I’m a party planner.
I’ve always enjoyed planning and executing special events. In college I actually had a job throwing birthday parties at a swank health club in Lincoln Park. My name tag said Sue Bennis, Party Coordinator. I still have it somewhere because I just happen to think it’s very fitting. And also because I love my former last name.
One thing we’ve incorporated into the business plan of this partnership that I’m working in are fitness parties, and we had a doozy on Saturday. January’s theme was Commit to Fit, and we were encouraging and supporting people to publicly declare a goal or commitment, with the idea that we will be there to support and encourage all year long.
Lots of the commitments were fitness related of course. Do more Zumba. Drink more water. Lose some pounds. Eat more vegetables.
Some were a little more ambiguous. Personal.
I didn’t fill one out. It didn’t even occur to me, actually. I was greeting and hugging and directing traffic and making sure everyone was welcomed and comfortable and usually when we do an event like this I am totally in my element. I enjoy the public persona. I mean, it’s still me. But it’s me in glitter. The fantasy me. And I really enjoy encouraging others to explore that fantasy them, too. I really think that one reason Zumba is so fulfilling to so many people is because we get a chance to really act like that person we feel like on the inside. The person we could be if we didn’t listen to the critic in our head.
So through the course of the weekend, as I was editing pictures and making notes and working over all the details of the day, I thought a lot about commitment. I’ve made plenty of promises to myself over the years, some of which I’ve kept (more cardio), and some of which I’ve broken (let go). I don’t think anyone is more aware of my shortcomings than I am. Especially in the last two years, I’ve done a little therapy and a lot of writing and a shitload of battling my way through some really dark days. I know I’m defensive and that I hold tightly onto
grudges hurts and that I can be cold and am deathly afraid of confrontation. And I know that I set high standards, not only for myself, but for the people around me. Impossibly high. Which is a problem because most of the time people aren’t going to live up to the standards you set for them. It’s hard enough living up to the ones we set for ourselves. Right?
In the grand scheme of things, people are going to disappoint you. And hurt you. Leave you hanging and piss you off. I mean, they’re going to do great things too. Love you. Hold you up. Fill you with joy and humble you with their goodness. But sometimes people suck and that’s just the way it is. And it’s really easy to point the finger at the suck and use it as an excuse for our own bad behavior. She didn’t do what she said she was going to do; therefore I get to say terrible things about her. Or he broke his promise to me, therefore I get to break a promise too. Even the score.
I don’t know if I’m getting to a point, really, except to say this: I have baggage. A huge trunkload full of icky, emotional, negative reactions to all the shit people have done to hurt me or piss me off or let me down that dates all the way back to when I turned 5 and had a birthday party in kindergarten and my frienemy was jealous of the attention I was getting so she tore my birthday crown in half.
I’m doing a better job of keeping the lid on that trunk, and not using it as my reason to give up or be negative. And that, my friends, is huge.
I had something happen this weekend that disappointed me. Like, on several levels. It hurt. And left me feeling a little thrown under the bus.
But in the face of this situation I stayed true to me. Even in the heat of the moment, when it would have been easy to avoid something terribly uncomfortable, I did what I said I was going to do. I didn’t let the threat of confrontation make me cower. I stuck to the plan, even though I was doing it on my own. You know those people who talk about somebody, but justify it by saying “it’s nothing I wouldn’t say to their face”? Well, I was that person. I was the same person IN the situation that I was when talking ABOUT the situation.
And I’m pretty freaking proud of myself for that.
As it turns out, it wasn’t really as hard as I thought it would be. In the moment, my hands got sweaty and my voice got shakey and I was all of a sudden terribly anxious. And it took most of the day to put that anxiety behind me. But what was awesome was that I didn’t have to sit and criticize myself after. Kick myself for not saying the right thing. Put myself down for not doing what I’d promised. Even though my stomach was churning and I wanted to crawl in a hole, I didn’t have to make an excuse. Or feel ashamed. Actually, I felt pretty good. It was the best shakey nauseous feeling I’d had in a long time.
So my public declaration would be this: In 2013, I commit to . . . being the me I am on the inside on the OUTSIDE too. Not just in Zumba class. But out in the world. Here’s to MORE shakey nausea in the year ahead!
Do you have a commitment for 2013?
Note: This post goes hand in hand with the launch of the anthology Strong Like Butterfly, a project of the amazing women over at GirlBodyPride. More to come on this wonderful book, but in the meantime please read about the launch here.