Last week I was working out in my group training class when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I was stroking away on the rowing machine, half hating it and half loving it - like I feel every time I exercise. I saw a woman working hard. I saw a woman concentrating on her form and getting as far as possible down the imaginary river she was rowing. I saw someone who belonged in a gym. I didn't recognize her. Aside from the red bandana and the overtly American tank top worn half-ironically, that woman didn't look like me. She wasn't uncoordinated and fat and lazy. This woman was pretty badass.
I laughed at myself. It clicked. My Story about Me needed some fact-checking. In the chapter, "Exercise", the first line reads, "I hate exercise because I'm too fat and lazy to be any good at anything." Closely followed by, "People will laugh at me if I try." And yet here I was working out in a room full of other people of various shapes, sizes and abilities, including our very fit and handsome trainer and not a person was laughing at me. Or paying much attention to me at all. They were busy working hard. Just like me.
After a tearful ride home, which is fodder for another day, I told my boyfriend about my experience. I struggled to find the words to describe how I felt when I realized that what I have been telling myself for so long was utter bullshit. I felt like I was "home" and safe. I felt free and comfortable in my skin. When I told him that I have always thought of myself as lazy he laughed and said, "I have seen you relax sometimes but I would never call you lazy. You do a lot." He was right. I do a lot of stuff.
My story of Me was written long ago. It was written by my parents, advertisers, Disney, the Catholic Church, my teachers, my brother, my friends. Some silent editors lurked about the room while we penned this Story of Me. They don't show their faces very often, but they are omni-present for many of us.
Shame and Fear
Shame and fear are liars. They are not reliable narrators. Don't believe them. They want the Story of You to be small and easy. Fear and Shame write boring stories. Don't let them in your writers' room.