Way back in the Paleolithic Era, I agreed to be part of an article in the S.F. Chronicle called something like “different ways folks exercise.” I was doing a lot of vertical gymnastics back then (a/k/a pole dancing), and they were curious about that.
The photo at the left is the photo that they used. I thought it was fun, and still have a copy of the article somewhere. I thought it was fun, that is, until I accidentally went online, and met with The Haters.
The Haters are folks who make comments like “look at all that cellulite” and “she makes me throw up a little in my mouth.”
Just a minute or so ago, in sending someone the link to my first book (which I will update some day, swear), I saw that there were some “newer” reviews of my book. Since the book was published in 2007, I was curious to look.
The bad part is that the hater reviews pull the reviews of my book down. With no newer reviews to “trump” them, they have high weight. (So, if you happen to read this blog, and happen to want to go review my book on Amazon, would’ja? (click here))
It also really wrecks my day. My friend Jen at Wine To Weightlifting wrote about this a while back (click here). I really felt her pain.
When I was a little kid (that’s me, front right), I was very shy, introverted, a bookworm. I wasn’t particularly socially aware, and definitely was super awkward socially. As I was always head and shoulders (literally!) taller than anyone in my class, I think this led to me believing that the quieter I was, the less I would be “seen.” (Thank goodness my father always poked me between the shoulder blades to “stand up straight,” so I didn’t get the terrible stoop that you see in a lot of very tall women.)
Once I got to college, I decided that enough was enough. I wanted to stop being so afraid. I was always afraid of doing something to “stand out” – when, at over 6 feet, Hell, I stood out anyway.
So I copied a dorm mate.
She was popular, but in a really nice way. She was sort of heavy, had lots of friends, was helpful, and made you laugh. She was easy going. I think that the statute of limitations on being a stalker has now lapsed, so I admit, I stalked her. It wasn’t so hard, because she wasn’t great at school, and so I offered to tutor her. I slowly changed what I wore, what I laughed at, and how I saw the world. I came to realize that everyone is pretty much self-obsessed – they’re not looking at you and waiting for you to foul up. They could care less about you – unless it’s about what you think about them!
I met up with her (through the genius of Facebook) decades later. She’s the same gal. She remarked at our lunch that she couldn’t figure out why “we weren’t better friends and didn’t hang out more” in college. Again, that statute of limitations thing being over, I admitted that I’d stalked her. Well, what I said was, “I think that you like me because I am you.”
I explained what I’d done, and she burst into tears. She said that after I went abroad, she left school and had “barely” graduated. She said she couldn’t figure out why someone “as smart as me” would want to copy someone “who could barely get by” like her. A lot of tears and a lot of hugs later, I think we both came away enriched and with a different perspective on who we were, oh so long ago.
But I still have that thin skin that I had as a young girl.
A while back, I was asked to be “staff” (a sous chef, actually) at a women’s retreat in Sayulita, Mexico. I thought that sounded great – especially as I could attend the retreat, and working would pay for my room! That is, until I was “interviewed” by the leader. She told me that the week-long retreat would be all about “Re-Becoming Yourself As A Child.” I remember so clearly telling her over a cup of coffee (about 10 days before the retreat!) that I did not WANT to “re-become” myself as a child. I told her the whole story – about who I used to be, about copying the woman at college – and, you know what? She actually didn’t believe it. I’d known this woman through other women’s and coaching venues, and she knew me as a gregarious, lighthearted, fun, accomplished leader with a ton of admiring friends and clients. She explained that if I was to be on the Team, I “had to” do the exercises, and that’s what it was going to be about.
I almost didn’t go.
Flash forward to the middle of the retreat – the other women are prancing around on the sand of the beach, flying paper airplanes and stringing daisies, leaping and skipping.
That evening at the “Sharing” the leader basically “took me down.” She said that I wasn’t “playing by the rules” and was being “petulant.”
And I had an actual stomping foot, standing up, scaring-the-other-women fit about it. I explained to her that this was who I was as a child. That I had told her that I had re-invented myself, and that the person everyone “knew as me” was a fiction built up over time by me out of will power and spit. That the girl that everyone had seen was indeed who I had been – because it was not until college that I invented the person I was today.
After a lot of silence, and some “grim chin” looks from the leader (who was, I guess, processing that I had, in fact, told her this), one of the other (lovely) participants in the retreat piped up. She said, “Why don’t you do the exercises, as the child that the new you would have been, instead?”
So this is what I did. But the taste of who I had been, and “re-embodying” her (there was a lot of hypnosis, deep work, etc. involved in this retreat) remained like ashes in my mouth.
Just yesterday, a business partner and I faced an issue that we needed to investigate. I had found something through some legal sleuthing that was potentially worrisome to part of a business we’re incubating. She said, “let’s just call them.”
I couldn’t believe it – but that’s what we did. I am still the original little girl inside – wanting to know everything and have investigated everything before even potentially entering on a risky path. My friend? She just picked up the phone! (She also said, “Wow, I just learned something really big about you.”)
So what’s this post about? People often don’t come from where you think they do. And it’s often not some awful Oprah-esque backstory. Maybe it’s about the fact that you might be being “stalked” by someone right this second. And she’d be amazed that someone wouldn’t “want to be like you.” Or maybe this post’s about not hating on people. Just stop it. There’s enough of that crap going on out there – let’s all keep ourselves above the mire, shall we? Or maybe it’s just about trying to get someone to go post something nice about my book. Hmmmm. (That’s enough about me…what do you think about me? ;-) )