Upon leaving the gym today, I passed an older woman on her way in. She was adorably cute and all bundled up in a coat and scarf despite the 70 degree air. She could have passed by, avoided eye contact and continued on her way - like all the others had done - but instead, she looked up at me, smiled and said, "oh my, you look very fit!"
Sadly, it took me several steps to acknowledge her compliment, finally turning back around to offer an awkward laugh and to say thank you. But it got me thinking...why did those six simple words from a seventy-something have the potential to make my day? Why did I feel instantly lighter? Happier? More content with my body? And why did it take me so long to actually hear the words she sang? Was it because I expected her to berate my lack of layering on a November afternoon, never expecting a compliment? Or was it because I myself didn't believe the words she spoke?
I thought about this on the drive home. I constantly see - and frequently remind myself of - what I am not. What I cannot do. And why, in my own mind, I continue to fall short. Whether I'm watching Instagram stories of other people deadlifting more than I can, looking at pictures with bellies that ripple instead of roll, or just comparing myself to the person I think I "should" be inside my head.
Should. What an ugly word.
(v.) "used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticising someone's actions"
So I started thinking...what if I let go of "should", of obligation and correctness, and instead just basked in the beauty of those six small words. I am fit. I am able. I am blessed to be me. What if that was enough? What if I stopped criticising my actions, my inaction, or my (dare I say it) body? And what if you stopped criticising yours? What then?
Is it fair to say that we might then be, enough? Being capable - equipped - fitting - worthy - rightful - accepting of who we are today, tomorrow and tomorrow's tomorrow. What a powerful feeling that would be! We wouldn't need the words, spoken by a stranger, to validate the things we refuse to acknowledge because our imperfections, failures and flaws stand out so much brighter. No! We would only need our own affirmations, our own confidence and self assurances. Because we would be - because we are - enough.
And that is a very powerful thing. To be who we are and to be proud of that. To acknowledge that while each stage of life brings its own dings, dents and disabilities our enoughness never changes. To be courageous enough to bestow compliments, to ourselves and to others. And to, perhaps most importantly, believe and accept the words spoken. Because, we are e n o u g h.
Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well.