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Today I didn’t go to work because I’m on school holidays. I started the day slowly with a nice cup of coffee and wrote my first draft of the first of the short stories I had set myself to write. I did my reading for uni, both accounting and history, I started on my history assignment (due on Thursday). I even took some time out to watch tv and relax.

Yesterday I decided to challenge myself to do a pilates workout everyday on the holidays; I did the pilates video and then it was time to go to the gym. I really enjoy the gym, I try to work hard and so I can continue to be strong and build my strength.

Usually I have a good chat with the instructors at my gym, today I was chatting to a guy named Ryan, he is one of the staff members but he was not working today, he was just enjoying a work-out; the conversation went something like this:

Ryan: Hey, next time you use that equipment can you use the green weights, they’re sturdier; the red weights tend to bend a bit when you use them for that.

Me: Oh, I didn’t realise they were bending, oops, I’ll be sure to use the green ones next time.

Ryan: Cool. So how’re you?

Me: I’m good, I’m on school holidays; I’m a canteen lady now.

Ryan: Oh, how long will you be doing that?

BAM! It felt like a slap in the face – I was not ready for that. Such a casual turn of phrase but it really threw me. I don’t know what it is about Ryan but every time I chat to him I come away feeling like shit. I’m sure Ryan is just chatting and doesn’t mean anything by the comment, but I felt compelled to justify myself.

I have defences set up for when people at uni ask about what I’m doing, or when my family ask but I was in a workout head space and was not prepared at all for that question. It made me feel completely inadequate and small.

The other exchange (later in the same conversation) that added to this feeling was something like this:

Me: I’m thinking of getting a new gym program, I’m a bit bored of this one.

Ryan: You shouldn’t be bored if you’re working out properly…

SLAM! Thanks Ryan, not only have you undermined my whole life choice you’ve implied that I am lazy. I had to go to uni straight after this and I was feeling really quite depressed and anxious, the feeling wore off but I was really surprised by how much of an effect one conversation with someone I have only a fleeting relationship with had on my wellbeing.

I’ve come a long way on this journey but days like this remind me that I still have some way to go before I can feel confident in my choices in front on anyone. I know that I have made a good choice, I know that I do not have to justify my choices to anyone, that my self-esteem should not be shaken by what people say, especially when those people have almost nothing to do with my life, but sometimes your heart takes a while to catch up to your head.