Today I faced a demon. (Spoiler alert. I won.) Not the fire breathing, horn bearing kind but the florescent lit, made of Lycra kind; I went to buy a new swimsuit. I’d put the task off for a while, telling myself that the saggy blue monstrosity I always wear is still in perfect shape. (It’s not. It’s a saggy blue monstrosity.)
To avoid buying a swimsuit I tell myself that swimsuits are magical things that never wear out or go out of style, so why bother buying another? Then each time I go swimming (and reality comes crashing in around me) I tell myself that I’ll buy a suit next time. Then I pull out the blue strip of stretchy fabric that lives in the far back corner of my lowest drawer, drag it over my body and rush past all the mirrors to plunge into the pool all the while thinking “they are not looking at you, they are not looking at you”. Because, even the special hell that is walking from the dressing room to the pool side is nothing, NOTHING, in comparison to shopping for a new strip of Lycra in which to take that walk of shame.
During the swimsuit buying process I undergo the nausea inducing pitch and yaw of my rational and irrational mind taking turns at the controls.
Rational Mind – We are going to buy a new swimsuit.
Irrational Mind – Run. Now. Preferably screaming.
Rational Mind – Just look for something with ruching in a bright pattern that won’t let the eye settle.
Irrational Mind – Swimsuit stores are full of poison gas. Flee now!
Rational Mind – No one really looks good in these things. Try to find a colour that compliments you.
Irrational Mind – If you stand here long enough, pretending to make up your mind, maybe you’ll drop five pounds by missing lunch.
Rational Mind – There is a perfect suit for everyone.
Irrational Mind – Maybe if I try on that bikini, the other choices won’t look so bad. And you never know, a bikini might just be the look for –
Rational Mind – Quit stalling and buy one damb it!
Irrational Mind – The sales lady is judging me.
Rational Mind – Agreed.
You see my rational mind knows that no one is looking at me, that there are lots of nice suits for every body type and that the joy of swimming shouldn’t sacrificed due to low self esteem. However my irrational mind is convinced of two things simultaneously:
- I will never look good in a swimsuit and should just wear a towel to the water like in the song.
- If I look hard enough I will find a swimsuit that, when tugged into place, will reveal the body I was meant to have. – The suit that will match (with outer beauty) the joy I feel while flailing clumsily through the water lost in the childhood fantasies (fueled by watching Splash twenty or thirty times) that I am in fact a graceful mermaid.
So I wait as long as possible to buy a new suit, before facing reality, a three way mirror and the awkward bumpy thing that is my body wrapped in Lycra.
Sadly (and happily) I was invited to a stagette party at a spa, with hot tubs, and saunas, and (probably) people who would be confused and upset if I spent the day sprinting from one pool of water to another, clutching a soggy towel around myself and muttering, “Shut up.” and “I don’t point out your bad dye job.” to the judgey voices in my head. So I put on my brave face and went to shop for a new swimsuit and…
Wait for it…
I had a great day.
I walked in to see racks of colourful Lycra, mocking me. But, I forced a smile onto my face and asked the sales lady if they had my size. I selected a number of swimsuits that held promise, then I held my breath and entered the change room.
The fluorescent light had a softer incandescent partner, illuminating the selection of suits waiting for me on hangers.
I prepared myself for the worst but found something unexpected. The first suit I tried on not only fit me…it looked half decent. In a daze of disbelief I pulled another on, then another, realizing that while not all of them were great (and none magically transformed me into a mermaid) that I actually liked some of them.
I was struck with awe. I was struck with gob. I was struck with a hanger that fell from the hook. But there it was…I was in the presence of… a good day swimsuit shopping.
I bought two suits. Well one, and a pair of ladies trunks (where the heck have these been my whole life?). Spa here I come!
Who do you share your writing with? Is it a best friend, a spouse or a writing group? Who would you be terrified to share your writing with? Would it fill you with dread to show a piece to your boss a judgey relative or a stranger? Choose someone who you would never dream of sharing your writing with. Think about why you feel that way. Now pick up your pen and start writing with that person as your audience. The piece could be a letter to them, or it could be a piece of fiction. It could be a story you think they wouldn’t enjoy with a twist to bring them around to liking it. Whatever you choose your goal should be to work your fear of sharing with this audience into the story without fear because you never have to show this to that audience. I think you’ll be surprised at how powerful addressing your fears can be. Happy writing.
PS. If you like what you wrote, be brave and share it.