Author Archives: alexmonc

About alexmonc

A 20-something trying to make it in the world through humor.

The ‘Ick’ Factor: How To Not Please Everyone & Do it Well

If you’re a person, chances are you know someone that no matter what, you just can’t make them happy. Or, if you’re really lucky, you could know several.

I’m finding that the older I get, the more I see that I am the captain of my ship and dictate how I can respond to these individuals. Seems pretty simple in theory, but could be much more difficult in practice. Why? Well, let me tell you a secret, I’m a recovering People Pleaser. I know, I know. Deeply rooted in my own issues that date back to probably elementary school bullies was that nagging sense that I had to please everyone and be liked by everyone. I still struggle with the feeling that I want to be liked by everyone, and I’m thinking that I’m not alone in this. To be frank, knowing that someone else is not happy with something I’ve done- even when I’m trying my best- feels icky and I just don’t like sitting with that feeling. But, the thing is, sometimes you have to, because you literally cannot please everyone and some cannot be pleased at all.

Does this sound like something you needed to hear? Good, me too. When it comes to responding to people that cannot be made happy no matter how many times you do a headstand and spit out wooden nickels (anyone else’s Grandma use that old adage?), I’m finding that the best thing to do is just stop.

Yup, just stop. Even if it feels icky.

If you’re unable to find some common ground, stop trying to please them and do what you think and feel is best. Not only is this person using up their own energy, you’re letting them use up yours. This is energy that can be spent in more productive, adaptive ways, rather than spinning your wheels and gears for someone that won’t do the same to meet you half way. I’m finding, especially in my social work career, that if I can balance trusting my gut with doing what is the most ethical and well-intentioned, I’m usually on the right path. This can- and does!- ease the ick factor.

Now, when I say that you should stop, I’m not saying you should be rude. You can agree to disagree, hold your ground politely, or disengage- depending on the scenario and your relationship with the person involved. Sometimes I practice the art of ‘hold my ground, be polite, keep the conversation moving, get the hell out of there’- in that order. Whether it is professional or personal, I’ve been trying to be mindful of this and practice it when I can.

I’ve made a pact with myself, and I guess now with my blog readers too, that I’m going to reduce the negative energy I expel or feed into and really make an effort in nourishing the positive energy. I’ve heard that this can help increase that thing that everyone is talking about… I think that they call it “happiness”. Maybe you’ve heard of it? In all sincerity, sometimes you have to work at happiness and for me, this is a big part of it.

So far, so good.

 

Hospitals, Boxes, & Bachelorettes, Oh My!

So, here’s the deal with the deal.

Life has been really not so fun lately but I’m doing my very best to put on a smile and hope for the best. The great Mindy Kaling said, “Sometimes you just have to put on lip gloss and pretend to be psyched.” I hate lip gloss, so for me let’s say that I put on my volumizing mascara and do my damnedest to serve up that illusion of being psyched.

A few of you have noticed that I’ve been vacant from my blog and that’s pretty frickin awesome, so thank you for noticing my absence and actually reading my shit. My cousin even brought to my attention that Netflix is releasing yet another piece on mental illness (this time anorexia) on July 14, titled “To The Bone”, and let me know that she hoped I’d watch and review through my social worker lens as I did with “13 Reasons Why”. That pretty much made my life and I totally can’t wait to watch it in hopes that it isn’t another glorification of the “manic pixie dream girl” shtick. But more on that after the 14th.

So if you’re wondering where I’ve been, or even if you know where I’ve been but are reading this anyway, I’ll break it down. A couple of posts back I had mentioned that my boyfriend is sick; he’s still sick and will actually need surgery for a second biopsy in just about two weeks. Let me tell you, it’s really painfully easy to get lost in the internet and somehow convince myself that I’m an M.D. and that everyone’s dying. In reality, the internet has the power to make even a paper cut look fatal and I’ve got an M.D in bullshit. <sarcasm> So, with that said, things are going just great. </sarcasm> I’ll try not to worry until I have to because there are a ton of other things going on that I can throw myself into in the meantime…

Like work! Work has been super hectic. We are opening up another affordable and supportive housing program about 15 minutes away from my site and it is the biggest project that my agency has taken on yet! We have a bunch of our clients that will be moving into this project because it is permanent housing (my site is transitional housing and rehabilitative support) and a less restrictive setting. With those people moving out, we have been doing lots and lots on intakes for new clients to move into our program (Yo, I heard you like intakes so I got you some intakes to go with your intakes!) so that they may begin receiving our services and eventually, hopefully, move on to a more independent level of care.

I also turned 26 last week! So that was… fun? ((I’m totally lying and freaking out and the existential dread is looming)) That’s all I’ll say on that.

Aaaaaand, as if I’m not completely overwhelmed, I’m moving in 27 days. Thank the sweet lord that I work in a residence because the one thing I have enough of right now is BOXES. Sleep? Don’t got that. Energy? Nope. Motivation? FUCK no. But boxes? This I got. Everyone keeps asking me if I’m moving in with Matthew and let me clear this up for the 67th+ time: I WISH. He still lives upstate and is still waiting to take a promotion to NYC parole through the dept. of corrections OR (which I don’t think he’s jazzed about anymore since finding out he could take the promotion test and go work in parole) the NYPD. He will, however, be taking a leave after his surgery so I’ll get to spend more time with him!!! I’m truly looking forward to being able to go over there and see him whenever I want or vice versa. I’ll never take that for granted ever again. I’m also just trying to just be patient and remember that in (almost) every single scenario where things didn’t work out how or when I wanted them to, they wound up working out how I needed them to. So, basically in the meantime of all this craziness, I’m taking a 2 year lease on a super sweet apartment (with an in-unit washer/dryer, which we haven’t had in OVER EIGHT YEARS) and splitting the rent with my momma bear. My sister lives with us too, but she’s away at college a great deal of the year. If you’re not from Long Island, and I know I’ve actually had some readers from other continents even (THANK YOU!!!), trust me when I tell you that this is the smart financial decision. Times be tough in suburbia but at least we know how to have a good time.

For me, when things are hectic and I feel a little lackluster I need to try to find things to look forward to and be happy about. I feel like this is generally good advice, and I would likely advise my clients to try to do the same thing. This move, although stressful, is definitely one of those things keeping me going. The apartment we live in now has a lot of negative associations and painful memories and I have been desperately craving a fresh start from that.

Another HUGE thing to look forward to? My best friend is getting married on October 20 and her bachelorette party is in less than a week! To say I’m looking forward to this would be an understatement. We are renting a house by the beach so we will be going to lay in the sun, visit a cider house, go to a nice dinner, and most importantly, stir up some shenanigans (because what kind of a bachelorette party doesn’t have shenanigans?!). I have some surprises up my sleeve as well… ::insert evil laugh here:: MWAHAH. Yeah, yeah, yeah, everything is going to be dick themed. You caught me.

Anyway, there was definitely more I wanted to share today but I’m losing steam and I’m hungry.

Thanks for catching up with me! I’m sure as the weeks go on I’ll be wanting, and frankly needing, to write more.

 

 

On Getting Out Of Your Own Head

Is anyone else out there unjustifiably hard on themselves? Welcome to the club. What’s your jacket size?

In all sincerity, stop that. I’m willing to bet that everything– well, maybe almost everything– you’ve thought negatively about yourself in your own internal monologue is just that: internal. I’ve never realized how much of my own insecurities can’t be seen by others. But I’m gonna go ahead and share some because why not? I hope it helps at least one person feel more sane.

So, I for real think I have imposter syndrome. I’ll save you the Wikipedia search.

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome or the imposter experience) is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. The term was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.

I know that might sound ridiculous but hear me out. A lot of the times I really don’t think I deserve to be where I am even though logically I know that I work my ass off and really care about my career and more importantly, the specific job I have now and my clients. But the main thing I’m insecure about? My age. I feel like people look at me and question my competence because of my age. I’m younger than almost all of my coworkers and, like I said, some people may be reading this and thinking “Girl shut up about your youth” but it really is something I think about all the time and makes me really insecure and you don’t get to choose your insecurities.

But then it hit me. I recently was talking to a coworker who asked me how old I am and when I told her I’ll be 26 this month she admitted that she actually thought I was older. She didn’t think a damn thing of my age. She didn’t think I didn’t deserve my job because of my age. She didn’t think I was incompetent because of my age. It was my own internal issue. Now, I’m sure there are people out there that may think I’m incompetent because of my age, or really for whatever reason, BUT the moral of the story is this: Not everyone thinks that. It’s probably in your head.

Another thing I tend to do to myself: obsess over my “timeline”. I had an idea of where I thought I would be by 26 and surprise: I’m not quite there yet even despite the things I have done. I look around and see people that are also my age and we are all over the map– some, quite literally, are travelling the world while others are going back to school, graduating, getting engaged, some are newlyweds, and others have been married with kids for some time. Many are doing a few of these at the same time even.

In the age of social media this is not a new, radical concept, but you just CANNOT, CANNOT (one more time for the people in the back), CANNOT compare yourself to others. It could make you feel invalidated or unhappy for inane reasons. So I’m here to tell you that I get totally insecure when I open up Facebook, and if you feel that way too, well, let’s go get a cup of coffee or something.

Some people I graduated with are married and/or have the cutest little kiddos running around and I find myself getting a little upset that I’m not there yet. I look at their pictures and their statuses and to be real and frank, sometimes I get jealous. But then I realize how silly I’m being– I’m not even ready for those things, and I know this to be true. It’s so easy to get in your own head and lose sight of your own reality.

When my sister graduated high school, she decorated her graduation cap to say “enjoy the journey”. I loved it. It’s simple and, albeit cliché, it’s important. I mean, clichés are clichés because they’re true and used often. I wish I could remember more to enjoy the journey, tell my inner monologue to shut up, and never lose sight of my own reality. The truth is, this is going to happen in life. I’m going to lose sight of that. I’m going to compare myself to others and I’m bound to feel like I’m failing at adulting one way or another in the future; the way to make it happen less often, however, is to be aware of it and to be present enough to practice mindfulness and enjoy that journey for what it is.

Am I Paranoid Or Just Really (Really) Bad At Being Optimistic?

An optimist sees the glass as half full. The pessimist sees the glass as half empty. The realist sees that there’s room to add more vodka.

I’m not clever so I didn’t make that one up. I saw it on Facebook recently.

Today I’m worrying extra about my boyfriend and his health. I don’t think he would appreciate me writing about his personal life on here too much but he also supports me in using this page as an outlet so I’ll try to balance this delicately. Essentially, he has been very sick and is waiting on biopsy test results. I’m sure he would tell you that the procedure itself was the painful part, but for me of course the waiting for results is the painful part.

Now…. maybe I’m being paranoid here. Maybe I’m just really really bad at allowing myself to be optimistic… but I did the one thing that most people will tell you NEVER to do: I Web MDed myself into a deep hole. I mean DEEP, you guys. A hole so deep that I feel like at any second Buffalo Bill is going to come around and tell me to put the lotion in the basket.

That was a bad joke. Forgive me.

I didn’t always used to be a pessimistic, nervous, hypochondriacally charged person. I feel like this started for me a few years ago when I experienced the first major loss of someone in my life– my paternal grandmother had an aneurism, which triggered a stroke. Her passing was unexpected. It was the most painful thing I had ever experienced. That was when I realized how temporary everything is. This is also when my anxiety peaked. In 2015 I experienced another major loss. My maternal grandmother, who was essentially like a second mother to me and was there almost every single day of my life, was brought to the hospital for what we though was the beginning of dementia. She was gone exactly a week later. It was lung cancer that had metastasized to the liver and the levels of ammonia in her body, caused by the metastatic cancer, was creating the dementia-like symptoms. To this day I can barely think about her without crying. I don’t think losses get any easier over time– you just become used to the pain and the longing of missing them and you learn to live with that. You continue to grow around the loss, accommodating for the space it’s left in its wake.

I’ve had other losses since the loss of my grandmas; my grandfather, my stepmother’s father, a client, and unfortunately two of my coworkers as well have passed over the last two years. It never gets easier. I adapt to the loss and do my best to keep moving forward and grow around the loss.

Part of growing around these losses, especially the unexpected ones, leaves me in this paranoid and pessimistic limbo. I always find myself getting much more worried when anyone close to me is sick than I used to. This is not to say that I used to not care or worry, of course I did, but this worry feels like more of a pathological worry. I hate to use this word, because in some way I feel like it doesn’t have a true meaning, but for lack of a better way of saying this I’m going to say it anyway: This can’t be ‘normal’. Can it? I think I tend to hide my feelings sometimes and I just need to say that I’m really terrified about the idea that anyone else that I’m close to could be gone so easily, or so quickly for that matter. I guess when I put it this way it does seem like a kind of ‘normal’ thought.

Anyway, this is something that I’ve learned about myself over the course of several years and I’m really not sure how to, or if I even can, slow my roll and chill the hell out (do you know how hard it is to use my therapeutic techniques on myself?!). I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about all the negative ways Matthew’s results can go but I’m trying really hard not to go down that road. It’s troublesome to think that although he is the one not feeling well, he’s the one comforting me and telling me it’s going to be okay– one of the many, many reasons I always struggle to put into words how much I love him. He’s truly an exceptional human. And I like his face.

So, since I can’t seem to shake my paranoia and general sense of pessimism (I’ll choose to blame Web MD and overthinking) I’d like to ask that the Blog Gods or any potential readers I have out there to put some good stuff out there to the universe for him and cross your fingers that I can pull my own damn self together long enough to be the support he needs.

Treat Yo Self 2017

I’m back! And it must be treat yo self 2017 because I’ve been doing some major treating of myself. But more on that in a little bit.

I didn’t realize how much this “blog” (again, am I qualified to call it that? are there some sort of rules or something to be a blog?) is doing for me until I went a few days without writing and felt like I missed it. I’ve always said I wanted to write a book, so this is good practice. I’m thinking maybe continued writing on here will help me hash out a topic in my mind.

Back to the topic at hand. TREAT. YO. SELF. 2017. If you’re not familiar with the radical idea a la Parks & Recreation (again, me with my television references, I KNOW) “treat yo self” is the idea of indulging in yourself for one day and spending money on things you wouldn’t normally do/buy for yourself. For me, treat yo self 2017 has been more of a several months marathon treat and let me tell you, I gotta stop. I’m turning 26 in basically a month and being broke at 26 aint cute. 

I’m definitely exaggerating here. I actually just don’t want to touch the money I’ve put away in my savings/retirement account; I won’t and shouldn’t. Someone recently told me that all my hustling must be paying off because I went away twice in January of this year and I got tickets to see a few bands and shows this summer. Let me tell ya, some days I feel like I don’t know the first thing about money but I do know this: it’s perfectly acceptable to go through periods of treating yourself and periods of hustling to pad that bank account. So that’s my secret! Some months I’ll hustle hard on the savings account, and others I will let loose and enjoy my damn life. The one thing I will always recommend is that, no matter what, always have an automatic transfer on Pay Day from your checking account to your savings account (it’s a smooth & painless way to plan ahead–you never see it come out, so you can do your best to ignore it). Now you know all my secrets. These, and bargain shopping, but the cat’s been out of that bag for a long time.

My last big purchase to conclude my own personal version of Treat Yo Self 2017 was a beach cruiser bicycle. Now it’s time for my to CYCLE back into ‘saving mode’. See what I did there? CYCLE! Because I bought a bicycle. Its a pun!… I know, I’m the worst. You’re still reading though 😉 so I haven’t alienated you yet.

Aaaaanyway, let’s pretend that didn’t happen. So, I’ve always had a love//hate relationship with fitness, but I’ve also always liked biking. I’ve been wanting a new bicycle for a while now and it seemed like the right time since the weather is getting so much nicer. Research shows that staying active has a positive influence on happiness, sleep hygiene, etc blah blah blah BLAH honestly I’ll do anything to stay active that doesn’t make me want to slam my head into the wall while screaming internally. If you’re one of those people that gets joyful at the thought of cardio…bless your soul but get the hell off my page. Just kidding! Don’t go! Stay and tell me your secrets!

If you’re reading this I hope you find some magical way to treat yo self. Also, I should point out that this actually does not have to involve spending any money at all! I can be a bit impulsive. It’s overrated. Some of my favorite cost effective ways to take care of myself are really simple and I’d like to share them. Sometimes something as simple as a good Netflix B list horror movie will do the trick or a Youtube documentary (check out twin studies and/or the ‘past life’ experience as told by children) can be consuming– in a good way. A novel, a nice walk, or a nice cup of tea/coffee can make you feel refreshed as well, mentally and physically so that’s a win-win in my book. I also have about 92387492374, but don’t quote me on that number, television shows I can recommend if you’re looking for a good laugh, cry, something deep to think about, etc. I don’t know when my love of television started, but between that and writing, I know it can bring me out of even the deepest of funks.

As I’m about to go dive into last night’s 2 hour season finale of Scandal (Shonda Rhimes has me wrapped around her finger) I cannot stress enough how important it is that you do something good for yourself each and every day– big or small, costly or free!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month!

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t acknowledge and address fully that May is Mental Health Awareness month. According to the most recent data by the World Health Organization (WHO), ONE IN FOUR people in the world will be affected by some form of mental or neurological disorder in their lives. This is a huuuuge number of lives touched, and this is just based on data that has been reported. Consider the individuals that choose not to disclose their illness for fear of judgment and stigma. Some individuals may not disclose for cultural reasons. Others may not because they may not have adequate access to treatment or care (#Resist). Just think about it….ONE in FOUR. Where are you right now and how many people are nearby? How many people do you work with? How many friends do you have? How many people are in your family?

I’ve alluded to my own struggles before, but now is a better time than ever to bare it all. I’ve been struggling with anxiety and depression since I was in the eighth grade. I have over 10 years of lived experience with mental illness and over 10 years of anecdotal proof to support how important it is to recognize your needs and do whatever you possibly can to meet them. I had my first anxiety attack in the 8th grade the morning of the Biology regents. My first experience with depression was when one of my friends ratted me out to the school social worker (thank you) who thought I was suicidal (I wasn’t, but thank you anyway). I will never ever EVER forget these experiences that began to shape my journey to finding my own sense of ‘okay’. If you’re reading this and struggling yourself, I promise you, although there are good days and bad days I am totally okay and you can be too!

The purpose of this post was not to address my own mental health journey but to actually talk about someone else’s– Hannah Baker’s. I’ve been asked a few times now about my thoughts/feelings on the popular Netflix series, adapted from the novel by Jay Asher, “13 Reasons Why”. If you’re not familiar with the series, it is about a teenage girl that commits suicide and leaves behind 13 cassette tapes to be listened to and passed on by figures in her life; each tape corresponds to one of the 13 reasons that she committed suicide. This character’s name is Hannah Baker. I recently was honored to be asked to be a part of a good friend’s project in which I was one of those interviewed to discuss the series. The following is an excerpt on what I had to offer, and what I would also like to share here, since it is Mental Health Awareness month and I have a lot of strong opinions and feelings on this particularly socially current topic.

I really love what I do and from both my educational background and my own lived experience I have a lot of strong feelings regarding “13 Reasons Why”. First, I need to express properly how critical it is to become educated about suicide and to talk about suicide. Suicide has this institutionalized stigma attached to it, where the individual struggling is perceived as weak. Because of this, he or she may be reluctant to seek help. If someone does seek help, it is important that people are aware of the suicide ‘red flags’. This, I think is the one positive of having the series depicted on Netflix. With the series on Netflix, an increasingly popular medium to watch television, someone with no background in Psychology or Social Work can learn to discuss suicide and/or learn the red flags without even realizing it. Take the school counselor, Mr. Porter, for example. Hannah gave all the warning signals (i.e. feeling “empty”, feeling like she didn’t care about anything, disclosing recent sexual abuse, to name only a few of these blatant signs). Even my mother, who works in mortgages, was screaming at the screen for Mr. Porter to hear Hannah’s cry for help and do something.

Even despite the little credit that I will give the show, I feel that more harm has been done that far outweighs the potential benefits. By the last few episodes of the show, a “trigger warning” is depicted on the screen before the episode starts. This is excellent and I was glad to see it included, however, by episode 8 or 9, the viewer is already invested. Not enough was done to protect the viewers that may have encountered sexual abuse in their lives. I feel this was really negligent on the producers’ part because they are leaving themselves open to having viewers retraumatized. Furthermore, I think that the show did not take into account long standing literature on the dangers of depicting suicide. Years of research into phenomena like “suicide contagion” or “copycat suicides” support the idea that depicting graphic suicide may be linked to an increase in suicidal ideation/intent/action. Based on this research, clear recommendation guidelines have been established for reporting on suicide in the media. Even in the book, it is only suggested that Hannah takes her life from an overdose. Intimate details are not given, and producers made the conscious choice to graphically depict a suicide by means that were not even true to the original fiction. It may seem that I am coming down harshly on the producers, but I have the receipts. These are facts and figures supported by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and several published and peer-reviewed studies throughout several decades.

I feel like “13 Reasons Why”, in both the novel and the Netflix series, does glorify suicide. I won’t just pick on the Netflix version to explain this, because I acknowledge it about the book as well. The message that seems to be sent is one of revenge and seems to be very “they’ll feel sorry when I’m gone”. This does little to acknowledge the fact that suicide is permanent. It is only after Hannah is gone that you see the effects of her suicide on others. Although you see how difficult Hannah’s suicide is on her parents, one need only to consider the perspective of a teenage girl to see that the far louder message is that her peers would regret their words or actions to some degree after suicide is committed. But once it’s done, it’s done, and this was not fully acknowledged.

My biggest concern in watching the series is for those that identify with Hannah. I don’t want suicide to ever be seen as a viable option—because it is permanent and leaves a scar on everyone in its wake. There are no “do-overs” with suicide; it is a long-term solution for issues that can be mediated with the right help. It is a shame that, although we are finally talking openly about suicide, that it came with this cost– especially because turning the story into a Netflix series had so much promise. I will still watch “13 Reasons” Season 2 in hopes to see this promise turn into something more viable. The series has already gained a huge viewership, so much so that I almost have to believe that it is salvageable and can do some good…to think that it couldn’t would be paralyzing.

So there you have it, friends. My long-winded and wordy feelings on “13 Reasons Why”. I would like to thank my friend for allowing me to be a part of her work and for giving me another outlet to express myself on this! She’s a fellow writer and I dig her.

If you’ve managed to make it this far on this post, I dig you too. Before concluding, I want to touch on two more things (they’re worth it!).

When I was scrolling in social media land I came across two amazing Instagram accounts that I need to pass on and give some major credit to: @makedaisychains and @motivationaltattoos *

@makedaisychains is the artist and mental health activist behind the #boringselfcare movement, shining a light on all the simple things that can be done day to day that fall under self care and are little recognized! Her work is AMAZING and her Etsy is linked on her Insta.

@motivationaltattoos has a bunch of self care tips & gifts, including little temporary bandaid tattoos and pins that depict inspirational messages like “believe in yourself”, “you are worth it”, “love yourself”, and my personal favorite, “treat yourself”! Etsy page is also linked on Insta.

Thanks for reading & please feel free to reach out! Happy Mental Health Awareness month!

*This is not an ad, I was not asked by anyone to write anything about these accounts. They are just pure unadulterated awesome that I could not, in good conscience, keep to myself.

Raise Your Hand If You’ve Ever Felt Personally Victimized By (A) Regina George

Alright, friends. I’m going to make this one quick and dirty because I was supposed to be at my boyfriend’s house ~45 minutes ago (Sorry, Matthew! I know you subscribe to this).

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been body shamed! *Raises both hands emphatically*

Ok now raise your hand if you’ve ever been body shamed…wait for it… at the GYM.

Yup, it really just happened *shameless plug of blog title*. SO I was minding my business rocking out to some Good Charlotte (throwback I know, but I’m seeing them on Wednesday night and I have been getting myself pumped!) on the elliptical at Lucille Roberts. I go to Lucille, the ‘Women’s Gym’, because I’m self conscious and I fear judgment. I’M A HUMAN WITH FEELINGS AND FEARS–WHAAAT! WHO KNEW? I digress. Anyway, for whatever reason I didn’t think I would be subjected to self consciousness or judgment by other ladies. WELL, I was partially right because I made it a whole year and a half with no issues…until today some beyyyotch broke my streak.

So, like I said, I’m minding my own business when a fellow Fitgirl walks out of the bathroom and past my machine wearing almost the exact same outfit as me– she’s slender, she’s really pretty, & I think nothing of it. I pull out a headphone, because I’m about to tell her she has good taste (I’m friendly, I talk to strangers), and she proceeds to look me up and down and give me — THE LOOK. Now, I may sound paranoid here to some of you, but if you’ve ever struggled with your weight/your self image whether it be over OR underweight, you know The Look. This version of The Look was obvious. It was the ‘I wore it better and girlfriend, you’re really sweaty’ look that made me put my headphone back in and look at the ground red-faced (not JUST because I was really sweaty) and very embarrassed.

But you know what? I shouldn’t be embarrassed. Not in the slightest. I was at the gym making a healthy life choice. I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life. I have two preexisting conditions (#Resist) that make it difficult to manage my weight. PCOS & Hashimoto’s don’t define my life, but they do define some of the lifestyle choices I’ve had to make to live with these chronic illnesses. Does this judgy girl know that? Nope. Does she need to know that to be a decent human being and keep her thoughts off her face? Nope!

Anyway, my point is this: It takes no energy to be a nice human. Bodies are bodies and come in all shapes and sizes. I know I sound like an after school special, but forgive me and hang in there, because everything you’ve ever heard about the importance of accepting others is true. I’m me, so I know I’m pretty strong and can take some dirty looks, but what if I wasn’t? What if I was really fragile or had body dysmorphia or an eating disorder? How do you think something as simple as The Look would affect me? Probably not well I’d say.

Anyway, if you’re reading this, no matter what the hell you look like I think you’re beautiful! Unless you’re really judgy of others–just kidding, I could probably still at least tolerate you. Maybe.