For being someone who had no qualms about buying a one way ticket to New York City, being on national television touting my 200-plus-pound frame, or moving across country with my boyfriend when we’d only been dating three months, I sure have my qualms about some very minuscule things.
For instance when I first moved to New York City and was living by myself for the first time in my life, I had a typical New York apartment. Meaning while it was historic and had intricate details like a claw-foot tub, turquoise cabinets and French doors that opened from the bedroom to the living room, it also had cockroaches. They were actually water bugs, but they looked exactly like cockroaches in both size and absolute hideousness. The first time I saw one I let out a loud scream followed by strong body convulsions as I ran away from the bug and stood on my bed in an utter panic.
My first thought was: I need a man to come and kill this or surely I will die.
Then: How will I sleep tonight? If there’s one, there’s definitely a whole family.
This prompted more body convulsions.
And lastly: I’m going to need to move.
At this point, the portion of my brain that isn’t used very often—reason—kicked in and told me I would have to kill the bug myself as it was late and going door to door to neighbors asking who would be willing to come slay a cockroach for me seemed a bit much, even for me.
I peeked from my safe vantage point on the bed, around the corner into the kitchen where I spotted the loathsome creature who was still there, just hanging out without a care in the world. I exited out of the French doors and went to locate some cleaning spray from the bathroom. I came back and aimed it at the unsuspecting critter like a loaded gun and began to fire.
I thought this was a brilliant idea as I had no plans of actually touching him with any part of my body, until the little bugger freaked out and began to fly at me. He flew! This prompted me to let out a howling scream of pure terror as I ran around my bedroom shaking and covering my head as if he had weapons of his own besides his size and overall ugliness. He was about the size of my middle finger (which is still freaking huge) and was dark brown all over.
He flew into the wall and then dropped down into a corner somewhere. I wasn’t comforted by this but I knew I had poisoned him right good and he would eventually die.
The next time I saw one I put a shoebox over it and books on top to smother it and kicked the shoebox to the side of the living room to be left until either my dad arrived a few weeks later or a male of any capacity would dispose of the body for me. I was terrified to touch them, even in death.
Buying or doing anything that constitutes the man realm prompts me to not only have bouts of anxiety but also practice pure avoidance tactics for some reason. I don’t know why this unnerves me, but it does, even more than, say, cliff jumping from jagged rocks into frigid Lake Superior. I am more comfortable cliff jumping than hooking up electronics or killing bugs.
But I did it. Because I had to. I mention all this because lately, I feel I have been getting a little complacent with having to do things, especially so-called man things because I have a boyfriend.
The other day when the weird smell that was coming out of the vents of the new car I recently purchased (also another big girl move) finally got to me, I decided to go have it looked at … by myself. I had been reminding my boyfriend that he had to take me, for moral support I suppose, or this notion I had that being a girl and walking into a car repair shop meant I’d be taken for a ride and made to pay for things I didn’t understand, because well, I don’t understand anything about cars. But I was passing the dealership and had time on my hands, so it seemed like a good idea to go and get it taken care of.
Here’s the kicker. Nothing unsavory happened. I wasn’t taken for a ride. I wasn’t hassled. I wasn’t even made to pay because of the warranty. My car was just fixed and then I got to leave. I was astounded. And pleased with myself and my adult ways. Much like the other day when my boyfriend gave me a winning lottery ticket to cash in (which I usually refuse because I have always assumed handing in winning lottery tickets was a lengthy ordeal that I wasn’t ready to learn, so I just abstain from purchasing or redeeming them). I got over my nerves in want of the $5 and I handed the ticket to the clerk at 7-11 who asked me if I wanted the cash or another ticket after scanning it. I beamed, shocked at how easy it was to redeem a lottery ticket and said, No thanks, I want to come out ahead so I’ll take the money please.
And just like that, cashing in a winning lottery ticket and getting my car fixed can be added to my list of scary feats I’ve tackled, like killing cockroaches and storming hardware stores in search of supplies.
Getting out of your comfort zone is not just rewarding in real life, but it can be especially bolstering in the gym and contribute to overall good health. I have truly found that the more I tackle the things that scare me in my everyday life, the more likely I am to try a new yoga class or confidently order salmon when I want a cheeseburger. I’ve realized that the more often I don my big girl pants for the seemingly innocuous, the more often I have transcendence in the areas of health and fitness. And see, they’re all connected anyway, so why not start practicing small acts of bravery?