I hate having people I know witness me exercising.
Surprisingly, this is not due to my general clumsiness or lack of physical acumen. I’m not nearly as awkward at exercising as I used to be in high school (I actually had to convince a skeptical PE teacher that no, I wasn’t holding back, yes, I was putting in every effort, and yes, I was really just that terrible at sports – she raised my grade after I nearly passed out trying to run faster). I can make it through a Zumba class with zeal, and the Southern Belle has gotten me better at strength training too.
But I do all this semi-secretly, waiting until my mom is out of the house in the morning and making sure Bird is either asleep or going to join me. I just don’t like having bystanders. (The Southern Belle is an exception.)
I get the same uncomfortable feeling of being under a microscope when people (well, most people) ask how my writing is going. If I don’t have anything super impressive to tell them, or if in fact it’s kind of at a difficult point and I’ve been stuck on the same scene for 2 weeks, I don’t really want to talk about it. Even if I just hit an awesome word count milestone, or I finished a scene that I’m proud of, there’s something about sharing that part of my internal process with others that just makes me cringe.
I would often prefer to simply present my finished product (manuscript, weight loss, whatever) to the world and say, “Look at this thing I made.” The process of getting that finished product, however, feels too imperfect and messy, too personal, to willingly share with more than a few people at a time.
Some of this could be from academic pressure spilling over into the rest of my life. We are well past the point of turning in an outline, then a draft, then a revised draft, then a peer review, then at long last the final draft. My professors don’t want the process – they want the results. In so much of academic life, the interest lies in the polished version of whatever you’re supposed to accomplish. So maybe I want to present the same perfect face in other areas.
Or maybe it’s to do with responsibility. Goodness knows I have plenty of obligations filling up my color-coded planner already; I neither need nor want to be accountable to anyone but myself in any more parts of my life.
Or maybe it’s like when I was learning to drive and it made me incredibly nervous to even go to the grocery store because every trip of a few blocks felt like a huge test. I knew my parents were watching everything I was doing, which made me overthink it, which made me wonder if I had gotten something wrong, which is not a good thought to be having when you are directing a two-ton metal object along a road filled with other people in other two-ton metal objects. The mere fact of observation, even when we got home and I sat shaking behind the wheel in the garage while my mom told me what a good job I’d done, made the whole ordeal ten times worse.
I don’t actually have an answer for this. That’s okay, though – I’m pretty content to continue working out and writing as quietly and unnoticeably as possible.