Saturday, February 20, 2016

Normal?

I've been thinking about this a lot, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm not normal sometimes.

I spend a lot of time on social media, and I see a lot of pictures and things that my friends post - vacation photos, engagement photos, pet photos, wedding photos, child photos. And don't get me wrong - I love seeing them. I love seeing what's going on in my friends' lives, and since I'm not always comfortable just striking up a conversation, their posts make it easy for me to stay updated without, you know, the actual talking part. So please understand, I am not judging their lives.

Rather, I'm judging myself. Because sometimes I look at their photos, and I know that, while I'm very happy for them, it turns out that I have zero interest in some of these things for myself.

For example, while I have nothing against the idea of marriage or weddings and I'm happy for all my married friends, I have absolutely zero interest in getting married myself, and I definitely never, ever want to have a wedding. I look at other people's wedding and engagement photos, and I appreciate their happiness and their beauty, but aside from that? I feel no pull of longing for that myself.

I'm an introvert and a homebody, and even just being at a dinner party means that, when I get home, I will be holing up in my room alone for the rest of the evening. Forget ever hosting a party myself, unless I make sure there's a quiet corner for me to hide myself in.

I used to want to have a slim figure and a six-pack, but now the idea of trying to lose weight holds zero interest for me anymore. Even the 10 pounds or so that I would need to lose to drop down to the next weight class below me just makes me shrug my shoulders. I'm never going to have a "desirable" body type. I'm not a "hot girl," and I'm okay with that, because there's no point in turning heads anyway if most of the time, I'm like, "Don't look at me don't look at me don't look at me."

I suppose this is how other people feel when they talk about not wanting kids. I have actually always wanted lots of kids, but then again, am I a normal mom? I see how the other kids - and their parents - look at me when I show up to pick up my child from school. Kids that I don't know know that I'm Jolie's mom, with the multi-colored hair, tattoos, and muscles.

I'm not insecure about myself, but I do sometimes wonder how I ended up the way I did, hardwired to want certain things and not to want other things, especially if mostly everyone else I know wants or doesn't want the opposite. I wonder why I apparently ended up not normal.

I understand that conformity is overrated. I get that. I also get that social media is a curated look into other people's lives, and that maybe every single person I know thinks of themselves as at least a little bit weird.

But I can't help wishing that I was normal sometimes, you know? My life would be so much easier. I would fit in better, talk to people more easily. Maybe if I wanted the same things/cared about the same movies and tv shows/listened to Adele/could more easily ignore problematic kyriarchal media, then I wouldn't walk around feeling like, "ME, I'm a weird one. I have ISSUES."

But then I just wouldn't be me, I guess. I would not be living authentically. And I'm not saying that everyone else is not being authentic - I just feel like my authentic choices somehow ended up completely different from most other people's authentic choices. And I understand logically that that's okay, but... I still feel the unease of being different.

So, again, while I'm not insecure about it, exactly, I do struggle with it. The more I know about other people's lives, the more I realize that my life doesn't seem to measure up quite the same way. And I worry about myself because of that. But I'm also deathly afraid of not being my authentic self, whatever that means, so what's a girl to do? Obviously, I will keep on keepin' on, but... is there anything that eases this feeling? Will I someday be 80 years old and still feeling like I'm not normal?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Unpopular opinion, I guess?: Do better, Sports Illustrated


Sports Illustrated decided to depart from their usual cover girl type and put plus-sized model Ashley Greene on one of their three covers for their annual swimsuit issue. While this is a momentous step forward, I can't help thinking, It's 2016, you guys. Take a bigger step!

I'm not here to criticize Ashley. Or any of the cover models. A little progress is better than no progress. But you know what's better than a little progress? More progress!

Ashley Greene, at least, is a true "plus size." Apparently it's only in the modeling world that a size 8 or 10 is considered plus-sized; Ashley is a size 16. You go, girl! Again, this is a big deal, and I assume that making this decision was a big deal for SI.

But that's just it - it's 2016, and the discussion around body positivity and beauty has progressed leaps and bounds, but putting a plus-sized model who is otherwise conventionally beautiful, conventionally feminine (long hair, no muscle outlines), conventionally shaped (hourglass figure, narrower at the waist, with proportional hips and breasts), and conventionally everything else (young, white, able-bodied, etc) except for her size... well, that's a little progress.

It's as if they were only allowed to change ONE thing - it's as if they were doing a tightly-controlled scientific experiment where they were only allowed to have ONE variable. No, we can't pick a model is a plus-sized AND a person of color. No, we can't pick a model that is plus-sized AND has muscles. Dude, I've seen Ronda Rousey's abs - they are amazing-looking. I know the body-painting thing looks cool, but why not show off her abs?


Oh right. The mainstream world probably doesn't consider her amazing abs as conventionally feminine. And showing off your muscles does not cater to the male gaze.

Also, don't get me started on the fact that these three women are sharing covers. Maybe I'm doing a bad job at assuming positive intentions here, I don't know. Maybe they really DID want to have "something for everyone." One plus-sized model to appear progressive, one popular athlete to appear relevant and "sporty," and one "normal-looking" model for everyone who can't handle anything beyond the mainstream.

But look - I don't subscribe to Sports Illustrated. I've bought a few issues that featured favorite athletes, but I'm not a regular reader, so I don't know what their MO is, or what their company line is regarding their swimsuit issue. (I've also never flipped through their swimsuit issue, so if I am indeed judging a book by its cover, and all the photos inside are totally, widely diverse in many different ways and breaking down all sorts of barriers, then feel free to disregard what I've said.)

Maybe they are absolutely shameless and open about the fact that they only intend to cater to (heterosexual) men (nevermind the fact that there are many, MANY female sports fans), and that the swimsuit issue was never intended to be anything more than a way to make money and to offer up some one-handed reading material. In that case, there's nothing more to say, and no more changes to offer, because we're kind of at an impasse.

But if ya want to feed me a line about how they're trying to celebrate bodies and how "beauty is not 'one size fits all,'" then really... I think they could do better. Case in point: I look forward to ESPN's Body Issue every year. This issue showcases nude athletes in all their glory. Yes, some of the photos feature seductive poses, but they also feature poses that are powerful and awe-inspiring, or fun-loving and carefree. They feature men AND women, all body types, all range of visible muscle, and they really celebrate the athletic body.

(Nude body warning, for people who can't handle that sort of thing...)
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Monday, February 8, 2016

The problem with limitations

Not a whole lot to report on my end, which is why I haven't updated in a while.

I've started major preparation for my powerlifting meet coming up in March - I'm doing the FULL meet this time (rather than just one lift), so I've got a lot more work to do.

But this time, we've got a crew! There are three of us who are actually competing, plus a few more people who just want to follow the powerlifting program rather than the regular gym programming, so it's nice to have people to commiserate with, because truly, these last two weeks have been really difficult for me. For this initial part of the program, we're lifting at high volume, and for me, it's especially grueling because I set new 1 rep max PRs right before I took time off for the holidays/being sick, so coming back after a few weeks off with brand new percentages (which translates to heavier weights) means that everything is harder than I'm used to, and I have to hit those numbers for more reps than I'm used to.

It doesn't matter if people compliment me on my strength, because right now, everything feels hard, and I feel weak. And I'm not saying that out of self-pity; it's the simple truth - it doesn't matter how strong I am or how strong you are, because if you want to improve, you have to keep pushing your limits and going heavier, heavy for you. It doesn't matter how strong I am, because the percentages I'm working at leave me feeling drained and sore every single time.

In the meantime, I'm also training for the runDisney Pixie Dust Challenge in May. This training is difficult for a different reason: after all the running I've done in recent years, this should be no problem, except that I'm coming back from an injury, so my endurance is shot to hell, and I have to be really careful with my knee. I need to run more so that I can build up my endurance, but I can't run too much or too hard, lest I aggravate/inflame my knee. Maybe this is a fool's errand, but I'm determined to complete these two races, determined to recapture even a fraction of my former accomplishments and abilities. But I also know that there's that part of me that will never be happy unless I put up a good time for my runs, even though I'm clearly nowhere near PR shape.

I'm in a total struggle with my limitations right now. With lifting, it's a struggle for me to keep pushing my limits out further and further, and with running, it's a struggle for me to respect my limits. With lifting, it's a struggle for me to keep trying and to keep believing that I'm capable of so much more, and with running it's a struggle for me to deal with my current ability level, knowing that I have been capable of so much more in the past.

So yeah, it's been a frustrating couple of weeks, to say the least.Especially this last week, as we really hit the ground running with this program - I've been tired and sore every day, and I also haven't been able to run in a full week because my knee has been stiff (not hurty, just stiff). So I'm not even doing all the workouts I should, because I had to skip my runs this week, and if I'm THIS tired now, how are things going to be when I have to add my running back in too?

I've been having a lot of "What even is the point...?" moments, but I know that, bottom line, I will keep at it. Because the point, of course, is that deep down inside, I actually really love all this, and the main limitations I'm struggling with anyway are not the physical ones, but the mental ones.