Not Everyone Will Be Supportive, But That’s Not Your Problem

The July Project: Day 6

A couple of weeks ago, I was four miles into the daily routine when I had to stop to take a stone out of my shoe. I was at the park early because I had some evening plans. It was a blistering-hot afternoon, so when I finished tying my shoe, I sat on the shaded bench for a moment, mopping sweat.

Just then, an SUV drove by, and a teenage girl hanging out the passenger-side window yelled something in my direction. All I heard was, “…get off your ass….” Any other pearls of wisdom she wanted to offer were lost as the vehicle sped away down the park road. I said out loud, “Are you talkin’ to ME?” I looked around—no one else in sight at the hottest part of the afternoon. She must have been talking to me.

I would like to have chased after the SUV, dragged her out of her seat, and (gently) pounded her head on the ground, while (patiently) explaining to her that I’d only been sitting there for a moment before she passed by. Since that wasn’t a practical option, I had to give myself a pep talk instead. You’re a superstar stud for doing this at 3:30 in the afternoon, no matter what some teenage bimbo stranger might think.

It’s easy enough to shrug off random acts of unkindness. She couldn’t imagine how far I’ve come and how much drive and commitment it took for me to be sitting there on that bench on that sweltering afternoon. And she was, after all, a teenage girl—a species that’s susceptible to outbursts of cruelty.

But what do you do when the unkindness comes from closer to home? It’s a strange phenomenon, but sometimes people will belittle your progress. They’ll feel the need to one-up you (“40? I’ve lost 60!”), denigrate your program (“Walking? Pilates would be much better.”), play the know-it-all (“Most people gain back all the weight they lose.”), or otherwise rain on your parade (“I don’t know why you think you need to lose weight anyway.”).

Are your naysayers envious? Competitive? Lacking in empathy? Just plain thoughtless? Don’t even try to understand their motivations. They’re probably not close friends anyway. Your real friends will always find something kind and supportive to say. They’ll tell you how great you look when you’ve just had a discouraging weigh-in. Even if they don’t understand why you’re doing what you’re doing, they know that it’s important to you.

To sum up:

Not everyone will admire what you’re doing. Some people will discourage you. But their cynicism isn’t your baggage, it’s theirs. Don’t bother carrying it for them. You have more important things to do, like getting healthy.

4 comments to Not Everyone Will Be Supportive, But That’s Not Your Problem

  • Donna

    Very nice entry! As one who teaches those darling teens, all I can say is that their bodies age much faster than their brains!

  • Edward F. Gumnick

    Yeah, I read recently that the frontal lobes—responsible for impulse control, among other important executive functions—keep developing until somewhere around age 25.

    But I guess yelling “Grow some frontal lobes!” at the girl would probably have been a waste of effort.

  • Anne

    As Daddy would say “Don’t let the bastards get you down!”

  • If you believed in karma, you could be comforted by the fact that this will bite her in the butt later. A friend will gossip about her online or she won’t get a date to the prom, or she’ll fail a test. She’ll be crying to her mom saying “why did this happen to me?” and the answer will be because she was a little brat to a complete stranger!

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