This is dangerous territory, where someone like me typically dares not tread. I mean, for one, who wants to look at their gnarly, mutant, never-been-pedicured toes? And secondly, when you’ve struggled most of your life with body image issues, to the point of eating disorders and exercise addictions, knowing that number can…(understatement alert!) royally mess with your head.
And yet I marched into the bathroom last weekend and stepped up onto the dreaded measuring device — and into a substantial collection of dust — as if pulled by some irresistible, mystical force.
You know shit is 🤬-ed up when a former anorexic/bulimic starts seeking solace in the scale.
The last thing the professor asked us to do in our orientation session Thursday night was go around the room and share one word that described our feelings about the upcoming semester — our first as “Cohort 9” in Delaware Valley University’s three-year MA in Counseling Psychology program.
It’s actually my first as a student, period, since the start of this century. 😳
Anyway, the other noobs were like, “Nervous!” “Overstimulated!” “Ready!” And your trusty wordsmith over here blurted out… “Summit.”
It wasn’t an adjective (still isn’t, actually). It made no sense outside my own head. So, true to form, I took up more than my share of allotted time, explaining myself to the group.
All I could think about during the 3+-hour session was the slow climb to the top of the big drop on a roller coaster — clickety clickety clickety 😳 — and that crazy-making anticipation of the terrifying free fall to come — clickety clickety clickety 😰.
You can’t turn back. You can’t get out. You have no control whatsoever. And you know you’re going to get thrown completely, wildly, out of your comfort zone. 😱
I’m so afraid of this exact scenario that I rarely even go on those coasters.
I was “running” — I have to put it in quotes; that’s how far I’ve fallen from my own standards — so slow on Saturday morning that I was able to take the attached, crystal-clear picture in mid-stride.
Not sure if that’s a sufficient illustration of rock bottom, or if I should tell you about the time a few weeks ago, when I huffed and puffed my way to the top of a hill in the park, and I felt so awful that I stopped “running,” and doubled over and grabbed my knees. I was wheezing so loudly that a dude walking his dog stopped to ask if I was OK.
I’m not proud to admit that I took my frustration out on this poor Good Samaritan.
“I’m fine,” I snapped. “It’s hot out. And I’m not in good shape.”
I turned in a huff and started back down from whence I came, my descent mirroring the trajectory of my physical fitness over the past three months.
There are dense clumps of cobwebs stretched across my memory banks, particularly in the pre-2019 era, so I can’t recall the exact details of the day when I officially became a video reporter.
In my head, it went something like this:
“We’re shutting down phillyBurbs.com [where you’ve worked as an online content writer for the past four years]; either take this camcorder and go shoot high school sports stories [which you’ve never, ever, ever done before] for the newspaper’s revamped website, or…seeya!”
I took the camcorder. That was 2012, and, by my calculations, it marked Major Life Change #4 for a young print journalism major from suburban Chicago.
Today, I’m on the threshold of #8.
Does that mean I have only one life left? 🙀
If everything goes according to plan (🤞🏻🤞🏻) that’s all I will need to reach my ultimate goal.
“If I’m ever late, alert the authorities; there’s been foul play.”
They could put that on my tombstone. I mean, hopefully they won’t; I’d much prefer natural causes, but you know what I mean. If I have anything close to a catchphrase, it’s that little nugget of brilliance. 😏 You might’ve even heard me say it, back in the days we used to go places, when I showed up somewhere like an hour or more early. (Thanks for humoring me with the polite chuckle, BTW.)
Punctuality is actually listed among my professional skills on my resume. It should probably have a “hyper-” before it.
Come to think of it, hyper is putting it mildly, considering the intense physical reaction I had those two or three times in my life when I thought I might be late for something. Still have nightmares about driving to the Atlanta airport on the early morning of Christmas Eve 2000, that fateful day the alarm in my Macon apartment didn’t go off and I ended up with only 15 minutes of wait time at my gate. 😱
You know how people ask, “What would you do if money wasn’t an issue?” as a way of getting at your true goals?
As a little kid, I would’ve replied, “Cover the Cubs for the Chicago Tribune,” except I thought being a reporter was, in fact, a stable, well-paying job that set you up for a comfy life. 🤣 I also had no clue that life as a pro sportswriter was 90 percent waiting around to talk to dudes who just stepped out of the shower and were, like, actively trying to avoid talking to you. 🤣🤣
My gut said, “Write books,” but I only verbalized those words as a kind of pie-in-the-sky “reach.” Even in a childhood characterized by creative invention, I had trouble imagining such a free-wheeling, left-to-your-own-devices lifestyle. How would you support yourself, just sitting there and writing?
You had to pay your bills. You needed a “real job.” Dreams were cool, but money was an issue, and despite my youth, I somehow understood the importance of setting “practical” goals. Middle class kids who wore clothes from Venture had to pick something “safe.” Dreams were for the rich kids with a built-in safety net!
That’s how I thought, and it probably explains why it took me until age 42 to start thinking about my true purpose and how I might go about pursuing it.
I think I might have figured out what my dream is, and instead of throwing up a bunch of knee-jerk “reasons why not,” I’m sort of actually allowing myself permission to say, “Why not?”