Zumba: The official sponsor of ducklips. And you know that I say that with love. After all, just check out my FB photos for evidence that I too have suffered from the dreaded Ducklip Disease. But ducklips are now a regular part of my workout, thanks to my (obsessively) growing Zumba habit. I know, I know. I’ve been totally slacking on my strength training. I haven’t run a Tabata sprint in two weeks. But darn it, dancing is fun y’all and right now what I need most is fun. Because it turns out that’s all I have in my workouts these days. I still haven’t made any workout buddies and it’s not for lack of trying. Take this morning for instance.
I’d just finished Zumba, where I’d tried really hard to smile at people, make small talk during breaks, compliment people’s shoes and all those other things you do when you’re trying to make friends on the playground. Or as a grownup. And I thought it was going really well! I know some of the regulars’ names now and a couple of the teachers, I think, are getting used to seeing me there. At least I thought I was doing well. It turns out I’m kind of a creeper. A weird creeper.
I know this because I heard a couple of the women talking about me after class. They were saying how funny it was to watch me and how weird I am and even how they thought I was too friendly, butting into other people’s groups. And yeah, I am sure they were talking about me because I wore a distinctive skirt this morning and they mentioned that too. They even think my momma dresses me funny. These were women I’d tried to talk to. These were women who had been nice to my face. And these were women gossiping about how awkward and weird I was.
Now, one of the things I love best about dancing but Zumba in particular is that when you’re in a just-for-fun class with grown-ups it can be one of the most body positive experiences there is. Today there were women ranging from teens to grandmas and all shapes and sizes. Even the instructors come in a wide rainbow of ages, colors and body shapes. It’s a beautiful thing. And a non-judgmental thing, usually. I mean, we’re not competing on Dancing With the Stars, we’re just trying to get our sweat on, right?
But then, there I was listening to these women call me weird. Sigh.
Back in my old gym, had this happened (and it has – this is certainly not the first time people have laughed at me in the gym) I would have brushed it off knowing that even if these two didn’t like me, there are plenty of people there who do. Except that now, you know, there aren’t. I had a great community in my Y in Minnesota and I think I didn’t realize how much they protected me. Sure I think many of them thought I was weird too. But it felt more like they thought I was sort of adorably quirky. These ladies this morning left no doubt they thought I was the smells-like-poo-and-makes-jewelry-from-her-toenails weird. I was someone to be avoided. Someone to be talked about. But not someone to be talked to.
My heart kind of hurts. It was basically like my first day of Middle School, except now everyone knows how to put their bra on without turning the clasp around to the front and deodorant isn’t exotic. But the feelings, the girls, the locker room – pretty much the same. I’d forgotten how much being on the outside aches, because I’d been included for so long.
So I did what most of us would do, in that situation. I fought back tears, grabbed my kids and slunk out of the gym. In the car my son asked me, “Mama are you going to be sad your whole life now?” Which made the tears come even faster. “No,” I told him, trying to sound cheery. “I’m a little sad now but I’m mostly happy. You make me happy.”
As I have thought more over the incident today, two things occurred to me:
1. They may have a point. I’ve always been one of those who Tries Too Hard. At everything. And social situations are included in that. So maybe I have been trying too hard to make friends. After all, my relationships at my old gym took years to cultivate and were based on hundreds of interactions that built trust and cameraderie. That’s not something I can shortcut. Relationships take as much time as they take and while some people I seem to click with quickly, others not so much. And that’s okay. I’ve long had to accept that as much as I want everyone to like me, some people just won’t. End of story.
2. They’re only two women. There’s another lady there, who owns her own business and has 17 grandchildren and bunions but she loves dancing anyhow and… the fact that I know this much about her makes me think that she must like me at least a little bit. I may never win over those two (and who wants to at this point??) but that doesn’t mean I’ll never make friends. Plus I’ve already made some great (GREAT!) friends though my church and neighborhood.
3. (Or 2b, if you’re precise about thought counting). Women talk like this sometimes. I’d be lying if I said I’ve never done it. I WISH that I’ve never gossiped. But I have. And I know I’ve hurt other people’s feelings. Thankfully I’ve usually gotten the chance to apologize and hopefully I’m learning and getting better but no part of me thinks that I’m better than these ladies.
But it still hurts. Kind of a lot.
So here’s my problem. I don’t know what to do next. Did I mention one of the locker room divas is a gym employee? I fear that what I heard was only a small part of what’s being said. (Or maybe not. It’s not like people think about me all the time.) But if these women are queen bees or whatever then it doesn’t bode well for me for the rest of gym. Is this the atmosphere they cultivate there? Maybe this gym is just super cliquey. Some are. I’ve been in a lot of gyms and they each have their own personality. After this morning, I kinda wanted to quit. Just start over fresh at another gym. They have Zumba classes everywhere now. But then part of me doesn’t want to let them win. So do I keep going back and smile and them bigger and brighter than ever? Do I pretend nothing happened? Do I brushup on my street dance skills and throw down a challenge, solving our differences with a dance-off?? (And a movie deal?? Moms Stomp the Yard!)
Have any of you ever been in a situation like this as a grown-up? What did you do? What should I do?? I’m kinda terrified to go back to that class now… If I had friends to walk in with, it would be different. But I’m already feeling like a lone (weird) duck. Should I start over somewhere else?? Anyone else feel like they MUST make ducklips in the mirror when they dance?