A couple of weeks ago my receptionist and I had a conversation about how people perceive me. She pointed out something I had never seen in myself… She said that people are drawn to me because I am so authentically and genuinely myself. I say what I am thinking, but am never disrespectful. I am not afraid to admit my failures, and am usually the first one to bring them up. I laugh at myself, and motivate myself. People feel like they can be themselves around me, because I don’t ever pretend to be perfect.
After she pointed this out to me, I started to see it… Everywhere except in my gym.
I don’t know what it is about that place, but the minute I walk in there, it’s like the weight of the world settles on my shoulders. In my job, I deal with people all day. And one thing I have learned about sales is that you’re a kind voice on the other end of the line. People will open up to you about their automobile issues, dislike of the weather, and childcare problems. They’ll tell you about their health issues, marital problems, and heart breaks. They will hold nothing back, but because to them, you are someone they can unleash their problems on and not worry about being judged or treated differently. I am not a person, just a voice.
The problem with this is that I am a person. And I can’t leave their problems at the door. When at the end of the day I have heard 12 stories about what my clients are going through, I am tired. I look at my life, and I am so incredibly blessed. Don’t get me wrong, I have my own issues and struggles, but I have incredible faith. I don’t stress about anything in my life, because I know that it will work out in the end. I have no question that what I am going through is part of a bigger plan, and it is giving me a perspective or a talent to to use to help someone with at a later date. But I can’t imagine facing what some of these people go through without that faith.
I walk into the gym, and my heart breaks for the lady who has to sell her family farm which she raised her family on because her husband of 60 years just passed away.
I walk into the gym, and I feel the stress of the family who is living their dream running a small tack shop but are barely making their mortgage payments.
I walk into the gym, and I feel the frustration of the young mom who had a flat tire on the way to drop her kid off at daycare, making herself late for work and got yelled at by her boss.
The fact that I cannot be myself has bothered me since the I started attending my gym. I don’t know if it is unique to this gym or if I am just noticing it now because before I used to just throw in headphones and do my own thing anyways. But it has made it hard for me to connect with the people I train with. While they’re all chatting about their days and whatever else is going on in their lives, I am trying to solve the worlds problems.
Today the thought occurred to me that maybe this is my way of dealing with the burden others put on my shoulders. Maybe that with every lift, or every squat I am burning off a piece of that hurt, frustration, or fear. By the time I leave the gym, I am ready to face another day of listening to it because I have already handed over the problems of yesterday. Maybe even though I am anti-social for an hour a day, it is my way of making sure that the negativity I face in every day life doesn’t start to impact my life. Doesn’t change the way I view the world, or the people in it.
Maybe for me the gym isn’t about making deep connections with the other people there… Maybe I just need a place to strengthen myself, both physically and emotionally.
“A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body” – Proverbs 14:30