Every year between 2014 and 2019 I told myself that I was going to go the gym. Every year, I was going to get healthy…. I’m going to get healthy, I’m going to get healthy, I’m going to get healthy. But come the first week of January, or any time really, I would be in that gym for 10 minutes max.
Sensory overload is the loud noises of weights dropping. The massive amounts of people. Someone engaging me in a conversation that I really don’t care about. It's uncomfortably bypassing a group of extremely buff people on my way to the water fountain. Why do I drink so much water compared to everyone else, have they noticed that? Why am I sweating so much when that girl over there is hardly sweating? I can’t do this anymore,. Imagining the feeling that I get when my sweat rubs into the car seat is torture, and I’m certainly not showering here. In public. Ewww. This isn't even getting started on the sensory stimulation that occurs from the drive home when i'm already tired and burnt out.
I’m not going to the gym this year.
So much of being autistic is needing to mask, needing to conform to the norms around me. To do anything possible to avoid some random stranger from thinking that something is wrong with you while simultaneously trying to process and understand the different sensations and feelings that you encounter on delay. It’s exhausting, sometimes terrifying. This year, I’m accepting that going to a gym is not for me. Just the way I’ve come to realize that my style of learning is drastically different than that of many. It’s not better, nor is it worse. It’s me.
This year, I’m basing my health goals on me, and what I can do, not on what other people have done. Success for me is trying, failing, making adjustments, and finding a way to achieve my goals. You don’t have to do things the “normal way.” No one should ever have to do things the “normal way.” My favorite poem by Laura Hershey is titled “You get proud by practicing.” Let’s start with that, I’ve already got my yoga mat and some YouTube videos lined up.
From AE we wish you all the luck in doing the best you can with the emotional capacity you have, all in very non-normal ways. Here’s to 2020.