A 40 year fear

Warning, this post starts out vague, but stick with it.

I leave in 3 weeks for San Diego and I’m excited to see my sister and to attend a workshop for my business. But, I fear I won’t look like the girls do in SoCal. They are all about looking gorgeous, and that, I am afraid, is not something I am familiar with.

I know what I need to do and where I need to go to look better, but I don't want to go. I deeply dread it. So many people seem to love going and they always look great. But when I go, if I go, I sometimes don’t even get out of my car. I sit in the parking lot and try to persuade myself to go in. But most of the time I just go to Starbucks or a drive thru and promise myself I will go tomorrow.

Finally, I get the nerve. I feel nervous and insecure. I am sure everyone is looking at me and wondering why I’m there. I don’t look anything like the other people that seem so at home here. I shouldn’t have come—who cares how I look anyway?

I start off by wondering around as if I know what I am doing. Then I see her, she comes towards me and asks if I need help. I freeze up and say, “No, thanks.” Then I dart off to the restroom where I waste as much time as I can before sneaking back out to my car. Why is this so hard for me?

Think I am talking about the gym? Nope. This is how I feel about shopping. Yes, shopping for clothes, shoes, or accessories.

After 40 years of avoiding clothes shopping and feeling clueless about fashion, I think I’m finally feeling more confident. But it took a long time and some really dear friends.

For me, I feel comfortable as soon as I step into the gym. Some gyms are intimidating and others more casual, but no matter what, I know what I’m doing there and I can manage just about any piece of equipment or fitness class. I’m pretty open to learn from others and to share my expertise. But one step into a clothing store….Especially those big ones with tons of racks of discount clothes, and I am toast.

Here is how I feel:

At the mall or any establishment where clothes or accessories are sold, I feel nervous and insecure. I am sure everyone is looking at me and wondering why I'm there. Wondering if I know how unstylish I am and maybe even thinking that I know what I'm shopping for. But I don’t know what I am doing.

I never know how to shop. I walk in and I feel a change in the air. It smells different, the lighting is weird and the clothes look strange. My stomach gets knotted and I freeze up.
I feel like the sales people don't really want to help me because I'm too much work. I don’t understand their language - fashion jargon and extended color naming is way over my head. Plus, I don’t ever think about accessories like shoes, purses or jewelry. No clue here.

I usually leave the store exhausted and feeling old and insecure. I rarely get what I go there for and I wonder why any woman in the world would do this on purpose.

This week, a good friend took me shopping. She dressed casually in a ball cap, a cotton top and shorts. She stayed nearby and asked me what I like. I thought she was going to just tell me what to buy, but she did not. She showed me some different tops and somehow read my mind, or possibly my face grimaces about which I had no interest in.

After I relaxed a little she showed me some things she thought I would like. They looked weird, but she said to just try them on and see. So I did. Some looked good and some did not. But each try-on got easier. Then I began to chime in about colors or styles I liked more. The time seemed to go more quickly and my “yes” pile started growing. My stomach was still in knots and my fear was only muted some, but I managed to buy 7 or 8 outfits for my trip to San Diego.

Ahhhh. It felt good to overcome that fear.

I am not sure if I can do it by myself, but I am sure I can call my dear friend when I need to go again.

When I think about those I’ve trained or coached, I wonder if this is what she goes through (or avoids going through) at the gym. When I meet her at the gym and I can see it in her eyes and body language; it looks just like all the same things I feel when I’m shopping. Fear, insecurity, overwhelm, and ignorance. And I know why I am there.

I am there to gently guide her and protect her and get her through it nice and easy. I understand that the exercises are not what she fears. The sore muscles are not a concern. She is insecure about a world that is not hers. Where she is supposed to go to feel and look good. A place that is supposed to improve her health and reduce her stress, but she feels stress from the moment she commits to meet me at the gym. She feels uncomfortable and out of her element until I can create a comfortable and safe place for her in the world that I feel most comfortable.

My goal is to make you feel at ease. To feel empowered about overcoming your fears. Walking into the gym (or for me the mall) is very tough. The excuses are endless for not going; costs too much, too busy, no time, too crowded, worries about doing it wrong, fear of judgment. You will breathe a little easier when you have a guide that will assure your security and comfort. I will be your native tour guide.

Contact me if you are intimidated by anything that is between you are your health goals.


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