When I was younger, through most of high school actually, I was so very excited about being grown up. When I went out to restaurants or to the mall, I would look at these perfectly groomed, fashionable, glamorous women in their twenties and feel so excited about the fact that one day I would be them.
That would be me, with gorgeously styled hair, tight black dresses, heels, manicures, and handbags, strutting around looking like I owned the world.
It never crossed my mind that maybe not all girls in their twenties are like that. Some girls run around in bare feet, with messy hair and toothpaste on their clothes. Who are unable to wear heels, and find manicures terrifying.
Obviously I grew up to be the latter. Sorry teenage me. I tried.
And as I do with everything that I am not, I love to mock these girls. Nicely of course, I just described many of my friends. But since I can’t possibly be them, not only due to time and money but basic laws of the universe, oh how I make fun at their expense. “How shallow they are!” I would crow, as if spending just as much money on unfashionable clothing really makes me any less shallow. “Look at them in their heels. They are ruining their feet!” As if buying shoes two sizes two small because I am too lazy to try them on makes me any smarter.
But the thing that I really made fun of was this: THESE GIRLS GO TO THE GYM. They exercise. Willingly.
Sometimes even for fun.
At 18, when people told me they went to the gym, I would laugh. “Why would you exercise? It’s not fun!”
At 20 I would look at them in disgust. “Only shallow people go to the gym”
At 21 I became high and mighty about it. “Why would you go to the gym? It is much better to exercise outdoors in the fresh air. The gym isn’t real exercise.”
At 22, after joining a few dance classes, I would simply say. “The gym is boring, dancing is fun. You should join a dance class. No? You’re boring.”
And at the age of 23 I joined a gym.
Because it turns out, the body needs exercise. Who would have thought? And since years of not doing any exercise at all, what with my aversion to going outside in anything less than 27 degrees, and my even stronger aversion to not sitting, I became unfit.
So I swallowed my pride. Payed my money. Realised I don’t own one pair of runners or pants, and nagged my mother into lending me hers. And went to the gym.
I’m not going to lie. I felt a little twinge of pride. I was growing up. Maybe I would become like those girls. I too would be glamorous. I too would wear heels and get my hair done.
Boy did I strut around this week.
That is, until I actually went. Stupidly, I chose to do a ‘body step’ class as my first one. First I was late, so ended up sprinting into the class and interrupting the whole thing. Then I realised that we weren’t just stepping onto the steps...a skill that took me a good 5 minutes to master. We had to do moves. Things like double right, side jump, cross-over and clap. It would be then that I tripped over the steps. Twice. Every minute.
A number of times I just completely missed the step. Put my foot up, realised it had landed on air, and had to go to great pains to not fall flat on my face while trying not to draw attention to myself.
Worst of all, everyone else was great at it. Even the newbies like me. I don’t know, are all girls just programmed to automatically know what ‘double cross-jump-side step-clap-turn-shimmy’ means? Why didn’t I get that gene?!
About halfway through, the instructor went from laughing at me to giving me odd looks. It wasn’t until doing the stretching at the end, when I was sliding off my mat and wondering why no one else was having the same issues, that I realised I had forgotten something.
I forgot to wear shoes.
I am so used to not wearing them at uni or work, that I forgot that they tend to be a social norm.
Especially when you’re at the gym and your sweaty feet are making you slide off of things.
Life lesson #10189439894723- Wear shoes in public. Just in case you need them.
And even more importantly:
Life lesson #10189439894724- Don't make fun of people for liking things that you don't, because more often that not you'll end up eating your words.