When I think back to P.E., sports day, any physical activity in school it fills me with dread. When I walk across our local flats I’m haunted by memories of cross country, which 9 times out of 10 was on a muddy, wet, miserable day - me at the back of the pack. My face resembling that of a tomato, out of breath, lacking confidence, walking and dreading the thought of the up and coming, what can only be described as, mudslide, I had to get up (I slid back down, a lot!).
I wasn’t the most athletic in school, I was small in height, uncomfortable about my weight and more importantly I lacked so much confidence. On many occasions I "forgot" my kit, but soon learnt that didn't matter at school, you could wear a musty top from lost property.
I wish sometimes I could go back and speak to my younger self. Weirdly now, exercise and sport are such an important part of my everyday life. I still lack confidence and know deep down I probably don't try new classes as much as I'd like to, but for me, exercise is the way I keep a handle on my anxiety. When I wake up with that feeling I just can't shake or, I've had a stressful day at work and my mind won't rest, what's my sanctum? The gym, a class or the pavement.
I'm so happy to now see campaigns such as #ThisGirlCan, encouraging women of all ages, shapes and sizes because it certainly wasn't around when I was in school. I can think of many girls who ran at the back of the pack alongside me during cross country, wanting to give up, lacking not just body confidence but, self-esteem and feared being judged. The sniggers and looks when you came in last, all red-faced, sweaty and muddy, memories all until quite recently I'd rather of forgotten. Not now, now they spur me on. Why? because I gave it the best I could at the time, back then I didn't know what I was feeling was anxiety, we didn't talk about mental health in school.
What I'm trying to say is, I remember the feeling back in school, that it would never get better, but it does! Find whatever it is that takes that feeling away, makes you feel better and embrace it, whether it's singing your heart out, drawing, reading a good book or speaking to someone. It may not come overnight, it certainly didn’t for me and it took a while and a lot of courage to get in the gym but for me what takes that “feeling” away is exercise and I bloody love it!