Now that the days are longer and warmer, I tend to spend a lot more of my time outside rather than inside staring at a screen. But truth be told I’ve been a little amused lately by this strange dichotomy. If you struggle with depression and/or anxiety, finding a balanced, healthy view of yourself is challenging to say the least. And if you’ve been following me you know that running has become a “thing” for me. I started because I wanted to get in better shape. I didn’t know if I’d stick with it, but I wanted to do it long enough that either I’d get into it, or at least keep at it until I found something else “fitness” that I could do. Running was it. (Side note, May 22, 2017 – exactly one year ago today – I did my first “Couch to 5k” workout. This wasn’t intentionally an “anniversary” type post, but it does tie in quite nicely!) I’ve had short runs, longer runs. I’ve had runs that were painful, I’ve had runs that were incredible.
I knew getting in shape would help my mental health. I knew it would give me a confidence boost to a degree, but I wasn’t expecting some of the outcomes that I’m enjoying. One of the biggest ones? I’m damn proud of my legs. Let me say that again….
I’m damn proud of my legs.
I used to dislike shorts. I’d wear them if it was extremely hot, but tended to prefer pants. I really, really dislike my loooong skinny (and rather hairy) legs. I hated my knobby knees. I wouldn’t say they revolted me or made me want to cut them off, but I prefered to NOT let people see them because it gave them one less thing to make fun of. And yes, that continued well into my adult years. That slowly started to change in the last 4-5 years, but it was more “I’d rather feel a little cooler, and put up with the insecurities with my legs” than any sort of confidence that came up.
Late last year, and this year too, I’m damn proud of them. They’re toned. They’re strong. They’re smooth, because yes, I shave them. Why? A few reasons. I worked hard for them, and I don’t mind showing them at all. It started as an experiment, a psychological trick, to see if it made me “feel more like a runner” or if it boosted my confidence in myself in any other ways. I built them. I fought for them, And truth be told, boasting about my legs (shaved legs, no less!) feels somewhat at odds with my conservative religious upbringing (and strict, traditional family environment).
I look at it this way: I still have insecurities. I still struggle with self-doubt, and some incredibly dark thoughts. Less than I used to, but they’re still part of my life. But if I can look at this one aspect of my life that is a true source of pride, I figure that’s a pretty big step! And really, if I’m doing something for me, that brings me happiness and helps stabilize my mental health, isn’t stopping to worry what other people think pretty much negating the whole thing? And yes, I’m still have days where I wonder what people think. And then I wonder what they’d think after jogging a 5k with me 🙂
And a note for the few people who’ve criticized me for it: I laugh at you. You have nothing better to do than to binge-watch Netflix and to make fun of a guy who’s doing something he enjoys. I carve out hours (after work no less) to do this, and I do it for me. If you don’t like it, you can kiss my