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On Insecurity, Boundaries, Comparison, and Competition

I'll start by saying that this blog post should probably be four separate posts, each on a different topic mentioned in the title. However, these things have been so entertwined in my last few years that I'm having a hard time separating them. Perhaps this post will be the first, and then I'll follow it up with four separate posts about each of these elements. For now, these things interweave in such a complex way that I can't seem to peel them away from each other.

Let's start with insecurity, because I think that's the root of all of it. I first considered becoming a personal trainer in my 20's, but I never thought I could do it. I thought that people wouldn't take me seriously because I don't look like a fitness model. It wasn't until I was in my 40s that I realized that not everyone wants to be trained by a fitness model. Instead, most people want someone who is real, who has struggles, who understands the process. It was only when I felt secure in having a place that would accept me that I took the plunge and became a personal trainer and started teaching group fitness classes.

However, that alone did not get rid of the insecurities. In fact, it just gave me a set of new ones. Would the women like my classes? Was I doing things right? Did my routines look silly? Would people compare me to the other instructors, or even the other women in the classes? For the most part, these insecurities soon went away as I realized that most women did, in fact, enjoy my classes despite my imperfections. But not everyone did. For the most part, that was okay. I'm not everyone's cup of tea, and I shouldn't be. We all have different preferences. But there was one person who continually picked me apart. If I messed up in class, she pointed it out in front of everyone. If I did well with something, she complained that I was too competitive and made things difficult for me to do work I was proud of. It took me a long time to stand up for myself, and when I did, things blew up. It strained or ruined friendships, and I lost some things that were very important to me. It took me a while to reconcile that, and in some ways, I am still working on it. It's hard to ask for respect and set boundaries and realize that there are those who don't see that you were disrespected. It's hard to discover that you poured a lot of yourself into something and that it wasn't valued. That feels like YOU weren't valued. And it hurts. But since then, I've had opportunities that allow me to pour that energy into myself instead of into something else, and I've learned that everything I was doing was just fine. I've let go of a lot of the insecurity that came from the judgement of another because I am starting to see that was HER insecurity acting out. People that need to tear you down or point out your flaws or hold you back are only doing that because they are threatened, intimidated, or insecure themselves. Another person's insecurity is not my responsibility, and I don't need to shoulder it and let it weigh me down. So, lest it sound like I'm tooting my own horn here and acting like I've got it all figured out, I'll admit that I've done similar things as a result of my own insecurity, and I recognize the ridiculousness of it. I remember one particular time I had lost and then gained quite a bit of weight. A woman walked into the studio who had been KILLING it with her workouts and nutrition. She looked so good, and she was wearing a white tank top that really accentuated how trim her waist was. I felt actually angry at her. Seriously. And I knew it was stupid--I was angry at myself and deflecting it on her. My insecurity made me feel I had to compete with her, and in comparison, I was losing. Instead of celebrating her success, I felt bitter. There are other women locally who do similar things to what I do: personal trainers, health coaches, online fitness instructors. I used to feel as if I had to compete with them. If one of "my" girls booked a session with another health coach, it really hurt!! I would be so upset and wonder why they went somewhere else. What was wrong with me?!

I'm happy to say that I've gained some confidence in myself, and a lot of that had to do with drawing boundaries with those that were bringing me down. When I see one of "my" girls going somewhere else for help, I don't sweat it! I know that sometimes, we just need to try something different. Sometimes, a different style of coaching resonates better with certain personalities. You want to sign up for a different coach? I'm sorry that I wasn't able to help you, or you're not ready to try my coaching style, but I'm not taking it personally, and I hope you see ALL the success. You want to go to a group fitness class at one of the other facilities here in town? I'm bummed I won't see your pretty face, but I hope you have a great time and an amazing workout.

Am I competitive? OH, YEAH. Just ask Team #D@!*itnicci. We determined that we were NOT going to lose a team fitness competition, and we blew it out of the water. But I'm learning there's a difference between comparison and competition, and I'm realizing that there's a place for competition. And right now? I'm not competing with you. I'm going to do my thing, and I'm going to do it to the best of my ability. Sure, I'll point out what I have to offer, but I'm not going to tear you down to do it. There's room in this world for ALL of us to be our best. I'm rooting for you, and I'm rooting for myself.

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