The Unfit One In My Friendship Group
If you saw the pictures of my ski trip recently, it would have looked perfect but the reality behind the image is I didn’t do a lot of skiing on this ski trip
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One of the main reasons for starting this Substack is the fact that I wanted to have a space again to talk more deeply about issues and actually be able to give context to the visuals. The problem with social media is that when you see a picture first, unconsciously, whether you like it or not, it feeds the narrative of the ‘picture-perfect’ life. Even if the caption after it tells you the truth and adds context, the image is what stays in your mind. If you saw all the pictures of my ski trip recently, it would have looked perfect but I want a space to talk about the reality behind the image.
The reality is I didn’t do a lot of skiing on this ski trip. I had a wonderful time, ate incredible food and left feeling really relaxed but the skiing itself was less than successful and to say it was frustrating was an understatement. The first run felt like the tenth run and after two runs, my body fully tapped out. It wasn’t just the skiing though. Walking to the chalet on the first day, I was at the back of the pack with people offering to take my suitcase for me. Even without the suitcase, I would consistently be the one keeping everyone waiting and whilst there is no shame around being the slowest, that wasn’t the emotion I was feeling.
I was feeling frustration because out of the entire group, I know I exercise the most. I am the only one who works out 5 times a week consistently and more than that, I had been the only one who had been specifically doing exercises to strengthen the muscles needed for skiing for the last four months. All that, and still, it didn’t cut what others are naturally born with. To do all of that and it still be worth nothing was demoralising to say the least. It reminded me of an instance when I went hiking with my sister and I really struggled. She was confused asking me ‘but you go to the gym five times a week?’. I responded ‘Yes, in air con, not in 95% humidity!’ and now I’m thinking it wasn’t the humidity.
The fact is I’ve been through 15 surgeries. My body doesn’t work like other people’s does and I have to work this hard to even reach the baseline that most people start on. I don’t have the ab muscles that most are born with because mine have been cut through 15 times. Not having the core strength you should has had a knock-on effect on other parts of the body overworking to compensate for my lack of abs. Covid has hit me 4 times and because of those illnesses, it seems to knock out my capacity to breathe more than the average person who isn’t vulnerable.
Unfortunately, everyone’s starting line is different. It can be true that you are the most unfit one in the group and also the one who exercises the most. It ended up being a great lesson in letting others help me, whether it was the suitcases or letting my boyfriend carry my skis. You don’t need to feel guilty for being less capable! You don’t need to feel shame about not keeping up with the rest! We were on holiday and the goal of a holiday is to enjoy yourself and if that meant, sitting in the chalet reading a book instead of actually skiing then so be it!
I joked on the ski trip that I might not be old but I definitely wasn’t 19 anymore and whilst no one else admitted it, they all took a day off at some point. I could blame it on the fact that the lack of snow meant it was icier than usual, that the slopes in France are more difficult than the ones I’m used to in Switzerland or even that I’d got the flu two days before leaving so my body was full of aches already but that would be making excuses for my body and I’ve outgrown doing that. My body doesn’t need an excuse. It is doing the best it can and if that’s not as much as other people’s that OK. We need to change the benchmark of what is good enough by not comparing our body to other people’s and accept that our body will grow and change in ways that aren’t always convenient for our plans and goals.
One of the main themes of this newsletter will be how I turn moments like this into opportunities for growth and this ski trip felt like the perfect place to start because it truly did teach me so much. I skied for as much as I could and discovered it was better to do something than nothing. It gave me an opportunity to heal whatever leftover shame I felt around my body not being able to compete and I had the chance to learn some flexibility. In life coaching, we always say that the most flexible in the room wins so I adapted to my change in circumstances, enjoyed time with each person when they took time off, had fun in the evenings preparing dinner for everyone’s return and made the most of the nights outs and the board games!
All in all, the ski trip was a success, even if the skiing wasn’t. Who said the ski part of the ski trip has to be the highlight?!
Lots of love,
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Have you ever felt like the unfit one? Ever struggled with not being able to keep up? How did you overcome that?
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