Note: I’d actually hidden this post for a while, thinking it was way too personal to be sharing on the internet. And what if people were embarrassed that I was talking about this? So I’ve opened it up again. The post expresses my thoughts well and ultimately has a positive note. I’m filing this experience under “do things that scare you”.
I was looking at my Fitbit steps for the day today, pleased at how active I’d been. I was happy with how much I had done and that I hadn’t let being overweight hold me back.
And then I had the thought:
What if people think that I just faked those steps? That I couldn’t possibly have the drive to keep moving and make it that far? That I am just too fat?
Ouch. I’d hope people aren’t that hurtful, but it’s hard to tell sometimes.
I’ve always tried to stay active, even though my weight has been an upward spiral. The switch to remote working and then losing our kitchen for four months hasn’t done me any good, though.
My first Automattic Grand Meetup was wonderful. I loved getting to meet all of my awesome colleagues. Yet it was hard, too. I found out that we really are all human – not the shiny perfectness that occasionally comes across on Slack. Working at Automattic has done a lot to challenge me, especially the focus on diversity and inclusion. The Grand Meetup was no exception. I felt so insecure, awkward and off-balance due to constantly meeting new people and being so far out of my comfort zone. That’s mostly good, but it’s hard, too.
Thanks to Donncha for the group photo!
You may not be able to find me in that photo. I knew where I was standing and was able to find me, but I’m half hidden. I probably should have been at the front with the other short people, but I just didn’t want to. I wanted to be quiet and small. Looking back, I was feeling too out of my depth and far out of my comfort zone just by being there. Yet I was there and that’s an achievement for me.
I was also remembering the last group photo that I took part in.
Thanks to Mark for the group photo!
Our trip to Berlin was fantastic and I remember having a great time with the other short ladies at the front of this picture. That’s until I saw it, at least. And then I was so embarrassed that I’d taken up so much space. It wasn’t fair that one person was so prominently visible in the group photo. The clothes that I thought looked okay actually didn’t look very good at all after a long, warm day.
My criteria for clothing these days is that it covers what it needs to cover and hopefully stays in place. That it fits and/or looks flattering are bonuses. I’m trying to fix that with sewing, but fitting isn’t a skill that you learn overnight. I can’t just go out and buy clothes that fit me as I’m pretty uniquely sized.
Depending on the day, I can swing my Cape of Awesomeness around my shoulders and rock out – who cares what I look like? Other days, it’s harder.
Writing this post isn’t something in character for me. I’m very much in the “just get it done” camp – talking about feelings (and in public!) just isn’t done. Why would I ever make myself vulnerable like this?
All of the discussions around diversity and inclusion have made me think. Sometimes you don’t have to have the solution before speaking up. Just speaking up with a question or a concern can be valuable as it starts the discussion. That’s why I’m writing this post: I can sit quietly in the corner and let people make their own assumptions, or I can say my piece.
Diversity and inclusion are big, important topics and are helping include people who may really need that help. I got myself where I am all by myself – I can’t say that I have been held back due racism or sexism, or even a medical condition. But inclusion is about including everybody, no matter skin tone, gender or size. Given that, I shouldn’t exclude myself.
After Berlin and 15-20k steps a day, my feet were exhausted. I hobbled around Brighton the next weekend, still racking up 15k+ steps a day. I apologized to my wonderful colleague, who told me something that’s still making me feel better, more than a month later:
You don’t have the stride of an overweight person.
I’m not sure she realized how much a single comment could possibly mean to me. I hate the idea of being limited or held back by being overweight. I still do stuff (including climb Preikestolen), even though it’s so much harder because of the weight. I hate being left out and I hate being that person who can’t keep up. I feel like if I give in and let myself act overweight, I’ll have lost the fight forever.
I have never met a more diverse, supportive and kind group of people in my life. I don’t know the answers to a lot of the questions I have asked in this post, but I do know that I’m daring to ask myself these questions after being inspired by the people around me.