I recently had one of those brutal yet eye-opening experiences of realizing that other people may not perceive me as the adventuresome, radical, freewheeling 22-year-old I was when my self-concept crystallized. Some 17 years, two kids, and a progressive neurological disease later my self-concept has not evolved. This may sound borderline psychotic to you, but to me this is the height of resilience. Shabam!
Humiliation is a gooey thing and I don't see myself washing off this recent discrepancy between my perception of myself and another's perception of me easily. One day in the distant future it will make a very funny story. At this moment it remains a festering wound. But let's go on.
The 2014 Winter Olympic games have just started. My athletic, patriotic, and well- adjusted older sister has always loved the games. Two years ago, she stood in my living room with tears in her eyes as the summer games opened in Utah. I could only assume an athlete had been killed by a wayward land shark in the opening ceremony; but no – it was pure American pride and empathy with the realization of the Olympians' dreams. Gheesh.
Which is why it is almost an out of body experience for me to be obsessed with these winter Olympics. You will not be surprised to learn that in high school I was in a fairly marginal social category. Because of my innate inability to care what other people think, this was never a problem for me. It did drive my letter-jacket-wearing sister a little nuts though (being only one year older, she witnessed much of my slinking around the high school with the skaters and freaks- my peeps). This Olympics is different for me because of the inclusion of a number of extreme winter sports such as slopestyle snowboarding and halfpipe freestyle skiing that appeals to my more extreme nature. Watching the qualifiers for women's slopestyle snowboarding, I was feeling sad that I missed my chance at greatness. Although the oldest competitor is 33 years old I convinced myself that at 40 (with zero snowboarding experience) I could take them all – if it were not for this stupid MS.
While attempting to drown my regret, the source of the misunderstanding mentioned earlier was becoming clear via texts (make it stop, please make it stop). Behaviors I had perceived as indicators of romantic interest were the actions of a well mannered young man, perhaps demonstrating how he would like his mother to be treated.* That is all I am going to tell you right now so let it sink in.
You might imagine I would go for the stereotypical pint of ice cream at this point, but you are drastically underestimating what my mind can do with a challenge. I could not have predicted it either, but I'm actually a little proud. My mind issued a clear directive: I was to get into Olympic form. Only wimps give up their snowboarding dreams (even if they did just develop them in one night of Olympic propaganda). I'm hardly a novice at this whole 'deranged-maniac-who-lives-in-my head-and-will-not-be-denied' situation. I've lived with her -my uniquely insane mind- for my whole life. So that's right folks; I'm in training.
One could be forgiven for assuming I would sleep off this latest delusion and wake up sane again. But no, there is no time for sanity when you're going for gold. I've already had a protein muffin, a 15 minute trot on the iGallop and 20 minutes of intense stretching. I downloaded three new fitness apps, ordered new sports video games for the Xbox and took my baseline body measurements. Mindful of the need for balance, I gave my body time to recover with an hour-long nap. Now I'm up, dressed in yoga clothes, and waiting to see what is next on my training schedule. Having already chickened out of my event (slopestyle), I'm sure Shaun White has had a less productive morning.
I'd better get to it since 2018 is only 4 years away. I'm willing to consider sponsorship even this early in my Olympic career. Shout out to potential sponsors: I am currently wearing Nike, Athleta and a bionic leg. Not that I wouldn't sell my individuality for sponsorship from Adidas or Lululemon.
*Minor details obscured to protect the last shreds of my dignity