Bigger Expectations: Learning How to Push

Bigger Expectations: Learning How to Push

- in Columns
Photo: Krystal Marx
Photo: Krystal Marx

A few months ago, I took a pole dance class.

During that class, I was confronted with what my body could/could not do and what I thought my body could/could not do… and it changed me.

Hell, I was changed even before I set foot in the door; for the week leading up to the class, I was brainstorming and talking with my husband about all the things fat men and women are told they can’t do or are too scared to try, and how I could help them face their fears. I was so fired up about facing a fear of my own – being sexy and vulnerable and moving my body in such a different way – that I felt unflappably powerful and capable of helping others.

Then life happened.

I lost my job, became severely depressed, stopped almost all activity, and felt myself slipping further and further from where I am happiest, healthiest and most ‘Me’.

I stopped pushing.

“Pushing” is the act of moving forward towards a goal. It can even be as simple as forcing your way through daily challenges. Whatever that looks like for you, it’s essentially what I stopped doing. I don’t want that for you.

So…how do you “push”?

Acknowledge that shitty days happen.

Notice your feelings. Feel them. Realize they aren’t permanent – you won’t always feel scared, or anxious, or guilty. When you stop resisting something, it’s a lot easier to let it go.

Challenge how you’re feeling now with how you’ll feel if/when.

Those feelings of fear, anxiety and guilt are very powerful, but they aren’t immortal. If you find yourself paralyzed at the thought of moving forward (with a goal, a dream, or even a basic, daily activity), think about how Future You will feel once you’ve accomplished that thing. Think about how good it will feel to own that sense of accomplishment, to feel proud of yourself, to be able to look back and see all that you did to get to where Future You is now.

Celebrate the small victories.

We humans are freaking hardwired for instant gratification, any my generation even more so. What do you expect when you grow up with cable television that lets you watch what you want when you want it, microwaves that cook food in a quarter of the time an oven would take, and personal transport beams that beam you across the world in half the – okay, maybe that last one is my inner Trekkie wishing a little too loud, but you get the idea. We get things so quickly! I think that’s why it sucks so bad when we have something scary or challenging that we want to do but only see checking it off of our bucket list as the victory. Instead, try to see each completed step along the way to your goal as a mini-victory worth celebrating, and you may start noticing that the next step is a little bit easier.

Don’t let yourself lie to yourself.

Does that make sense?

Here’s an example: When I was unemployed, I sent out roughly 10 resumes a day nearly every day for four months. Some days more, some days less, but we’ll call it 10, on average. Each time I would get a rejection email in reply (if they even bothered to reply), I would mutter some self-soothing platitude about how “I didn’t want that one anyway” and convince myself that it didn’t matter…when, in reality, it did.

Being rejected hurts, even when it’s a factual rejection based solely on job experience and the employer’s perception of whether or not I could do the job in question. The problem with lying to myself (saying that I didn’t want that position anyway) is that not only was I not allowing myself to feel that disappointment (acknowledge the shitty, remember?), I started telling myself that I didn’t want jobs in those fields anymore, either.

If you find yourself wondering what it would be like to take on an activity, please don’t just stop at wondering. I understand the fear, self-doubt and mind games we can be weighed down with, but I also know how sublimely freeing it is to step out from under that as well. You truly are limited only by what you believe you can or cannot do, and that’s what Bigger Expectations is all about – proving to myself (and, hopefully, you to yourself) that not only is it okay to have goals at any size, (dis)ability, and experience level, but it is okay to strive for and reach them.

Remember how I was all fired up about finding ways to help plus size men and women face their fears? After pushing my way through months of yuck and doubt and life circumstances, I’m ready to push toward my goal a little bit more…which is why I’m launching my Dare to BE challenge page! Check it out here!

The gist of it:

What if I did the thing you are scared of, and reported on my experience for everyone to see (pictures, YouTube videos, blog posts and all)?

Here’s the catch:

If you tell me what it is you feel you can’t do, or are too scared/self-conscious to try, I will do it…but then you have to promise to do it, too.

Sometimes, you just need to see that something is possible, that a fellow plus-size human took that challenge by the cajones…and didn’t die.

Dare to BE,



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