To some, winning is defined as something that is tangible; placing value or worth in something other than you. And then for some winning is just defined by all of the hard work and effort that is placed into one moment that allows them to grow and learn from…
The hardest part of participating in a fitness competition is trying to be vulnerable; being vulnerable and pretending that you are comfortable the entire day. Yes, even through the fake eyelashes and the fake bronze-orange tan that streaks at the slightest droplet of water, you have to somehow allow yourself to become vulnerable and accept that you are not in control of anything. And I can honestly say that after Saturday, I felt vulnerable, drained, and wrecked. And not because I didn’t “win” or “place” in the top three, I could care less about that, but because it left me feeling about as raw as a freshly scraped wound that was in need of more than just a simple band-aid. Heck, even a white gauzed bandage wrapped around me several times couldn’t stop the vulnerability oozing out of me over the past couple of days.
And I really don’t like to be vulnerable. I don’t like to be in a situation where I lack control.
But that is just what I walked into that cold, windy Saturday morning in Massachusetts…
For awhile, four days, to be precise, I felt broken. And even when I honestly felt like there was nothing left of me to break, the pieces continued to shatter, day by day, and night by night. Broken and then swept away. Over and over again.
It kind of just felt like everything I had worked so hard for was showered away with the latest coats of my spray tan. I felt hopeless, lost, and detached from the actual magnitude of the situation. Where I once felt somewhat powerful and in control, I felt was stripped away from me from as early as Saturday morning, the day of the show.
Sunday morning, I felt physically sick and I felt the thickness of the stress squeeze my heart until it ached. As the day progressed and everyday thereafter, each time I thought about the show, I would start getting anxious and stressed out all over again. It was a constant state of feeling dizzy, lightheaded, and I literally could start to feel my heart as if it I was holding it right in my hands on my lap. By Sunday night, I threw up a few times, and for the next two days, I stayed in bed and avoided all phone calls and the Internet.
Maybe it seems silly or petty to some, maybe even insignificant, but part of me realizes that I am cultivating this anxiety until it starts breeding perfectionism.
When the show was over, I cried. And it was definitely not because I didn’t win or place, it was simply because of the tension that was between me and my body. It was, “Me versus the entire day.” It was like a bitter fight to the very end; a show with a stage of its own. It felt as though there was this constant resistance that I had to keep fighting to prevent it from crushing me or knocking me down. And as the day carried on, the resistance kept getting stronger; heavier, and the emotional and mental strain was collapsing well before I could physically. Any tears that tried to break through the surface were met with long thick eyelashes and the fear of not being able to avert another small disaster; smearing my spray tan.
I seriously felt like I crashed a party, drank too much, and then walked home in the bitter cold as the chill in the air ripped right through me.
The bottom line is that when you work hard and put a lot of effort into something you feel passionate about, when the end is near, you tend to breathe a sigh of relief, you’re excited but anxious, happy but nervous. You’re just filled with so many emotions because the day is here. The day that you worked so hard for is finally here. But when the day is met with disorganization and utter chaos, and people who make you feel like they’re doing you a favor regardless if you put in the time, money, sweat, tears, blood etc., emotions that are already high, tend to run rampant. At least they did for me.
Now of course I didn’t “know” what to expect going into this figure competition, but I had an idea. I mean, I wasn’t completely clueless. I had received all of the information ahead of time, planned it accordingly, arrived at the hotel earlier than expected just to make sure that I didn’t miss anything. All went smoothly, the check in, the polygraph, and all I had left to do was relax and wait until my night time appointment to get the first few coats of my spray tan. I was hungry and tired, but the only thing that rattled me was solely the anticipation that was leading up to the actual time of the show; the moment I would have to step on stage and desensitize the hell out of those stage lights with my Swarovski crystals. Oh and the sheer hope that I didn’t resemble a total Oompa Loompa; that the spray tan was dark enough to prevent me from looking washed out.
It was already guaranteed that I was going to look like an over-tanned cast member of the Jersey Shore, but I was at really hopeful that it would cover the stretch marks and cellulite that was going to be on display for the judging panel as well as an entire audience. (Believe me when I say that the lights were definitely brighter than the last show!)
The last show I did, I didn’t get yelled at, scolded, or rushed. It was much more organized, friendly and exciting. Sure, I had the usual nerves of walking out on stage, but nothing compared to Saturday. They held two shows that day, one for “Pros” and the night show was for “Amateurs”. The amateurs were supposed to start at 2:30 pm. However, sitting in that auditorium and watching the “Pros” compete, I knew that it was going to last much longer than it previously had stated, it was just a matter of when it was going to be over and more importantly when our show was going to start. Well, no one could tell us. So we just sat there growing more and more impatient, irritated, and stressed. After all, I felt some kind of entitlement to know what was going on; I did PAY to do this show. Not to mention, I was already agitated from having to stand outside of the building, in the freezing cold, naked in a small tent that not even my being in it could prevent the wind from blowing it around. I was also yelled at and scolded for not “exfoliating properly” while the woman spraying the umpteenth coat of spray tan on me dug harder into my skin with the tanning pad. I had to bite my lip and suck back the tears of frustration and anxiety to resist the urge to snap back at her because I had exfoliated, and I had paid her. Not the other way around.
Oh yea… but nothing makes you feel more vulnerable than standing naked with some woman scrubbing at your chest in between spraying another coat of tanning solution on you while simultaneously telling you how it’s going to show up on stage; it’s going to look horrible, and there’s no way that she can fix it. It was in that moment that my attitude changed; the bitterness started to unravel inside of me and before I knew it I was feeling even more insecure and isolated. Isolated because that’s what I do. I put up a wall and shut everyone out. And in that particular moment, I couldn’t help but look around and feel out of place and I started to question what the hell I was even doing there in the first place.
Feeling uncomfortable and bordering between anger, frustration and the little confidence I had left, I just wanted to just leave. But I looked at the small tiny faces in the audience and decided that I had to stay. Ah! But the day progressed onward in disarray, with the competitors meeting being held somewhere closer to 6:00-6:30 pm rather than 2 pm like it was stated. At the meeting, the order in which the classes were to go out on stage was discussed but quickly changed shortly after the meeting was over and after the competitors had made it back downstairs. In fact, I was just about due to get a touch up on my tan (I had a few streaks) and I was eating when I was informed that the figure competitors were due on stage at that moment. No time for touch ups, no time for anything. I was yelled at and treated like an overly tanned, overly made up hooker. Yeah. Figure that one out.
And just for shits and giggles:
By early Sunday Morning, back in my hotel room, I was able to wash most of the tan off: