The universe is stirring up a big pot of reflection for me. Have you ever felt that way? Like things are all happening at once, and you KNOW it’s for a reason? The last two weeks have been pretty peculiar, and after a considerable amount of reflection, I’d like to share what’s happened.
About two weeks ago I was grocery shopping solo in the middle of the afternoon. I don’t entirely enjoy the grocery shopping experience, but FOOD. Must have, right? As I was standing in the aisle that hosts trash bags and paper plates, 3 men slowly approached the same aisle and walked by me and my parked shopping cart. While two of those men continued to shop for their items, one of the men (probably late 20s, early 30s) uncomfortably stared at me with his dark, chilling eyes and made an inappropriate comment about my backside.
I will admit that I approach the world in a pretty confident manner. I have my insecurities just like anyone else, but for the most part, I know and feel that I am a strong individual, both mentally and physically. I’m independent and am completely okay doing things solo. I’m not afraid to stand up for myself. I’m not afraid to defend.
But I froze. I didn’t say a word to him. I simply shook my head in disgust, muttered something under my breath, and I left the area. I remember thinking that maybe I shouldn’t have worn my workout leggings to the grocery store. I remember thinking that I should have said something back to him. I remember feeling that I was the one that had done something wrong.
No. Just no.
I don’t scare very easily. (Okay, scary movies make me scream like a little biatch.) But otherwise, I’m not SCARED of situations. I left the aisle and moved on with a thousand thoughts running through my head. But when the same guy showed up in a random aisle over by the office supplies, I freaked out just a little bit. I nonchalantly moved on and headed to the checkout lanes. No kidding – he was in the checkout line two lanes down. I stayed self-aware, and for the first time ever, I honestly became a little nervous. Not crazy nervous though. Remember, it was still light outside in the middle of the afternoon. My only disadvantage was that my “exercise-always-looking-for-movement-self" parked what felt like FOREVER away from the exit doors. I instantly called my wife, and we stayed on the phone while I loaded groceries in record time and drove away from the parking lot. Luckily I never saw him leave the store, and I kept a close watch in my peripheral.
I reflected a lot on why I froze. Why didn’t I say something? WHY DID I QUESTION WHAT I WAS WEARING? Why did I make it my problem? I didn’t ask for trouble. Nobody ever asks for trouble. Trouble acts on its own.
I also contemplated my own strength and power. What if I’m ever in a position that I need to physically defend myself? I lift ALL of the weights and I think I’m pretty strong and powerful. But let me tell you something that I hate to admit - my wife can still hold me down with one arm. FARM GIRL is strong. It’s ridiculous and although it’s all in fun, I’m always annoyed that I can’t get out of that pin. That’s also kind of scary to me.
While my afterthoughts of the situation were ongoing, I was also coincidentally staying up to date on the happenings with Erin Brown and her I AM POWER Retreat. I first met Erin at the Radiance Retreat back in March, and then I had the life changing opportunity to hear her speak at the Women’s Fitness Summit this past August. She’s changing the dialogue about body image and women and power. She brings ALL the feelings and makes no apologies about it.
I AM POWER attendees were posting powerful videos of their learned self-defense tactics, and seeing those videos and how powerful and dominant they became in their roles was enough to bring me to tears. Copious power and confidence. Just reviewing those videos in my head makes me push my chest out a little further into the air. Triumph.
More irony here though. Keep reading…
So I was leaving a different store two days ago. By the way, why do I always feel like I’m buying food? Anyhow, I was pushing the cart to my car in the parking lot, and on the way I passed two guys. “Are you shopping alone?” And I responded without skipping a beat, “Yes, and I plan to keep it that way.” I rolled my eyes on the way to my car, hopped in, and drove off a little less nervous than the time before.
I am not saying that I was less nervous because of my reflection. I think this just merely had to do with the different approaches from the two scenarios. The guy from the first situation had cold, dark eyes. The guy from the second situation had an ornery smile. While I thought both of those cat-calling men were complete idiots, I acted entirely different in both situations. The first one left me feeling powerless and fearful. The second one left me feeling annoyed.
All of this has created a huge conversation piece in my head. I have never been assaulted, but I think about all of the statistics with assault, sexual assault, and domestic abuse, and I can’t begin to fathom how powerless those victims felt. And what if they still feel powerless?
If the statistics are true, then many of you reading this blog have been affected by some sort of sexual, physical, or domestic abuse. None of those subjects are a platform that I speak on, nor are they anything that I’m familiar with. But what that DOES tell me is that there are women around me every day that may have been affected in the same manner and possibly feeling powerless or scared in their own skin.
My platform is empowerment. I want you to feel capable and strong and empowered. So while this blog might not be fitness related – it’s necessary.
I don’t really know exactly how I want to end this piece. There were so many common pieces that kept pointing back to my grocery store situation. And while I don't have the best answer as to how to defend a cat call, I do want you to know about how powerless it made me feel, and how much I regret that I let it make me feel that way. I know that I never want an unwelcomed comment to make me feel that way again. And I never want a young girl or a woman to feel powerless due to unwelcome gestures. I want women to unveil their strengths, be it in the weight room or in their jobs or in their homes. We are all strong, and we are all worthy of respect.
Leggings are NOT a solicitation for a cat call. I want you to know that, too.
You are powerful. You just have to believe it. I believe. I hope you do, too.
engage. empower. elevate.