Where I face some seriously scary shit, and BY GOD DO IT ANYWAY, because there is no alternative.

by Megan M. on May 10, 2009 (Blog) |

Do you know what’s terrifying?


The whole world is a scary, horrible, terrifying place that gives no quarter in hours of stress. You can’t run away. You can’t hide. It is always out there, waiting for you. You are expected to just put up with it and be brave and be strong and so you put on a chirpy happy face and pretend everything is okay even though you are SHITTING YOURSELF in terror.

And there is nothing more terrifying than getting your fat measured by your svelte CrossFit coach on a Sunday afternoon.


So I go to get my body composition measured because it’s happening today and I want to know if the measurements I took on my own were correct.

I’m pretty sure they weren’t, but I’m hoping they aren’t worse.

They can’t really be higher than I think they are, can they?

First I write down some goals (very nice goals, I think) and then we measure circumferences of limbs and things. I stand there and pretend it’s completely normal. La la la, nothing much, just getting my FAT MEASURED by my CrossFit coach! Ho hum, lazy Sunday afternoon, let’s see what my body fat percentage is today, I look over his shoulder as he writes it down, FORTY PERCENT?? There’s a plus sign, what does that plus sign mean? OVER FORTY PERCENT!?

Much higher than I thought. A part of me dies quietly of horror, and the rest of me makes pleasant conversation. “Ha ha, it was such a coincidence that you were doing body composition today, since I measured myself exactly a week ago and expected to do it again pretty much now,” ha ha, what SERENDIPITY! THAT’S SO FUNNY! Would you like more fat to measure? HERE’S MY BUTT, LET’S MEASURE THAT!

I was going to write this post a few weeks ago, when I started the instructional classes. I was going to write it then because, while I have maintained my internal composure excellently in the days leading up to CrossFit classes and in the spaces between them, I have rediscovered every single class how absolutely fundamentally terrifying it is for me to be there. Just to be there. And I finally wrote this post today because on the way home from measuring my body composition I remembered how very much I wanted to hyperventilate into a paper bag just thinking about it. Why, Megan? Why should this be terrifying?

Well… here’s the problem.

I don’t really believe I’m meant to be there.

I don’t really see myself as ever occupying the same universe Emily does, with her 125 pounds of muscle and 10% body fat. I can’t imagine how I can possibly belong at CrossFit. There is a small part of me who is waiting to be kicked out. “You can’t do these things,” they will say. “You’re not good enough. You’re different. You’re just not capable of them.” And I won’t be allowed to attend classes anymore. Maybe they won’t even refund my money! Because I’m not like them, not worth bothering with.

Every little indignity rubs the terror in, even though they haven’t kicked me out (yet, something says to me)—that I’m not like them, and not good enough. I needed to be in the beginners’ classes instead of the regular CrossFit classes. I can’t keep up with the run. I can’t do a fake, easy pushup. I run out of oxygen so fast when we’re doing anything. And apparently my body fat is ten percent higher than I thought it was. O GOD, the VIOLENCE done by NUMBERS!

Why is it that I think I’m “not like them”? Well, I’m just not capable of the things they’re capable of. I have to make excuses for myself—oh, I hurt myself easily. I can’t move that fast. I’ve never been able to do regular pushups. Whine, excuse, complain. Every time we learn something new, I actually have to STIFLE THE REFLEX to take someone aside and let them know that I need to do something different because I’m not like everyone else. I’m supposed to be an exception. A weaker exception. My whole life, I have made allowances for myself. It’s okay, you just can’t do what they’re doing. That doesn’t make you a bad person.

BUT IT DOES. IT DOES, it DOES make me a bad person. It makes me a bad person BECAUSE THOSE WERE ALL LIES!!


My whole life I’ve been lying to myself saying that I can’t be like that, I can’t be strong, I can’t be fast, I can’t feel good, I’ll never be able to climb a tree or run a race or fight evildoers with my bare fists, I have completely exempted myself from those categories, and I’ve been telling myself these LIES for SO MANY YEARS that NOW I FINALLY BELIEVE THEM. I believe them so powerfully that the very act of attending a CrossFit class—completely separate from the fear of being physically unattractive, of not being liked, of having spent money on the wrong solution—the very ACT of participating instills an enormous amount of terror just because I’m afraid I don’t belong there. Afraid that if they really knew who they were dealing with, they’d reject me out of hand. And wondering when they’ll find out, wondering how long I’ll last before they do. WHEN WILL THE OTHER SHOE DROP? Will they yell? Will they be disappointed? Will they be disgusted with themselves for not having seen it sooner?

How long before they realize I’m not capable and exile me to a special country for incapable people? How long? How long do I have? Because the incredibly perverse part of all of this is that with all of the effort, and the grunting and the sweating and the exhaustion and the struggle to have enough oxygen to breathe and the embarrassment of consistently being the very last person back from the 400 meter run, with 98% of visible participants slimmer or prettier than me, with Marty being insanely stronger and more conditioned than I am and better at all of it, even with everything else I’ve mentioned, with the sheer impossibility of ensuring my appearance when my hair is pinned up and my clothes are soaked in sweat…

With all of that…

All those things, the perverse part is…

I actually… LIKE IT.

I want to do it.

I don’t want them to kick me out. I don’t want them to tell me that they made a mistake, that I can’t really do this thing after all. I don’t want Em to IM me someday and say, You know, it might just be better if you did something else instead…

I am so afraid that someone will make me stop, when part of me is absolutely certain that I don’t deserve to keep going. And I like doing it so much I could CRY, because it scares the HELL out of me to go.

The world is like this.

The world is a fucking terrifying place with bad monsters and a perceived ability to hear all the negative thoughts in people’s heads when they look at you and situations that are hard and the frequent discovery that you’re worse than everyone else at the thing you thought you were good at.

The world is hard and scary and awful.

But you have to keep living there ANYWAY. You have to keep trying. You have to chip away at the thing, you have to change yourself. THIS is not an opportunity, this is not an obligation, this is a FACT. Opting out produces no results. No one can change you FOR you. You have to make the hard things happen because you’re obstinate enough to push and push and push until they do. You can’t just stop because something is scary. You have to be scarier. You have to be stronger and braver.

THAT is why I’ll go to every freaking CrossFit class. I will go five days a week as soon as they’ll let me in June, and I will love every minute of it. I will go to free workouts on Saturdays. I will voluntarily get my body fat measured and I will do it with a smile on my face, month after month after month. I will do the pushups I “can’t do” and I will run that 400 meters every time even if I’m way behind because that’s the only way for any of it to get better. Inside my head I will cry and scream and insist that I CAN’T and think of ways to trick them into letting me stay instead of making me leave, and I will sweat and pant and be afraid and keep going anyway.

Outside, I will look brave and determined and continue to do everything I’m supposed to do to get through this. I will keep going when it’s horrible, when it’s hard, when I can’t figure out how it ends, I have to keep going because NOTHING ELSE WILL GET ME THROUGH. Because the only alternative is to stop, and that’s no alternative at all.

Just wanting to feel better won’t make me strong. Pretending, lying to myself, won’t make me strong. Talking about it won’t make me strong. Being a pansy and getting away with less than my best won’t make me strong. Making excuses won’t make me strong. ONLY DOING IT WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

So god help me, I’m going to do it.

Red-faced and terrified, I will conquer the world.


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