Typically, I am not a crier. I tend to be rather stoic until it becomes impossible to remain that way any longer. When the dam finally breaks, it releases an ocean of salt water tears.
The funny thing is, it never seems to give way because of what’s really bothering me. Usually, some small concern creates a crack that lets loose the trickle that becomes a stream that grows into a river that carves out my own personal Grand Canyon.
What was the tipping point this time, you ask? Well, it was this:
It wasn’t the actual invitation; it’s quite lovely. It wasn’t the event, either. (In fact, I jumped around the house in excitement for days!) The breakdown came while I was packing for the trip. I had weeks to prepare, but I found myself procrastinating to such a degree that I didn’t start planning what to take until September 5th.
This is New York Fashion Week, people! You can’t dilly dally for four weeks and then just throw some crap in a suitcase. What you wear is not only important, it the very essence of the event!
As I began the process of sorting and sifting through all of the flotsam and jetsam that comes with being a girl, I noticed that my brain was busy plotting out various methods of escape. It would be so easy to send an email:
Dear Brizo, So sorry. She really appreciates the invitation, but She can’t live the fine life this week. Insert lame excuse reason here.
Wait just a minute! This is the exactly kind of opportunity that I love. I rarely let the chance to travel, experience new things, or educate myself pass me by. (The people watching alone is like crack to me!) I’ve been to some great places, and I’ve done some really cool things. I also enjoy photographing and writing about it all.
I stopped to ask myself, what is really going on here? I listened for an answer.
And… Cue the water works.
I’ll spare you the gory details, and the visuals of the ugly cry, by boiling the whole mess down to it’s basic parts. I kept returning to the itinerary and the guest list, and found myself walking away repeatedly, terribly intimidated by both. It was a feeling that had been bubbling under the surface for quite sometime, but the process of trying on and rejecting apparel became the process of trying on and rejecting me.
I felt fat and old and woefully inadequate.
I have a closet, or two, full of beautiful clothes and impractical shoes, yet I had nothing to wear during Fashion Week. None of it fits me right now. I was always an exerciser – I have the journals to prove it. (I wrote down miles logged and reps completed the way some people write down feelings. Arnold presses and dead lifts are way easier than actually feeling anything.)
Along the road, a series of incidents and accidents piled one-on-top-of-the-other leading to a lack of energy and desire, and an unfortunate weight gain. Maybe uncomfortable is a better word for it, because buying new clothes, bigger clothes, is like waving a white flag to me.
I’m not giving in.
Even though I’m back busting balls while you’re dreaming about kittens and Brad Pitt, the weight isn’t going away like it used to. In fact, I think it’s pitched a tent on site and is contemplating digging a foundation wall.
Why is it hanging in there, when I really want it to give up? There are many reasons, some of which are none of your business, but the simple science of it is that my physiology has changed. I know this because I read, I listen when my doctor talks, and I’ve learned to decipher a Gregorian calendar.
In hindsight, these are all major mistakes. This is a year for one of those birthdays. You know, one with an 0 in it. If I could not read, or listen, or decipher I would know none of this. If I lived in a place with no books, TV’s, computers, or mirrors, age would not be a factor in my little meltdown, and neither would weight. Ignorance may well be bliss, after all.
So, I’ve established that I was feeling fat and old. The combo set off a flashing neon name tag in my brain:
That triggered the feelings of inadequacy. There was going to be a design competition with thin, young, talented and accomplished people. I can’t compete with that! I have to make small talk, too. For three days. OMFG! What did I get myself into and how do I get myself out of it?
Then, the real thrashing began. The one that reminded me that I survived being a young mom and my children did too; that I started college as the mother of three teenagers and finished as the mother of three college students; that I have loved and lost, but still keep moving forward; that I’m lucky to be having a birthday at all.
I remembered that I had classes with students the same age as my kids. I even had classes with some of my children’s friends! I handled that. Some days, I ran circles around my younger classmates and when I didn’t, I worked even harder. I graduated with honors.
Nobody handed it to me; I earned it.
I also realized that approaching the additional 0 in my age, the shift to a new demographic, has taught me that things like age and weight and winning don’t matter. Showing up is what counts.
So, I showed up. I had a really good time and I lived to tell about it, and tell about it, I will!
Fear is a powerful thing, my friends. A very powerful thing. It can be paralyzing, if you let it. Remembering that it’s not real is the trick. I didn’t go on this dream trip in dream shape, I didn’t wear my loveliest frocks, my team didn’t win the competition and I couldn’t do a darn thing about my age.
I don’t know if anyone judged me, and frankly, I don’t care. I spent some quality time in a city I love and I met an awesome group of smart, creative people of all sizes, abilities and ages.
In the end, I went to the fashion show in the clothes I’d crawled around in as I worked out our team’s floor plan that morning. The beautiful dress I brought decided to stay in my hotel room, and the impractical shoes slept peacefully in their soft purple bag.
I wore jeans and a sweater. I cared, but I didn’t care. The fun was in just being there!
Ever jumped in head first when you felt like running away? How have you faced down your inner critic?
Everybody has a story to tell. Tell me yours in the comments!