me felt like I was being pushed from the Runner Table to the Walker Table, and I was fighting tooth and nail to stay put, poles and all.
It surprised me a little, to feel how much difference that made for me, when I know that I preach to y’all every day that all that matters is moving your butt. But I guess even I’m human, and though I could normally claim Runnership with flying colors, I can’t now. Normally, I can also hang my Size 20ish hat on the fact that I’m a pretty kick-ass athlete, but even I’m struggling a little with the feeling that I’m Different right now, and having a tiny pity party about it, too.
So what do we do about that? What can I do? Well, I can take my own medicine. And I can move on. Because, as I’ve said here so often, it really doesn’t matter what other people think. It only matters what we each do, on our own time, to take care of ourselves. And right now, it doesn’t so much matter what I call myself (runner, walker, crawler) as much as how often I have a right to call myself an athlete. As I build back up my endurance and a regular pattern of working out, I can’t get hung up on feeling like I should be at a Runner Table or a Walker Table or any Table. Right now, I’ve just got to concentrate on getting back into this great habit of using my legs good, not evil (read: walking – and not to the grocery). And what better way to do it than though goofy-looking, but wicked calorie-burning Nordic Walking (ahem, and burning some extra FORTY PERCENT more calories!)? It seems like the best plan for me…Judgment be damned.
So I suppose that’s today’s lesson. Suck it up. And focus on what’s inside – not what’s pressing in from the outside. For me, that means the only thing that matters is getting out there again tomorrow.
See you on the path.