The Summer season is excruciatingly stressful for me, despite my lack of academic engagement, for one reason and one only: Swimsuits.
This past Saturday was the debut of my summer body, and it was nerve-wracking. I shimmied into my high-waisted, Marilyn Monroe-style bathing suit, sucked my gut as close to my spine as I could, and forced myself to take a peek in the mirror.
That peek turned into a 15-minute inspection, and, as always, I did not measure up to my self-imposed expectations. I had been attending the gym for an hour and a half EVERY DAY since school got out. My diet consisted of purely fruits and vegetables and an occasional square of dark chocolate, and yet, despite all of this effort, there I stood, desperately trying to gather the courage to emerge from my bedroom in my bathing suit.
Before the tears of frustration were allowed to flow down my freshly-sunscreened face, I ripped myself from my own merciless gaze, grabbed my beach towel, and left my bedroom.
I timidly rushed down the stairs, acutely aware of my thighs jiggling with every step. Before heading out the door to head to my community swimming pool, I bumped into my sister. She looked me up and down, sighed, and said, “you look good.”
“You look good.”
Guys. You have no idea how much influence that subtle, simple comment had on my self esteem that day. I was actually able to enjoy getting slightly sun burned as I draped myself over a pool chair. I wasn’t worried about what other people were thinking about my pasty white, chubby thighs. I wasn’t worried about much at all, actually. I think I might have even been relaxing.
You see, what I realized that day was that not everybody is looking at me. Not everybody is scrutinizing my body and tearing me apart with rude comments about how I should lay off the cheese puffs or do more squats. Odds are, i’m the only one doing that. Most people are just there to swim.
No, I’m not saying I’m finally and suddenly comfortable in my own skin. I’m not saying I will no longer poke at my stomach, cursing myself for not having washboard abs. Because who cares if there’s some extra flab on my tummy when there are ice cream cones to be eaten and vacations to go on and barbecues to attend? What i’m saying is i’m no longer going to let it interfere with my ability to go and do fun things and enjoy them.
So from now on, i’m just here to swim.