If you follow along on Instagram, you’d probably notice that I will rock a pretty sweet pair of blue trunks with purple passionfruit’s on them when I head out for a swim.
You must be thinking either one or both of:
1/ ewww, speedos!
2/ he must be pretty confident to rock those
Let me answer those thoughts in one hit.
No, confidence is not the reason I rock these, I actually battle with it every time I throw them on.
Because the fear of judgemental thoughts like ‘eewww speedos’ have controlled many of my decisions for most of my life.
My primary school was great. Super sporty, heaps of extracurricular activities, close to the beach, so cool… but it was also incredibly cliquey, judgy, egotistical, all about status and a huge emphasis on what was deemed to be ‘cool’.
If you didn’t fit these materialistic values and standards, you were not cool. Not just labelled ‘not cool’, you were often not included or respected.
Trigger Pants (Peninsula people will know)
Carried yourself with a confident swagger
Acted as though you had it all sorted
Great at sport
Uniform with the school emblem, otherwise it was clearly from Target, and that ain’t cool!
These weren’t just the behaviours of the ‘cool’ children, but the ‘cool’ parents and ‘cool’ teachers too. I guess that’s why this culture was rife amongst the kids. Monkey see hey.
I was quite a shy kid, but comfortable and confident in places of my own strength. My mum was and still is very reserved and hermit like. She is extremely empathetic towards others, but her shyness makes it a struggle to show it. Although she is very good at putting herself in others shoes, she fears judgement, and probably due to that fear she can get caught up in having her own strong judgemental opinions towards others.
Her shyness and fear of judgement certainly rubbed off on me as a child. But so did her value for empathy.
In late primary school I felt like I had two options:
1/ Be me and accept the possibility of not being accepted by the ‘cool’ kids. Which is hard when you have worries about judgement.
2/ Be a follower and behave like a cool kid.
I swayed between both.
I had a great small crew of friends. We weren’t the cool kids, but we were pretty happy amongst each other. Heading into our final year of primary school I begun to figure something out.
The cool kids get picked for the A grade sports teams, the better parts in the production and the spots in the HPV (human powered vehicle) teams.
I started to hang out a little more with the cool kids.
I didn’t completely detach from my friends, we were always fairly tight. But I did veer off.
Guess what happened…
I played a good position on the A grade football team.
I got a few lines in the production.
I made the HPV team.
Guess who didn’t get any lines or make the HPV team?
My best mate, who was practically a replica of me. He didn’t conform with the cool kids. He was just as worthy as I was. I knew he was shattered. I didn’t do anything about it either, what can you do when you’re 10.
Now you’re probably all thinking, “oh my goodness what a horrible school! What kind of primary school selects kids based on status!?” I didn’t realise this until the past year when deciding on a school for my daughter. In their defence, the education was fantastic and I’m sure the place has evolved. But I certainly learnt a few lessons on the toxicity of cliques and poor culture.
Moving on to high school the tables completely turned. The cool kids from our school split off to other schools, but none went to mine. My closest friends did though.
I envisioned the start of high school to be a clean slate, no defined cool kids. So I went back to being me again, it was where I felt morally my best. I never felt comfortable forcing myself to be with people that weren’t me.
But unfortunately for me, my closest mate decided conforming was the way to go and within weeks I was punched in the face by his new ‘cool’ mate and down and out with my closest, longest serving and only true very best friend. I moved to another class with another close mate. But once again, he chose conformity and I experienced the worst year of my life. My nickname was ‘little bitch’, and according to my mum I frequently returned home with dirt all over my face and in my hair, I must have blocked that part out. My trust in others was shattered.
From that year onward, following a change of schools, I was very cautious. I didn’t want to conform with those that weren’t me, I didn’t want to be uncool, I wanted to be myself, I feared what others thought of me and I was terrified of looking vulnerable and weak.
You could confidently predict that secondary school was a mix of fear, joy and uncertainty.
Changing schools was the best decision I could make. My friends were unreal and still are to this day. They may love to take the piss and enjoy plenty of banter, but we were a judgement free zone. But the scars from the years earlier cut deep.
I would shake like a leaf in an English presentation, I would go bright red at any suggestion of a girl, I avoided the cool and cocky kids like the plague and my heart would race every single morning as the bus rolled up to school.
As crippling as it was, I knew I didn’t want to feel like this forever. So inch by inch and step by step I pushed myself outside my circle of comfort. I started by pushing through the areas where I was comfortable.
On the footy field
In the gym and fitness space
Surrounding myself with more like minded people and people who encouraged and supported me, the more positive experiences I had, the more confidence I found in being me.
This formula worked.
The past 13 years I have used this formula on repeat. And my confidence has grown and grown. I am the person I am today, the leader of the most wonderful gym community imaginable, a podcast host, and a growing leader amongst CrossFit affiliate owners, because I continue to push my boundaries and back myself in. I believe it is the only way to reach the goals you are striving for.
I want to be the person that doesn’t worry about judgement (perceived or real) in every aspect of my life. Not just in the areas that are my strength.
This is why I wear budgies. To me, budgies are at the peak of polarised male attire. They’re a love or hate, or more than anything, a cringe. To be honest, I never cared for them either until the past 10 months. I reckon they’re ace.
Comfortable and unrestricting. It is very hard to go back to boardies after you experience the freedom of a good pair of speedos.
But for me, to wear them down at a packed beach or pool, my judgement fears go nuts. But I keep at it. Every time I head out in them and have a good or even neutral experience, my confidence grows. But I still feel I have a long long way to go.
My end goal… to rock them wherever, whenever with not just zero fears, but zero thoughts at all. I want to feel exactly as I would in a pair of boardies. If I can do that, I could only imagine the level of “not giving a fuck” I would have for any judgement. If I can have minimal judgement worries, I feel my opportunities to be and do whatever I like blows wide open!
That excites me.
“There’s nothing really that great about being cool. Cool is, by definition, self-protection.” – Brené Brown