When I was in junior high, I got bullied by my brother. He was being bullied at high school, and, being a teenager, didn’t handle it very well. He passed his anger to me, and I turned that anger and the taunts inward. I accepted that I would never be athletic, and that trying to change that was pointless.
Even when I did Tae Kwon Do for a while, I knew I wasn’t an athlete. I could memorize forms alright, but when it came to actually doing things, I fell short. 
In college, I explored some athletic things, but I always held myself back. I always believed that I couldn’t run, couldn’t get much stronger. That wasn’t me. I scorned runners while secretly admiring that thing they could do that I knew I couldn’t. 
When I did start running, and then backpacking, I began to get a new understanding of myself. Not quite an athlete, perhaps, but athletic. I could move my body and what it needed to survive across miles of mountains, through forests and across streams. What I looked like to others didn’t matter, because I could DO these things. 
For several years, I lived within half a mile of a CrossFit box. I would drive by, even walk by, but I never got the nerve up to go in. I blamed the fact that the website didn’t have any pricing information, but the real reason was that I was scared. I believed that I didn’t belong there. 
After a move across town, another CrossFit box opened near my new location, within a quarter of a mile. As if the universe were giving me a hint, pushing me closer to a kind of exercise that I imagined was far beyond my reach. 

Just to get my foot in the door at Arbor CrossFit, I’ve had to overcome a harsher critic than anyone external can ever be. To convince myself that I was worthwhile, able, took years. So if anyone there were to imply or outright state that I didn’t belong, I would shrug it off. Maybe even laugh and agree and keep on doing my work. Because I’ve already stepped over a much higher barrier than anyone else could ever generate.

There’s nothing anyone else could tell me that I didn’t tell myself for years. Not good enough, doesn’t belong, not an athlete. I don’t think anyone would, but if someone did try to tell me any of those things, I might cry. But I’d also burn with a desire to prove them wrong. I proved myself wrong, after all.

I haven’t done much writing lately. Fiction writing, that is. I wrote a few stories, then did some submissions, and then stopped when the rejections came back. Because there is this voice inside me that tells me that I’m not good enough. That my writing doesn’t work. That I’m never going to sell a story anyway, so why bother?

Writing has been something that I’ve been “good” at. To get to the point where I’m writing and submitting stories hasn’t been the same kind of difficult journey that exercise has been for me. Writing was my escape from everything when I was in high school. I’m well practiced at it, and yet, I meet with “failure” again and again and can’t seem to get myself in the mindset of working past it.

Sure, I’ve self published a number of stories, and I’m rather proud of my nonfiction offerings. But I’m not getting into a habit of writing fiction, which is the only way to really improve (practice). When I recently articulated to a friend the way I feel about my athleticism, I realized that I need to put that same kind of doggedness into my fiction writing. I have it in me to ignore the critical and just enjoy the workout.

Time to do the same for stories.

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