Our 12 year old started swim team for this summer. Practice is every day at 7:45. Since we are at the Y for over an hour, I thought it would be a great time to spend some time exercising. However, since I have the two little girls, the only form of exercise I can get is swimming laps in the pool (no child watch that early). Let me say that I am NOT a swimmer….well like a “swim for exercise” swimmer. I’m more of a float around and soak up the sun swimmer. But, I really am motivated to get myself in shape, so I decided to use the time to better myself. Yesterday was my first day in the pool. I walked in and was totally intimidated instantly. But, I pushed through and didn’t compare myself (too much) to the people around me. Not even the 70 year old woman who was twice as fast as me. I swam 20 laps (with lots of stopping in between) and felt pretty good about myself.
I woke up this morning with that soreness that lets you know that you actually did something the day before. I was determined to walk into the pool with confidence this morning and push myself a little bit more. When we arrived, there was one lane open in the pool. The middle lane. Right in the middle of the “real” athletes with their caps and goggles and swimsuits. So – did I just jump right in and do my thing? Heck no! I sat on the bleachers and waited until the slow lane opened up. So much for feeling good about myself. Finally, the end lane opened up and I worked up my nerve to get in and start working toward my 20 lap goal. After a couple of laps I had stopped worrying about the world record swimmers around me and was focusing on myself. On lap 9, I noticed that the two male lifeguards (maybe 16 years old) had some secret inside joke that had them both cracking up. Of course, I KNEW they were laughing at me. Maybe it was my granny swimsuit. Maybe it was my inability to make it all the way down the lane in under 2 minutes. Perhaps they were laughing at my attempt at the breast stroke (which probably looked more like a I was drowning, rather than exercising). Why did I automatically assume that they just had to be laughing at ME? I am a strong, successful woman! I run a household of 7 people. I run my own classroom. Why was I letting these boys make me feel so insecure?! I felt like I was thirteen again…when I was so insecure and was certain that people were talking about me and making fun of me. I felt like that awkward little girl with the big, thick glasses who people laughed at and called names. Why was I letting myself believe that they were making fun of me. And IF they were, why did I even care? All I was trying to do was make myself better by working to get in shape. It didn’t matter what these two children were laughing at! I hate that I automatically retreat back to those hurtful, awkward times when I had ZERO self confidence, and preferred to be invisible. I’m not sure what it says about me that I can be reduced to feeling so poorly about myself so easily. But I do know that I need to dig deep and explore the whys behind those feelings.
There is a positive to this tale. When I felt like I was being laughed at and made fun of, I wanted to quit. I wanted to wrap up in my towel and sit in the locker room and cry. But I was only on lap 9 and I had set a goal for myself. I was not going to let the senior citizens who were swimming twice as fast as me, or the adolescent lifeguards who were laughing at me (probably wasn’t even about me) derail the goals I had set for myself this morning. So I did what I have learned to do best. I fought. I battled through. I finished what I started. I only wish that I could be thirteen again, so that the fighter in me could show my 13 year old self how strong I really am.