We all know Gym Girl. We’ve encountered her—and hopefully haven’t been her—she’s gotten under our skin, and she’s slowly driven us mad, nearly to our breaking point.
You know who I’m talking about. Gym Girl is very different from Gym Rat, the avid fitness fanatic with 8 percent body fat whose sole purpose and existence is to sweat it out two hours every day and serve as the motivating kick in the pants you need in hopes you will someday look just like him/her if only you continue to up your fitness game.
But Gym Girl, well, let’s just say she’s the polar opposite of that. She’s got all the unbridled confidence of Gym Rat but without the chops to back it up. She’s rude without a thought at how her actions affect others. She’s the uncoordinated one who takes up that prime spot in the front row of every fitness class even when she doesn’t even possess a smidge of rhythm, throws the other 25 attendees completely off every song, and tries to overshadow the gym’s wellness director by shouting “1! 2! 3! 4!” (not on the beat, need I even add) despite the fact she’s not actually a teacher, but rather a cashier at a big-box store.
I almost punched Gym Girl in the throat recently. And then I took a deep breath, took a step back and reevaluated what it was that was making me so angry.
Gym Girl is awful, true, but at the core, she’s a metaphor for everything in our lives that’s diverting focus from the things that matter and channeling our energy into the things that don’t. It happens to me daily, particularly this last week alone. Without getting into politics—because who wants that?—the news is a complete mess, and yet, I can’t look away.
But I won’t let Gym Girl get to me anymore.
After nearly having it out last week when she literally stepped in front of (and almost on) me to try and claim her prized spot, I simply moved my mat to the other side of the room. I’m not going to do this square dance with her every morning, nor am I going to start my day off feeling annoyed and stabby (to the contrary, isn’t exercise supposed to up those endorphins?). And I’m going to start applying this simple logic to every aspect of my life.
I’ve never been great at focusing. As a freelancer, I’ve always got a dozen or so balls I’m juggling at any one point and it can be hard to stay on task. Working in the digital media realm, I’m also subject to a whole lot of noise—and it’s hard to just say “stay off social media” when that is, in fact, where your job lies. So I’ve simply adopted a new mantra: “radiate positivity; focus on the things that matter.”
If my head’s a mess? I’ll go on a run to clear my head, go to the store, go to the gym—do anything to break the routine. Someone posts an unsavory political rant on Facebook that doesn’t necessarily align with my beliefs? I unfollow (not necessarily unfriend) them. They have every right to say that—freedom of speech is one of the pillars of this fine country, after all—just like I have every right to ignore it. When it’s all too overwhelming or I simply can’t look away, as hard as I try? I implement an app like StayFocusd to block certain sites so I physically can’t log on anymore.
And Gym Girl, though a brat she may be, has every right to be in that class, and I have every right to ignore her attempts to get under my skin and move to the other side of the room.
Focus. Edit. Ignore. Move on. Those are going to be the cornerstones of my personal and business philosophy this year—at least, I’m sure as Hell going to try.
What are you going to do to drown out all the unwanted noise?