Monday, October 31, 2016

The Cute Girl at the Gym

How many of us feel, on a normal day, that we look good? How many of us feel like we'll pass but get no high marks? How many of us think we look like we rolled out of bed at 2 a.m. with one eye sealed shut by sleepy goo and the other one wide open with the pupil dilated for no good reason all day? If you're like most women, you fall in the middle. You feel okay in what you're wearing. Your hair is fine. Your make up, if you chose to wear make up at all, doesn't look like it was done by a three-year-old so, yay! Overall win for you! What about when you go to the gym? Yeah...totally different story.

Every time I go, I look at myself in those huge stupid mirrors on the other side of the room and hear this little voice in my head that says I don't belong there. Because, you know, the gym is for skinny beautiful people who really just go because they're narcissistic and like to watch their muscles flex in those evil mirrors and make kissy faces at their own reflections. Before you tell me I'm wrong, I'll beat you to it by saying I know that is not the case. Always.

I went to the gym tonight for the first time since getting my heart monitor on three weeks ago, and boy did my body feel it. I was sweating, my round, bean shaped face was red, I was panting like Tom Hiddleston had just come in the room, I had a bandana on my head to cover my sweat-drenched hair that makes me look even more balding than I really am. I mean...messy, gross, and not feeling all too great about myself. But I was there. I kept telling myself that. I was there, and that mattered.

And then I saw her.

Here I am, this four-foot-eleven-inch tomato doubled over on a glutes machine as I try to push and extend, the wheezing coming out of my mouth reminiscent of a chain smoker on her death bed, and this petite little blonde girl walks over near my station. She's got the classic all black ensemble of skin tight yoga pants and black sports tank. Her hair (which was totally dyed, I'm sure) was curled in that way some women can do, making it look effortless and natural even though it would take me at least five hours to get it done right and then it would fall pin straight five minutes later. Her make up was done beautifully and she had ruby red lips that glittered when the unnaturally bright lights above her caught the top coat of gloss she'd applied at one point.

I hate you, was the first thought that ran through my mind, subsequently and immediately followed by, I hate myself. For once, I was able to get my thoughts out of that dark place fairly quickly and direct them to a more healthy place: back on the girl. What? It was healthier for me at the moment. I scowled at her with my inner Gremlin, thinking, Really? You have to come here looking like that when the rest of us feel like gross piles of slime? I actually stewed in my irritation for the rest of the thirty minute circuit I was on, watching every male head turn in her direction when she passed them, blissfully unaware. It wasn't until I was driving home that grace tried to edge its way into my heart.

Once upon a time, I had a friend who could not do anything menial without looking cute. I mean, cute outfit, cute hair, full on makeup. She literally could not leave her apartment if these things were not in place, and it was because she had so little confidence in herself. I was one of the lucky few to see her without all her trappings (pun fully intended) and got to see how vulnerable, uncertain, and uncomfortable she was in her own skin. When she was all done up, even to go do laundry, she was a totally different person. She was sure of herself, funny, easy-going. Remembering this friend made me wonder if this cute Barbie-esque girl at the gym was like that. My friend was, and still is, gorgeous. This girl was gorgeous. But I don't know her struggles. Maybe she does have issues with confidence, maybe she doesn't. Either way, I had no right to assume the things I did about her, and I should not have compared myself to her. I shouldn't compare myself to anyone, because no one else is me, and no one else is walking my path.

As annoyed as I was by her presence, I'm actually really glad I saw her today. Not only will she be something of an inspiration for me to keep going to the gym and working hard, but she served as a much needed reminder that what we see on the outside is not always what is going on in the inside. I think that's a reminder we could all use from time to time.


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