I thought I’d go to the gym today, so I dressed for it. Most of the battle is just getting there, so I figured I’d help a girl out by putting her in the right shoes, bra, clinging sporty pants. I did what I could, though I’m still inside, writing at this computer, in my coat. Everything is set to go.
I went yesterday. A meathead trainer stopped me on my path to an elliptical machine. His head was shaved bald, and all his questions sounded like statements. "What are you doing here today," he said. I turned to look behind me. Did he want me to answer or was this rhetorical? "It’s my job to find out if you have what you need." I blinked this time. "What are you working on today." Now? Should I answer now? Or did he just want me to blink some more. A smile, maybe?
"My heart," I said. He nodded and walked away. This was satisfactory. Then I mounted the machine after turning myPod to my newly acquired Self-Esteem 4-disc set. I’d never worked out to a lecture before. New things. My favorite part, without question marks, was about something I’ve already explored. Ironically, I explored it and had the realization while writing my JAPS post, where I noted:
We always hate in others much of what we detest of ourselves. I’m chewing my fingers now. I mean, why else would I respond so vehemently when faced with a hand on hip jap? Maybe I hate how jappy I can be. Maybe that’s what I hate about myself sometimes.
Many people point a finger and say, "My God, who wears that?" or "My God, why does she write about such intimate things?" or "She’s clearly screaming out for attention!" It stops being a question and becomes a judgment, with an exclamation point. And when it’s a judgment, you should ask yourself "is this my self-esteem issue?" Because it is. I’m being true to myself, opening myself up to judgment, but when I get the nasty email or comment, I remind myself, it’s really not my issue. It’s theirs. It’s hers. It’s his.
When I look at the outfit she had the guts to wear… if I begin to think, "who wears that?" I realize, sometimes, I’d answer, "I wish I could." Would it mean having a better figure, more nerve, what? That ability not to care, to be confident no matter what anyone else thinks, that’s self-esteem. It’s part of it. The part I’m doing pretty okay with. But I have a long way to go. I’ve stopped needing the external praise, stopped caring one way or another about how the masses will respond. My self-esteem issues are more intimate. They’re smaller than that, in a big way. They have much more to do with jealousy and insecurity when it comes to someone I’m dating. I’m working on it, but it’s nice to know, "I love you even with all that." I’m hoping he won’t have to. And that is a fucking bear for me. But I’m trying. It’s harder than the gym.
I get asked by other writers, bloggers, journalists, how I feel about, how I handle, the hate or the criticism. If it’s genuine criticism it comes in the spirit of kindness and good intention, with an obvious sentiment to help me improve or consider things in a new way. Hateful remarks or judgments like, "you’re as jappy as they come," or "want to try something new for the new year, try killing yourself" come from fear or the hate they have for themselves. I know I sound like a self-help tape; I don’t care. I’m not perfect, either. I judge and lash out, usually about the things I don’t like within myself. I’ve never lashed out at another blogger, been hateful, even when provoked. Really provoked. It’s not about high and mighty or some higher road. It’s not. It’s about taking the time to let it settle in, without reacting straight away. Then understanding what it’s really all about. And for a change, it’s not all about me.
People can’t be afraid they’ll be seen as braggy, or you’ll feel embarrassed and afraid of the consequences, if it’s what your critical self needs. It’s why I do what I do, despite all the shit I take for it. Because in my heart, the one I’m working on, I know I’m doing what I need to do. Period.