Saturday, January 01, 2011

Pump and Lift, Episode 20: Big Scary Things

A lot of big, scary things happened to me this year, and during the last six months in particular.

I began my year by teaching English to Korean college students, and ended the year (if not the semester) by teaching education theory to Filipino college students.

I finally passed the board exams in my field, and became a licensed professional teacher.

I contracted a horrible mosquito-borne disease that could have killed me if I didn't get treatment when I did.

But there are Big Scary Things... and there are Big, Fun, Scary Things.

I finished a screenplay in three months, and a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.

I finally came face-to-face with all the health risks that were coming my way, and ended up losing 20 pounds. Then I used that significant weight loss as leverage to get better clothes for myself.

Along the way, I made a lot of new friends, got to see a lot of new places, built up my resume, nurtured my soul in so many different ways, and (slowly) learned the value of patience. And laughing at myself, for that matter.

Still and all, even the fun things that happened this year ended up hitting a few raw nerves when I didn't expect them to do so - because they all forced me to ask the question that I never thought I would answer for myself: What would I do if I knew that I wasn't going to fail? 

And with that in mind, I have decided that 2011 is the year for me to face the biggest Big Scary Thing of them all: The Inevitable.

First and foremost of all: How about Those Last Twenty Pounds? Granted, I did regain four pounds over the holidays, but that's four pounds that I can deal with easily once I put my diet back into its regular rotation. After facing down the health risks and dress-size issues, however, the bigger issue that I'll be facing now is the psychological aspect of my weight loss, especially now that I have to start re-editing and re-tailoring my wardrobe until everything fits me perfectly. Honestly, I never really thought that I was using my body - and the clothes I wore with it - as a form of psychological armor, until I saw all of the changes in my character. In a way, I was opening myself up more to family and friends, and taking more initiatives in my relationships and career decisions. You could even say that I'm actually much friendlier and more confident now than I was at Size 16 - and that disposition, in turn, has also started manifesting in my wardrobe, especially now that I'm switching to more formal, form-fitting tops in brighter colors to go with my pants and skirts.

All of those above-mentioned changes, in fact, are beginning to affect the way that I look at my career and my love life, which are two of the biggest commitment-related issues that I'm facing right now.

Take my career. I'm actually quite happy with my job here at the University, to be honest, and I don't really see a reason why I'd want to abandon it at all. And yet, I have decided - after finishing and winning NaNoWriMo - that I will take steps to get my current manuscript to a major publisher before the year is over. That means I have to stop worrying about the things that haven't happened yet, and start accepting The Inevitable that comes with this situation. Maybe I won't have to quit my job at the university after all; maybe there will be a way for me to teach and write at the same time, in a way that is workable for me. Or perhaps I should stop worrying about becoming insanely famous and successful on my first try, and choose instead to be grateful for the fact that I've put myself through the publishing process. (I still have to remind myself that Hugh Laurie, for all his crazy success as an actor and comedian, is also a modestly successful mystery writer.) All that matters is that I'm out there, and I'm making strides.

Speaking of being out there and making strides, I think it's about time that I addressed the dating situation - because, really, I did spend a lot of time this year making excuses to my family and friends about why I haven't exactly found The One. Granted, I live in a small university town with slim pickings as far as my type is concerned, but - again - now that my body's changing, I think it's about time I addressed the part of the battle where I deal with how I attract good people in my life. That includes any and all questions about the image I want to project, including the things that make me feel beautiful and confident and approachable. (Really, messy hair and chalkdust-covered khakis don't exactly scream "confident.") I'll get into the details in a later entry, but the point here is that I have to start making more of an effort to make things happen at this point.

Make no mistake: 2011 is going to be a super-exciting year for all of us, in every possible way, and I hope that - by sharing all of this with you - I've been able to inspire you to strive for the best this year. Happy New Year, everyone!

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