My gym has started using MyZone which is a heart rate tracker designed for group fitness. Yeah, whoopeedoo, I hear you say.

It’s changed a few things.

For one thing, my perceived exertion is always wildly inaccurate.
Me: I’m almost dead.
MyZone: Nah, not even close.

Me: Meh, boring.
MyZone: You’re almost cooked.

Because my heart rate is up on the screen the peer pressure is suddenly on and it feels like I’m back in primary school being lapped by the slow kids who cheer me on. Except this time the fast kids are nice and their the ones giving me a shove into the red zone. (Yeah, red zone is the maximum heart rate zone, in case you couldn’t tell.) And I hated all those things about primary school, always being last in everything (except relays, I’m a good sprinter) and not being able to catch anything (this still hasn’t changed).

As a kid I hated standing out for the wrong reasons, which totally happens when you’re the fat slow kid who reads all through lunch.

As an adult I’ve decided to accept some of this stuff. Only some of it. As a kid I put up boundaries I wasn’t aware of, and as a teenager I had severe cases of FOMO and people pleasing and I stopped having boundaries all together. And it made me mad, angry, angsty, sullen, all of those things teenagers could be and then some. And as a young adult I was always trying to do everything all at once. Those days are over. They have to be because it’s not just about me anymore.

The last eighteen months or so have been about establishing boundaries. I’ve ended toxic friendships; I’ve had to let go of all sorts of anxieties and worries. But it’s also about acknowledging all the things I need to do to feel okay, to live within the constraints of my routine (routine makes me happy), and to value my time a little more. I’ve never been a girl who has ever stopped to smell the roses. But I have been the type of girl to live in thousands of books or to completely zone out during an RPM class, or to be absolutely okay to go through an entire day without speaking to anyone at all.

People often perceive me to be stand offish, or grumpy or a snob, when actually I’m just painfully shy in a world that seems filled with extroverts; who also has to function in a world which caters for extroverts. This is part of the reason I don’t enjoy camps or residentials, with all of the mandatory networking my brain become fried. But I wish I had known this many years ago. I always thought that to be a good leader, or lay person working in ministry, I would have to be an extrovert. Faking it until I made it burned me out eventually, and I don’t have the charisma to make a case behind making bad decisions.

If I understood way back when I would have chosen a career path that suited my personality a bit. Many teachers are introverts, and because I love performing and teaching, it seemed to be a perfect fit.

It wasn’t.

I’m not really at a crossroads or anything. But much of what I perceived to be true about myself has proven to be a lie. Maybe instead of a rich, busy and colourful life I just want a simple one with trips to Ikea and a zoo visit every now and then. Maybe instead of taking the lead from my romance novels, I could have just enjoyed relationships without constantly engaging in drama. Maybe I need to listen to my instincts better when it comes to making new friends, and keeping the old.

I incidentally gave my two children middle names that could translate to strength and courage. What I perceive that to be is entirely different to what someone else will think. To me, strength is keeping on keeping on when you believe that you can’t; courage is facing the fear of the things you don’t perceive to be safe, but you feel the fear and do it anyway.

My goal for the week: get into the red zone.

My goal for the rest of my life: look after myself, because no one else will do it for me.

Written by

I like books, rubber ducks, 90s pop music and putting words on paper. Wrote a thesis on romance. Tea and learning tarot.

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