I have nothing to prove and everything to prove

Why do you do this? Why subject yourself to the pain of running? You may never be first but you may be last.

Being overweight and endeavoring in what I, at times, call the ‘realm of athletes’ is fraught with emotions. The world tells me that I am fat because I do not work hard enough. The world says that skinniness or fitness has a 1:1 correlation with effort.. so the more you try you must end up fit and skinny. They also say that you cannot be an ‘athlete’ if you do not fit into a certain size category. This all could not be further from the truth.

Let’s be real, I have nothing to prove to anybody because I only need to prove my capabilities to myself. In fact, I owe it to myself to explore my potential, but that ends there. The salesperson in the fitness store, the spin instructor, the dude down the street have no claim to any of my energy devoted to proving my value, worth, or defending my presence.

I have grown in this. I now spend most of my days being completely confident in this. In the ski industry, where I have to pick and choose brands that will actually fit me, I know my value, worth, and skill. I have no qualms strutting into any area with my back straight and chin held high. At my local running store, Marathon Sports, I feel seen and valued. So much so they asked me to be a brand ambassador for them to help show the community that running and walking belongs to everybody! So why do I say I may still have everything to prove?

Certain feelings and perceptions do not die easy. And furthermore, the devils of our past may not simply die, but be hidden or driven far away… but not truly gone (more on this in a future blog). Growing up and playing sports I was always ‘just’ this position or ‘just’ that role. Think right field in baseball or first baseman. Least hit to or position requiring the least running. I felt the need to protect my participation by suggesting that I was not comparing myself to those other ‘athletes’. No, I’m not center field, but I play first.

Society still has its mind made up on what fit means and what an athlete means. We see them on TV. We see them in print advertisements. “You have the mind of a skinny person.” Hell, do you know how hard it is for me to buy shirts long enough for my torso and big enough so I feel comfortable? Being big or fat carries many presumptions. I do not try hard. I eat too much. If I can’t take care of myself, how can I take care of anybody else? As hard as I try, this devil has not left and my awareness has not left. I feel like… an imposter.

Despite the growth I have felt over the past few years of focusing on changing this, it’s hard to say if imposter syndrome will ever go away. I think we may just learn to deal with it and mitigate its effects. Riding the T into Boston to run the B.A.A. 5k, some other runners got on and were right next to me. Fitter, beautiful, and clearly more in running shape. I felt myself shrink a little bit. Who’s this chubby guy who thinks he can do the same thing that these other people do? But this is an outcome of years of hearing cultural narratives and society telling me/us what we can do. I feel that although I have nothing to prove, society still requires me proving to folks everything. I have to work harder than everybody just to get to a place of a skinnier person. I have to go above and beyond just to get back to their starting line.

Well fuck that and fuck them.

I am doing this because I can. I am doing this to prove that you don’t have to fit a mold to do this running thing. To get out and do what makes you feel alive.

So I guess my message to you all is this. Prove anything you need to to yourself and forget everybody else. Go do that hike. Get to that mountain top. Run that race. WALK that race. Do the tri, swim the swim. Ski that slope or buy those clothes. If we simply accept this antiquated societal perception, it will never change. So let’s step out, do what we want, and change the world with every step. And stand up for your community facing similar societal expectations. Champion each other to achieve our potential.

Much love.

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