In the summer of 2008, I was on vacation with my family at Disney World. After a long day at the parks, I spent every moment we had in the hotel room watching the Beijing Olympics. This is when I fell in love with watching gymnastics!
I remember watching Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin and the rest of the women’s team absolutely destroy their events – doing flips! spins! splits! tumbles! the rest! (I don’t know gymnastics terms!) I was enthralled! I wanted to be as strong as them, fly through the air like them, be as confident as them, the whole thing!
While watching one night, one of my family members commented on how chubby the girls looked. Why were they wearing leotards when their legs were so fat? If they worked out so much, why weren’t they all skinny?
My brain started short-circuiting. They’re some of the strongest athletes in the world! It’s all muscle! They responded, Eh, is it worth being so strong if they look so chunky? I wouldn’t want to look that heavy.
I’ve spent most of my life trying to reckon with these conflicting values. Do I want to be strong and healthy? Or do I want to look thin and “beautiful”, according to traditional values?
I can’t remember when I was first introduced to meditation, but I do remember initially thinking that it wasn’t for me. What could I gain from sitting with my thoughts? What’s the point?
Now, however, meditation has become an important part of my self-care routine. I use it to disconnect from work or anything else that might be stressing me out. I also use it as a way to mentally reset and relax, especially when it gives me an excuse to sit outside and soak up the sun on a nice day. Above all else, however, it’s forced me to honestly sit with and reflect on all of my thoughts, which has been more helpful than I could’ve ever imagined.
And before I start going down the rabbit hole of health, I have acknowledge the obvious: I’m young and generally healthy! I’m incredibly thankful to have a job that lets me work remotely, indefinitely, for the same amount of pay! I’m not a BIPOC, so while my stress levels have gone up recently, they’re nowhere near as high as they could be! I live with my loving boyfriend and generally skew introverted anyway! Isolation definitely suited me in many different ways – but time still takes its toll!