Take Me, Baby, Or Leave Me (to quote RENT)

I came across this quote on another blog the other day. I’m inclined to take it as a sign.

A little background: I had a conversation several weeks ago that convinced me that I’m just around the corner from that elusive “having it all.” The catch: I needed to recognize the signs and follow my instincts. So, yeah, seeing a quote so applicable to my life? Sign.

I’m a believer that everything happens for a reason, and that there is a plan for us – one that we may not always understand, but will be much better off once we finally accept.

That said, I’ve also been referred to as “intimidating” on more occasions than I’d care to admit. Why? I have no idea (honestly, I think I’m one of the least intimidating people in the world). Some claim it’s my looks. Some claim that it’s the fact that I have been pretty successful in just about anything I’ve set out to do. Some claim that it’s that I’m a group fitness instructor (and this one continues to stump me more than any of the others).  Seriously?

Now that I have you thinking I’m totally conceited, let me make one thing clear: I have spent most of my life feeling judged. Under the impression that I’m not pretty enough, or skinny enough, or smart enough, or funny enough, or any other something enough. I often just assume that people don’t like me, and wonder if I were just a terrible person in a previous life, and now I am left paying for the sins of a former me.

And yes, that is what has, in many ways, held me back.

And yes, I’m trying hard to stop letting it.

The fact is, attitude is everything. The way you look at a situation or a circumstance is the way that you will see it. I’ve spent a lot of time joking that I’m going to die old and alone. That my family has just stopped asking me if I’m dating anyone, because they know the answer is no.

Instead, I’m going to keep doing what I love, and doing it well. I’m going to keep positive and know that the happiness and positive energy within me is going to draw like-minded people into my life. I deserve to live my life and make myself happy rather worrying about what other people think about it. I don’t want to hold back, and I don’t want to settle. I want it all. I deserve it all. And when the time is right, I will have it all.

I shouldn’t have to justify who I am, and I shouldn’t have to apologize for my mama making me pretty, working my ass off for what I want, or loving exercise so much that I want to share it with others. You know why? Because it is the man who’s impressed by these things who is the right one for me.

A Little Reminder to Myself …

Came across this the other day (thank you, once again, Yogi Teas, for your inspired labels), and I found it particularly applicable this week.

I don’t know what provoked it, but I’ve been a little down this week. Feeling a little lonely. Alone. Ostracized. Excluded. I guess I was due for it – this year has been pretty free of lows for me.

That’s the thing I’ve never been able to quite conquer – the fact that I seem to be somewhat of a walking contradiction. I’ve never been afraid to go after the things that I want the most, but I’m consumed by fear of rejection when it comes to getting the one thing I truly want more than anything in the world. I love being around people, yet I find myself so crippled by fear of saying or doing the wrong thing, or what other people are thinking, or of judgements, that I have a hard time really being completely comfortable around anyone until I know that they are receptive to my friendship.

Much in the same vein, I do have trouble letting my guard down, and being vulnerable. Maybe it’s age, or maybe it’s just oversensitivity, but I feel like the few occasions in which I have allowed myself to open up, I’ve ended up getting hurt. I realize that pain and struggle is part of the process, but so much of me wonders why it has to be so hard for people to just be real. Say what they mean. Mean what they say. Avoid conflict. Though I’m starting to think that in my attempts to avoid conflicts, I’ve hurt myself – squandered opportunities, been passed over for someone more assertive. And that truly hurts my heart.

But I’m not going to wallow in the fallout of a bad day (which, by all accounts, should have been a great day – had I not allowed myself to feel like the outsider looking in). I’m going to use it as a learning experience, and motivation to know that something amazing is at the end of the tunnel. A reward for the struggles. To finally get that ultimate happiness that is sure to be the result of overcoming what may now appear to be impossible challenges. As much as I hate the saying “good things come to those who wait,” I do hope it’s true – because as long as I feel like I’ve been waiting, something pretty amazing has to be ahead of me.

Today’s Women “Marrying Down”? No Thanks, I’ll Wait for Prince Charming.

Earlier today, I came across a short article labeled “’Marrying down’ is an up-and-coming trend among women.” Of course, that prompted me to find the complete article. It went on to briefly discuss the findings of a Institute for Public Policy study, which found that women in their 20s and 30s are more likely to marry men “beneath themselves” – as in, those who marry men of lower income or social classes. (Interestingly enough, they found today’s women still tended to be drawn to older men.)

At the risk of infuriating modern women all over the world … this makes me really sad. Call me old fashioned – I know that I am – but I don’t want to be the high-earner in the relationship. I still want that man who will sweep in and take care of me. Essentially, allow me to work because I want to … not because I have to (thus allowing my someday life plan involving my mommy job of fitness instructor extraordinary to come to fruition). I don’t want to give up on my childhood dream of being a “corporate wife” – putting on a formal dress, dazzling his boss … essentially being one of those women my mom always found annoying (but she knew I’d be great at being one of them). I refuse to give up on my Prince Charming (white horse not necessary – but I will take a nice suit) … I keep telling myself he is out there. Somewhere.

Continuing with my sadness … I can’t help but wonder if such a mindset is what has brought me to very much still single at 31 years old. Did Disney brainwash me into thinking that men should always hold the dominant role in a relationship? Or is it because I was raised by a workaholic dad and a stay-at-home mom? Because honestly, looking at my parents’ relationship, and my childhood … it’s exactly the kind of marriage I want for myself, and the kind of childhood I want for my (someday) children.

I’m not a gold digger, and I’m certainly not willing to sacrifice love for money. I do think I’m a pretty strong woman, and I make enough money to support myself and still save for the future, while having fun and enjoying nice things today. That said, I know that I could never be with someone who would allow me to walk all over him. In my early 20s, I was in a relationship where I was the more successful person, and quite honestly, I did look down upon his lack of drive, or ambition, or desire to climb the ladder. It didn’t work because I didn’t respect him – and it was because I felt like he didn’t respect himself.

I know times have changed, and it’s not the 50s anymore. I’m probably angering some feminists by saying this … but I don’t want to marry down. I’m not comfortable being the more successful partner. I don’t want to be the one bringing home the bacon – I want to be the mom who is there to help with homework, or make cookies for the soccer team. Yes, I want to find that man who will view me as the most important part of his life. But, for both of our sake – I also want his successes to go far beyond just being happy with me.

The Best Year of Your Life?

This morning, I woke up to a conversation on the radio discussing the best year of your life – apparently some study determined that age would be 33. My thought? Excellent! I’m not even there yet!

I listened for a few minutes (good excuse to stay cuddled up in my blankets, yes?), and the conversation continued to explain that up until this point – and I’m guessing beyond, if you’d let it – your life just continues to get better.

Now, I’ll be the first one to say that I feel like I go through a bit of a metamorphosis every few years. At 31, I don’t feel that I’m the same person I was at 28, and at 28, I wasn’t the same person I was at 25, and at 25, I wasn’t the same person I was at 22 – and God knows I wasn’t the person I was at 18 when I was 22 (thank goodness!). I do feel that I’ve finally gotten to the point where, while I may not totally have it all figured out, I at least know what I want – and a lot of the pieces have fallen into place. I’m fortunate to say that I have a successful “real” career, a “play” side-job that I absolutely love, and I have made some great friends throughout my life. Yes, there is that one elusive piece still missing – someone to share my life with – but I’m continuing to have great faith that, as Kim (one of my very closest friends) always tells me, “he’s just not ready yet.”

So here’s to getting older! I think if nothing else, age has helped me become a little wiser, a little calmer (just ask my mom … or my high school friends), and a little more flexible. No, life is never going to be perfect. But I like to think that although I’m still not exactly where I want to be, I’m on my way.

Doing What I Love Couldn’t be What’s Keeping Me from Finding Love … Could it?

Last night, a question was posed that kind of – okay, really – rubbed me the wrong way: “Do you even have the time to date someone?” My answer: “Of course I do – I would absolutely make time for the right person.”

Now, I know you’re asking … what does this have to do with fitness? Well, fitness is a priority in my life, and between teaching five classes a week and my personal workouts, it does take up a chunk of my free time. But by no means does that mean that it is my entire life. With the exception of those five hours a week, I can be pretty flexible with my schedule. And I’m totally confident that I have the time and commitment necessary to be successful with both my fitness and the right man.

The truth is, for a long time – we’re talking (gulp … yikes) most of the last six and a half years – exercise has been all I’ve had, as far as love is concerned. (That endorphin high has to come from somewhere!) There has been a void in my heart, and instead of letting it get me down, I’ve filled it with sweat and muscle soreness. But I’ve also filled it with the love of the people who join me in class, who come to me for advice, and who have been there to push me, to encourage me, and, whether they realize it or not, help me put on a happy face, on the days that I feel crying. It’s helped me see that although I’ve been single, I’ve never truly ever been alone.

I have no problem admitting that exercise and fitness is a huge part of who I am. It wasn’t until I discovered how much I got out of it – as a former fitness manager once told me, “you were put on this planet to do this – to change people’s lives” – that I realized how happy it makes me. But could it be that the one thing that makes me happier than anything in the world could actually be keeping me from finding the one person in the world who will make me happier than anything? There’s nothing that could possible scare me more – because while I love the world of health and fitness, I know that there is nothing more important to me than finding someone with whom I can share my life and have a family. I don’ t think it should have to be a one or the other kind of situation.

Bottom line: I do know my priorities. It’s just that I’ve found myself significantly more successful on the fitness front versus the love front. But I’m confident  that there is an amazing man out there who not only understands and feels the same way I do, but will stand by me and be happy that I have been able to share my passion with other people (and who knows, maybe even give me a spot from time to time). I’m ready when he is. 🙂