It was my 3rd lap around the track, my eyes focused where they always did, straight at the ground… because this time I had company. A group of college-aged “boys,” all fit and healthy and doing sprints, I guessed practicing for future track and field competitions, but I didn’t know. On any normal day, if I’d seen my track company I’d have turned right around and went back home, but this time I somehow mustered up all of the courage I didn’t really have and began my workout, staying on the far outside lane willing myself to become as invisible as possible. I had decided walking on the track was the better alternative as the night before I’d woggercized out on the road and had 2, count them, TWO, not the usual one, different cars full of rowdy 20-somethings roll down their windows, honk their horns for 20 minutes and catcall at me. The negative judgement on my outward appearance, having not the slightest idea of me, the person, made me want to crawl into a hole and bunker down for the millenium. I’m used to it… or I tell myself I should be used to it. I get stares and points and comments all of the time… words and looks that chip away at the little bit of self-confidence I have left.
But I tell this not for pity… I know I’m not alone… I know there are people who experience things like this on a scale far higher than I can ever fathom… I tell this because as I was rounding my 3rd lap staring at the ground and trying to avoid all eye contact with my group of “fit boys,” one of them went out of his way to show me he saw a person with thoughts and feelings and dreams and struggles, just like him. He crossed the track into my line of sight, put his hand up for me to give him a high five and simply said, “You rock!”
I was taken aback… I didn’t know how to react at first… this was new… it made me feel like a worthwhile human being… and we can’t have that. My smile was wide as I thanked him and continued on my way… but this time with a little extra pep in my step, tears welling in my eyes. Kindness made all the difference. Thank you “fit” track boy… you have no idea what a boost you gave to me when I really needed it… It cost him nothing and made this stranger’s faith in humanity a little bit stronger. You rock, fit boy! Be kind… it’s free!