Being the Only Me in the Room

Girl Gang photo by Omar Lopez, Unsplash

On goes the high-end leggings, you know the really expensive ones that supposedly makes you look fabulous while you workout, or at least that’s what I told myself when I spent over $100 on these fabulous leggings. On goes the sports bra, the cute tank, headband and to finish off this fabulously expensive workout outfit, the perfect pair of rose gold tennis shoes. Now I am ready to go to the hot and happening workout spot that’s all the rage!

I have been told that all of the people that workout here wear these expensive leggings- so I am certain I will fit right in. I am super excited to go, and I have been pumping myself up all week about how wonderful this workout is going to be for me. I swore that I would lose 10 inches in one workout. I am super amped and pumped to go. On my ride to workout I listen to some of my favorite 90’s hip-hop to get me in the mood for this great workout I plan to have.

Excited, I walk in and this place is all that I have imagined. Super swanky, hip, fabulous and everyone looks like a million bucks. “This is definitely the place for me,” I tell myself. Then it happened. Damn it! It happened. I got the side eye, the whispers, the odd stares. Then came the “Are you sure?” comment as I signed in.  I shrugged it off, and thought this isn’t happening, not here, not at this place! This couldn’t happen here. This is the hottest place in town to workout, surely, they have seen a few of me workout here. I am sure I am not the first. So, I let it go. Hang up my bag in the locker room. Grab my weights and my ball, and I get ready for this awesome workout that I know I am going to have.

I am slightly early for my class, so I head to the back of the room to make sure I get a good spot that’s out of the way, but still in good eyeshot of the instructor. Then it happens. Again, damn it. It happens. The instructor gives me the side eye, the all too familiar “are you lost, are you sure you are in the right place?” look.

But I shrug it off, maybe she’s just not use to seeing new faces in the class, so she’s trying to make sure that I am familiar with the workout. This is what I tell myself, to make myself okay with the odd discomfort I feel. Then it comes on full blown, one by one, the awkwardness, with the other people as they enter the class. Everyone’s greeting each other, hugging, catching up, and then it’s an awkward stop as they get close to me. They don’t make eye contact, in the “she won’t see you” kind of pause and walkaway.

Wow, this can’t be. I am dressed in the right gear, excitement in my eyes, and gumption in my spirit to try something new, but that wasn’t enough! It simply wasn’t enough to be a part of this unspoken workout society. Overall, the workout was great, all that I imagined, but the discomfort and uneasiness of the awkward elephant in the room killed my mood. My heart was broken! I was devastated. I built this experience up, and thought that it was going to be all that I imagined, and then I was let down.

When I signed up for the class, I didn’t sign up with a buddy, nor did I expect to see a familiar face. What I expected was to have a great workout and meet new people that I assumed were like me. I assumed they were like me, because they liked the same expensive leggings, they had the same great style and eye for fabulous workout gear, and interest in going to the hip, happening hot spots in town to have fun.  But I was let down. I was let down because they weren’t as ready for me, as I was ready for them.

I think that I am pretty darn fabulous! This fabulousness didn’t happen overnight. It took some time for me to get there, but once I decided that these curves, these full lips, thick hair and this caramel brown skin was something to be reckoned with – it has been pretty darn hard for me to turn back and forget that. That is who I am!

When I walk into a room, I am pretty darn certain that I am there because I belong there, and that I am there for a reason. I own who I am, and I am sure of who I am and who I represent. So why is it so hard for you to see that? Why is it so hard for you to be okay with me being okay that I am the only me in the room? I am not asking you to over compensate and make it known that I am the only me in the room! I don’t want you to feel awkward and obligated to engage in a conversation with me. What I want is for you to understand is that I understand I am the only me in the room, and rest assured, I am there because I choose to be – you don’t need to question it!

What I want is for you to eliminate the phony small talk, and be genuine. I want for you to treat me like you treat anyone else. I want you to not make me feel awkward, or for me to feel obligated to try to break the ice first. That I have to tell a joke about who I am to make you feel comfortable. I am just me, good ol’ fabulous me!

And I like all of me, with my curves, full lips, thick hair and caramel brown skin.

“She Speaks” is an anonymous blog series that allows women to share their stories without revealing their identity. It is designed to make sure that all women’s voices are being heard and is not a forum for passive aggressive bullying or anonymous bashing, of a person, group or company. If you want to submit a post to She Speaks, email shespeaks.inthecle@gmail.com.

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SHEnonymous

I give a voice to the women who are concerned about sharing their story publicly. My mission is to give a voice to the women who want to start conversations, but who are concerned with sharing their identity, for one reason or another. My posts don’t reveal personal details that can identify particular people nor do I promote bullying or bashing others. I am designed to give women who can’t share their names an equal voice in the important conversations we are having at She In The CLE. Want me to share your story? Submit a post at shespeaks.inthecle@gmail.com.

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Thank you so much for sharing this story. It’s never easy being the different person in the room. I hope you keep walking into every room with your head held high. They are all lucky to have you there!

  • Good for you sticking through the class. And it’s their loss! I joined Crossfit in my neighborhood a few months ago and it changed my body, attitude and soul. It’s like a personal cheering cult. You are welcome anytime as long as you don’t mind my non-fancy Target workout gear. 😉

  • Thank for sharing and I can understand that feeling. In fact it wasn’t until I connect with fitness groups and people that were more like me that I understood the feeling. On 5ks I’ve connected with the thicker girls and finshed races with then, I run with BGR as well as attend Yogis of Color meetups. There
    I realized that I never really relaxed and enjoyed workouts because of the internal dialogue going on in my head. Great post!

  • Sorry to hear you had this experience! As a group instructor, I am always welcoming to new people in my classes and get their name, experience level and anything to look out for injury-wise. I have also gone to classes on my own and I smile and say Hi to the regulars. Sometimes they’re friendly and sometimes not.

    You shouldn’t feel the need to spend $ on LuLu or whatever to fit in-this isn’t high school. You are welcome to come see me anytime at Cleveland Fitness Revolution. We do not ostracize people like that and we embrace fabulous! 🙂

  • Wow, I’m embarrassed that this is my hometown. I am so sorry that people were so racist and that they made you feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. I am glad to see that other people from She In The Cle have tried to help you find a place where that won’t happen and I really hope you don’t have that experience anywhere else again in Cleveland. I’d like to say that I hope you never have that problem anywhere again but of course, that’s not the world we live in.

  • Wow this is so shocking but sadly not surprising. I’m not sure I would have handled this with as much grace as you did. I hope you find a spot that is more open and welcoming!

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