My brother has requested something less cerebral on the blog. Something more “day in the life.” He said my posts feel like being stuck inside my head. Hah! I thought after thirty years of being my brother he would know that being stuck inside my head is about as close to “day in the life” as it gets. A textbook introvert, most of my time is spent thinking, pondering, evaluating and obsessing.
“What do you want to know?” I asked. “About my boring life of going to my ridiculous job, working out at the gym and then going home to eat a plate of chicken and do homework all night?”
“Yes!” he said.
So a thing I do every day is walk on my lunch hour. I started doing this almost five years ago when my co-worker and friend, Amanda, decided she needed to exercise more and wanted to walk for an hour every day at lunch. It was a good excuse to get off my ass, socialize and spend time away from the office. This has turned into an almost-every-weekday walk for the last five years. Amanda recently left her job at my office to be a stay-at-home mom, so I’ve lost my walking partner, but I still go out every day and eat lunch at my desk when I get back. It gives me time to process my morning, lowers my stress level and clears my head. I can’t imagine not going. Prep for the walk is one of the many items in my super-OCD morning routine: pack clothes for lunch walk ☑.
I walk all year. In the spring and fall I walk outside, in the winter I walk on the indoor track in the (non-air-conditioned) intramural building, and in the summer when it tops 80 degrees I usually walk the air-conditioned hallways of the engineering building. Amanda and I started walking at the engineering building long before I became a student there. It’s a massive building, and combined with the animal science building, to which it is connected, it spans an entire block with long hallways and a square loop at one end that makes it particularly well-suited to doing laps. We picked it since it was the only building on campus that was both air-conditioned and large enough to walk back and forth inside without raising too many eyebrows. Yes. I “mall walk” inside the engineering building.
Depending on the day, I sometimes I do this in a tank top, a skirt and tennis shoes. This felt slightly less ridiculous when I was with Amanda and we were both dressed this way. Now the only thing saving me from total humiliation is the fact that these walks happen in the summer when the engineering building is nearly deserted on the second and third floors, where I try to walk to avoid detection.
Amazingly enough I have managed to avoid running into anyone I know during these engineering building walks. Odd, considering that I’ve now been a student in the building for over a year. I’ve not been as lucky outside the engineering building. Often I run into our student interns when they’re out living their normal student lives on campus. I imagine them thinking, “Jeez…what is Steph doing out on campus in that atrocious outfit? She’s embarrassing herself.” Several other times I ran into my good friend Sarah’s sister, a freshman at my college, during my walk. I believe I was alternately wearing a skirt/tennis shoe combo or a skinny jeans/tennis shoe combo. Both horrifying. My friend’s sister is gorgeous and dresses really well. She’s exactly who I wouldn’t want to see whilst dressed in a skirt and athletic shoes. I texted her after the last of several embarrassing run-ins: “Ha – you always see me when I’m wearing my super-dorky lunchtime walking clothes! I promise I’m not that unfashionable!” To which she probably thought – “Suuuuure you’re not.”
Often I see other women out in skirts and tennis shoes during lunch, doing the same thing I’m doing. Usually they’re in a group, and usually the group skews a little older. It’s obvious what they’re doing. But by myself in my skirt and tennis shoes, looking suspiciously like a traditional-age college student, I often get head-to-toe looks by other students and I know they’re thinking, “Is that what she’s actually wearing? Does she think that looks good?” I know this because I do the same thing to other people. Yes. I judge people’s outfits inside my own head. You know you do it too.
Luckily I don’t care enough about what people think of me to stop walking every day looking like the dork queen. Like most of us who have made it to our thirties know, the biggest nerds of our youth usually turn out to be the coolest, most interesting adults. So I embrace the dork and keep on truckin’.