Ok, so this is a post unlike my usual ones, but it is something that I think is important to share, because it’s something that has been an issue for me for quite a few months.
Basically, I swim in my local gym. I really enjoy it &, although every now & then my attendance slips a bit, I try to go 2-3 times a week. I love it, the feeling of weightlessness that comes from being in the water, the refreshed feeling, the fact that it doesn’t make me sweaty(!), and also the very pleasant limb heaviness & satisfied feeling that comes after a workout.
My issue, however, is the changing room. Like most gym changing rooms it’s a locker room with benches. Now let me put this in perspective for you – I am a nurse who changes clothes in a locker room twice a day, but that is different, because it’s outer clothes, if you get me. There’s no underwear removal involved. In the gym though, there is an underwear issue. There is also the trying-to-remove-the-swimsuit-and-put-underwear-on-while-attempting-to-keep-a-towel-up fiasco that happens every time. I see other women in the locker room all the time with the body confidence I’ve longed for; who just drop their towels & get dressed with not a fig given for who’s looking or what they think, no matter what their size. (Just to clarify, I don’t spy on the other women but sometimes it’s it’s impossible not to notice!) Usually after my swim, the locker room is an anxiety-ridden nightmare of me trying to get my swimsuit changed to underwear & get dry while practically holding my breath. & if God forbid, someone should glance in my direction, I get almost rigid with fear.
So. How to solve this issue. Because I do love swimming; it’s amazing physio for my bad hips while being low impact, & I really enjoy it. My options are either to huddle in the cramped toilet cubicles to get changed while trying not to drip on my clothes, or to stop swimming, not gonna happen. Yesterday, while in the locker room getting changed & trying – quite unsuccessfully – to hold up my towel & hook my bra simultaneously, & ignore the woman beside me who was quite happily rubbing moisturiser into her chest & stomach with her towel around her waist, I realised that it was purely ridiculous what I was doing. I resolved that when I went for a swim again this morning, I would be confident, I would be better at being a functional member of the human race.
On to this morning – so I had my swim & was wrestling my plastic swim cap off my head (I hate that thing by the way, going back to the cloth ones immediately) when I remembered that I had promised myself to be body confident for the first time in probably my whole life. Normally I would just chicken out, because that is what I do in situations like this; I hold my breath until I can get the hell out of it & then convince myself that next time will be ok. Next time. I am all about the next time. But you know what, I have spent my whole life like this, & very recently I have been doing a lot of evaluating of certain things in my life that I really need to change, such as unhealthy friendships & pleasing people because I feel that I have to (more on that another time!). This recent evaluation of my life & actions has led me to this point, & I could not face fobbing myself off again & again. No more next time. This is this time.
This time, I got into the locker room, I got my towel & clothes out & went about my business. I kept my eyes away from anyone else, tried not to mentally count how many people were in the room, & dropped my towel. Now, not in a burlesque, dramatic type of way, but just in a my towel is around my waist while I get my top half sorted kind of way. I just thought about the quickest way to get dressed, & didn’t worry about the logistics or who was around. & you know what, no-one batted an eyelid. No-one looked, no-one commented. In fact, I don’t think anyone even noticed! Except for me, I felt amazing. I felt more confident, I had done it once & there had been no repercussions, no problem with what I was doing. & now, well now, I feel a lot better about myself. That one single, simple act has really made me feel better about myself.
& it’s so silly, you know. So ridiculous that one simple thing could have been such an element of stress in my life. I mean, it’s not like I was changing in a place that I shouldn’t have been, where you wouldn’t expect to find semi-naked women! I cannot believe how much better I feel now that I have made that little victory. & that’s exactly what it is – a little victory. So, if you are in any way like me, & the thoughts of something like this causes you that chest-tightening, breath-stealing anxiety that it caused me; please know that it is such a good feeling to let go of that. To stand there & think, you know what, no more am I stressing over this. There are enough hurdles & obstacles in life without sweating the small stuff. Seriously. Take that leap for once, as big or small as it may be to you. You will feel amazing after it. Trust me.