My legs felt strong yesterday in the Strength and Conditioning class I have been attending for about two years now. I stepped aside and watched a guy load the sled with weights, more weights than I have ever pulled across the gym. He seemed proud of himself and confident he was going to make it the length of the gym. My coach cheered him on as he struggled to pull the iron sled, weights stacked just beyond the height. I felt a strange and familiar feeling boil up inside me, “I want to do that,” I thought. Standing on the sidelines with that feeling has been a theme throughout my life. I am a guarded risk taker, a stagnant adventurer, and I think I have spent equal amounts of my life running toward what I want as I have running away from what I want.

I felt myself walking over to the sled before I had time to think… that has been my condition lately, too tired to think, just do. I looked at the sled I had wanted to pull and saw a lighter version sitting right next to it. A smaller sled with fewer weights called to me and I thought to myself, “maybe that is too extreme, I should do the lighter sled. I don’t want to out do that guy…”

WHAT?!?! It was like lightening had struck the moment I heard myself.

Where did that come from?

Who put that thought there?

I shouldn’t out do him?

I felt seven again. That eager young girl that used to try and do everything my older brother did. I liked her. I grabbed the ropes and began pulling the sled across the gym. “I can do this! I am doing this!” I thought to myself. And I made it. The whole length of the floor, the same distance the guy had done, the same amount of weights… No one really cheered me on like they had him, in fact, I heard my coach say to the guy “oh she will feel that tomorrow.”

It was a beautiful moment in a journey of unwriting the narratives that have bound me. The narratives handed down through generations as we all struggle, search, and fight to find our spot in society. I have found myself overwhelmed with gratitude that I live in a country that has allowed me to questions these thoughts. To say to myself as a woman, “why not me? why is this just for him?” I am reminded of the women across the world that don’t have the privilege of pondering such things.

It is never as simple as a men versus women thing; instead, it is in pealing back the layers just enough to observe your thoughts and find the socialization and cultural identities heaped upon us cloaking our desires. I believe there are layers for us all.

Find them. Question them. And throw away the ones that no longer fit.