Do you know Alan? You should! He’s lost over 140 pounds, and is doing a triathalon soon! He’s an awesome athlete. It’s ironic that Alan posted this this week because I’ve also had several innocent assumptions this week come at me in the wrong way. I had a doctor’s appointment with a new practitioner, and after discussing my weight loss goals, he looked at me quizzically and said, “But do you exercise?” It was really hard for me not to pull out the sassy-snarky-sarcastic card that I play so well and be like “Nope. Not at all. In fact, I only move about 12 feet total each day, when I wake up in my bedroom and commute down the hall to my office for work.” However, my face probably showed some irritation as I patiently explained that yes, I hike, I do yoga, I run on the treadmill, I walk, I zumba… I am active. I know that it’s his job as a doctor to make sure I’m getting some physical activity, but I more resent the idea that just because I’m heavy, it’s assumed that I must not move. In the past, I’ve actually whipped out a business card for this blog at doctor’s appointments, just so I don’t have to explain the whole history of my ridiculous weight loss/gain/medical maladies. I may do that next week when I meet with a new endocrinologist… or maybe I’ll just get a t-shirt made that says “YES. I exercise at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes. YES, I am still obese.” (but I’d probably add a smiley face to the end of it, cuz that’s how I roll.) (This same doctor told me to lose 100 pounds. I actually did laugh (politely) in his face and said “Yeah, not gonna happen. I’m cool with just 55 more.”
(Underachiever? Nah. Realist? Yah.))
Then, as if once this week wasn’t enough, I also tried a new fitness class at a new studio. While this comment wasn’t so direct, I got more of the “Oh, have you ever done this before? Is this your first time trying it?” all the while being corrected about the moves. Innocent questions, but perhaps because I’m already sensitive about the whole weight/exercise thing, I felt a tad annoyed as I explained that I’d done this particular type of exercise several times for several years, but that I just like to try different classes. These things come up all the time for all kinds of different people. I know that my single friends hate how people always assume they’re lonely or unhappy. There are a million different assumptions we make about people at any given time, and that’s fine, because it’s human nature. But maybe if you’re going to assume something, pause for a moment before verbalizing. I have to work on this too. As a chronic sufferer of foot in mouth disease, I definitely have said things I shouldn’t have, or made assumptions, or reinforced stereotypes… and I’m workin’ on it. And that’s fine. We will never be perfect at never offending anyone or hurting feelings. But, we can work on an awareness, a type of “sympatico” that you gently roll around in your mind, reminding you that next time you want to blurt out something like “Good for you!” to the heavy person huffing and puffing around the block, they may not need those kudos. AND, those words of encouragement? Might actually be kind of a downer for the person on the receiving end. While the intentions are good, of course, remember what Alan said. You never know where someone is at in their journey.
Where have you experienced an assumption that didn’t quite jive with you? I know it happens with career types (like assuming because I’m a social media manager, I update my Facebook and watch YouTube videos all day), body types, ethnicities, hair color… you name it! I guess any trait could create an unwanted assumption, couldn’t it?