In the past 24 hours two people I know and love have told me the same thing. Basically that I am totally capable of making the changes I need to make and that I need to stop complaining about how hard losing weight is. Annoyingly, they are both right. The reason I know they're right is because they said out loud what I have been thinking underneath all the talk of cake and cannoli. I have been attempting to rationalize something that doesn't need or deserve rationalization. It has totally been the voice of fear sneaking in and selling me all of the logical, rational reasons I shouldn't worry so much about going to the gym or what I eat. It has been allowing me to outsource my frustration and blame onto others who don't really deserve it. I am just as vulnerable as anyone else to the easy way out blaming others provides. My husband was upset about my previous post. He felt I blamed him for my weight gain as well as for my difficulty losing it. While he is a big guy who definitely needs to make food/exercise changes as well, I can't blame him for my own poor choices and lack of coping skills. He's not the one complaining about being overweight and weak and squishy. I can't make my self image problems his problem. That isn't fair and it also sets me up to get right back on my old, well-worn pathway of resentment, fear, and defensiveness.
Despite having been through many of life's trials and tribulations, upon looking back I have to acknowledge that many things have come easily to me. Maybe too easily. I never had to study to pass my classes and I have always loved reading and writing so school was never a scary, challenging place intellectually. I have always set goals for myself that I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, I could meet. Beginning in college and onto grad school I never doubted that I would graduate on time and with a solid GPA. Oddly, however, I have never been the type of student who gets caught up in grades. I never felt the need to get straight A's or seek external validation in the form of parent or teacher's praise. I have always gone to school and learned for myself, often forgetting about the approval of others. In fact, at times, I could be downright dismissive of what professors said because they simply didn't matter to me. I didn't see them as experts on pedestals, they were just people I had to work with because that's part of the deal.
Body-focused, physical goals terrify me. I played soccer, softball, basketball, and skied as a kid. I'm not sure what happened between then and now but all of my athletic prowess has disappeared. When I find myself attempting to work out on my own I am unfocused and self conscious. Even when at the gym I hesitate to do much other than treadmill or elliptical machines because I don't want people to look at me and wonder what I'm doing. I fear I will be exposed as a fraud, someone who looks capable from the outside but is really clueless and awkward. And, ultimately, not good enough.
I have been struggling so hard against something I have imposed on myself. There is no big bad wolf here, just me and my pal, Fear. So I've had to re-think some things. An excellent conversation with someone this week held a powerful truth for me about fear and failure. We essentially agreed that the only way to stop fearing failure is, in fact, to fail. To take risks in life that you know have failure inherently built into them therefore forcing you to first, experience failure and then learn to let go of it and keep going. Photography is one example - you know that if you are serious about photography, you are going to take a million pictures at any given time. You also know that out of those million pictures, 999,990 are going to be crap. As a photographer, you have to accept this probability and be okay with the notion that great things come from tremendous amounts of shit. Does that mean you are going to quit photography? Hell no. You're just going to keep on pointing and shooting until eventually, out of the million, 999,900 will be crap. Yay for baby steps!