I posted these photos on Instagram because, as an athlete, I’m often around other people exercising, aiming for fitness or sport goals, or in a sports class. Our goals, our aesthetics, our abilities, and our priorities are all different and I make a HUGE point to remind people that comparison is never a helpful tactic. But when I say that, I don’t just mean comparison to other people – what they have or don’t have, how they look or don’t look. . . – I also mean that we need to be gentle with ourselves…
Our own mirrors, cameras, eyeballs (!). . .can tell very different stories simply based on angle and lighting. Hell, time of DAY can make a difference too – did you just have a huge glass of water? Have you eaten three meals already? Are you a woman dealing with cyclical change?
Sometimes people say very kind things, but they say them in a way as if to put themselves down… That makes me crazy. We all have room for improvement, but we also all have a lot to be proud of. When we see images of people in “perfect” shape it’s easy to be hard on ourselves – because I’ve grown up in sports (which I consider a great thing!) I also have the side effect of always wanting to achieve. To – absolutely – my own detriment sometimes!
What we ourselves (a highly visual species) post on social media generally portrays the happy, the fun, the good, the ideal “stuff”…but not as much the rough patches, the blemishes, the mistakes. As with everything, we all have our own reasons for that…and tons OF them. For some of us, we look to one another for inspiration and motivation. We also like to share funny and personal tidbits along the way – we are connected to friends, after all. But it’s important not to forget the human element, and that there is more to what we see.
Lately, I’ve gone easier – I was down and out with a cold, I’ve been struggling with a back problem…it’s just been harder to push myself to the limit. BUT…I’m doing okay. I’m healthy and have a LOT to be thankful for (I’m serious, I could write a monster gratitude list off the cuff.)
Being off my game doesn’t mean I’m suddenly a horrible person or I’m not still doing a good job! I make little jabs at myself (NOT nice and NOT a good habit, ps – I work on that every day) but I’m never going back to depriving myself. Fortunately when I was doing that, I didn’t think I looked well at all, and it was not the result of wanting to change my figure. Still, that unhealthy propensity is there and it takes daily reminders sometimes that my own EYES can deceive me…just like yours and everyone else’s can.
Social media definitely doesn’t help that case so I think showing that appearances are easy to alter is a positive thing. It’s okay to post the good and happy and pulled-together…but just don’t forget that everyone has imperfections. Lighting and angles also play a big part – both for good and for not-so-good. We aren’t getting professionally airbrushed like celebrities in Vogue (well, maybe some are!) but there’s still room for focal shifts!
There’s an irony to this scenario, especially if you are an active person. This happens to me ALL THE TIME! Weirdest phenomenon, positively hysterical in some ways (a little disheartening in others)…and I think more common than people like to let on.
If you feel badly about having trouble with stairs…don’t! You aren’t alone.
Once upon a time I worried about what people thought. I worried about if they’d like what I was wearing, if I looked silly, or if the things I enjoyed weren’t “cool.” But it didn’t last particularly long, those worrisome spells, because I simply couldn’t mold myself to fit within the confines that others did.
Boxes didn’t work for me, and I made myself sick – in the short time I tried to care – trying to figure out what I was “supposed to” do, and “supposed to” be. Based on someone else’s definition, by the way. I was like a dodecahedron trying to fit into a triangular shape – I had so many facets, I’d make a gemologist spin, and the “mold” simply didn’t work.
I feel like that was fortunate for me, though. . .because I learned to just do my thing and be, unabashedly, my curiously off-beat self. It’s so much easier when you don’t have to squeeze yourself in to other shapes. It’s SO much easier being authentic than having to remember the details of the “lie” that you pretend to live.
The world doesn’t need more conformists…it needs the beautiful variety that all of us bring to life. It’s not only okay to be you, it’s what you, and everyone else deserves. If someone takes issue, that’s okay – that’s for them to worry about.
Do your thing, and be ridiculous if you want to. Even if it means wearing obnoxiously-printed leggings, leg warmers a la 1982, and Thundercat shoes at age 38.
Happiness is the heart of the beholder. ❤