It’s funny how you can appear and how you actually feel. I used to think I appeared confident and together, even more than that I felt confident and outgoing. I worked in women’s fashion retail and loved the interaction with customers and helping them find clothes that made them feel good. I thought I understood and empathized with all types of people and that even though at the time I wasn’t a mom I knew how it felt to be tired, have your body change and to not have enough hours in the day (I didn’t have a clue). I loved my job and was confident with any new hobby I took up (hell I bought myself a Harley, took lessons and then rode with Fraser to Bella Coola on my first big bike trip).
Fast forward to present day, 3 kids later and 3 C-sections in the last 3 years and my confidence is a little rocked. Parenting is tough and new. As for put together, I am lucky if I am clean… which seriously is my goal each day. Shower, wear clean clothes and stay clean. Somehow I have become a human towel for all bodily fluids from all three kids as well any food they eat and anything else they find or use (like toothpaste, play doh, dirt, etc). Gone are the days of beautiful fabrics and expensive clothes, hand washing or hanging to dry everything (and I literally mean everything! Who puts Hanky Pankys in the dryer, those panties are $25 a pair and require delicate laundering ), or even blow drying my hair and wearing long necklaces and fun earrings. I have started to do all sorts of things I swore I would never do when I had kids, and I’m fine with it. However, my standards have changed and so has my confidence.
In an effort to embrace a healthier lifestyle, get active and maybe even drop a few LBS and fit back into my beautiful clothes I have joined a gym. Just joining and having to step into a class was challenging. Making the choice to get up and out of the house on time is tough, then throw in the fact that it’s to go do intentional exercise (I would much rather be going to the spa or taking an extra hour of uninterrupted sleep), sweat in front of people, and do things that I feel completely out of place doing. I can’t say I love it but I do think the workouts are amazing, I love the feeling I get after a workout and I love the attitude and energy that both myself and my partner have experienced since we have joined. He has definitely lost weight and gained confidence, energy and positive attitude. I love what it has done for him and am so proud of his commitment. I on the other hand have had a different reaction.
I have not yet experienced these benefits. To start I struggle with what to wear to the gym (like is my outfit too tight? will I get too hot? does my top match my runners? why are all runners so colourful now? should I buy runners for practicality or looks? Will everything stay in place when I’m working out, or will my top flip up, shorts ride up, hair come undone, boobs flop around….) as you can see I probably over analyze a bit, but in the moment these seem like reasonable concerns. Then once I am there it is the issue of where do I stand? And do I know anyone? I mean I could go on forever but you definitely get the idea.
Today I had a realization and it was only because an old customer was in my class and she didn’t recognize me at first. I immediately said to her “Oh its because I don’t belong and I am out of place”. It was a terrible and wrong thing to say but at that moment it was true Everyone belongs at the gym, it is such an inclusive place. Plus I am going there to get fit, so the excuse I’m not in good enough shape to go the gym really is like when I say I need to clean before the housecleaners come (defeats the purpose). After some reflection I realized I need to change my attitude and embrace the gym the way Fraser has. It is such a welcoming space and the only person that is holding me back is me. I am not myself when I am there and it because I am lacking confidence and so nervous. It got me thinking about people and their reactions and attitudes depending on surroundings. I definitely consider myself genuine and the same no matter where I am. But since becoming a parent I do notice I am “off” or not myself sometimes depending on what my kids are acting like, who’s watching and how I feel that day. Its often the same at the gym, because I am stepping outside my comfort zone I am so busy thinking things in my head that I forget to be present and be me.
I had thought if I went to a couple of classes and made it a regular routine I would become more relaxed and comfortable. But each class is different and I don’t feel like its routine, in fact I love that it’s always dynamic. I think if I change my attitude about it and embrace that it is a challenge and things that are hard are often the most rewarding I will start to see the benefits that Fraser is experiencing.
The funny thing is it reminds me a lot of being a parent, because in many ways being a parent is a big blow to the confidence. In the almost 3 years I have been at this parenting gig I have been humbled by my children and learnt selflessness that I never knew possible. I have also experienced a new level of self doubt and concern. When I am most true to myself we are all most happy and it is usually in a familiar place (most often at home), with just the five of us (safe, no judgements) and we are just playing and having fun. As soon as we leave and there are expectations, whether it is my own expectations or expectations from society or peers or family, I start to loose my confidence and my true self. Reality is we have to leave our comfort bubble and challenge ourselves, so best to figure out the easiest way for you to do that and embrace it.
I am going to try to remember to stay true to me and be myself, even when I am feeling self conscious or like I don’t belong or fit in. I won’t let my negative thoughts stop me from getting my ass to the gym, because it makes me feel good, gives me energy and shows my kids that fitness is important. I am really going to work on trying to keep perspective and a sense of humor about things.
How do you overcome fear or self doubt? Do you stay true to yourself and your character in moments of doubt? Would love to hear what works for you.