This guy would not stop looking at me.
Every move I made, I felt like I had somehow offended or insulted this dude in some past life. Why does he keep glancing over his shoulder as if I’m going to attack him with a machete? And what’s with the scowl?
But this is not just an experience at the local gym. It’s a part of the intimidation factor. Many people seek to be part of something — social groups, athletic teams, etc. — which provide satisfaction on different levels. In our society, the high school football quarterback can throw touchdowns by day and be in a rock band by night. An issue with how people react to similar situations is what has always been wrong with society: People care too much about what others are doing.
Maybe it’s out jealousy and wanting to live through somebody else, or perhaps the shallow feelings abound when one realizes that his or her life is just not as interesting — and that is a sad state of affairs. Nobody wants to be presented with such a realization. But it’s not all bad; it can also open minds and open hearts. People in this world want to “belong” to something, and if you look around you can see how that is true.
Think of social networking. Think of all the people on Facebook and Twitter, many wasting precious moments of their lives to try to include others in what their days consist of and how they feel others should care. Why are many people not part of this whole social media round? My guess is that they see the big picture of a world going in a direction which is hazardous to social interaction. I don’t knock Facebook when it helps bring social change to a country like Egypt, but I do have a problem when it becomes the only source of communication between friends and confidants. Nobody will ever convince me that such behavior is normal or “the wave of the future.”
And I’m a victim of that. I have a Facebook account, for example, but I do it to promote my writing or stay up to date with old college pals. And as I likened the gym member to being intimidated or trying to intimidate me, it’s all part of our current social climate: Stay with what you understand and ignore the rest. That is a mentality of many people, sadly, from racists to bigots to kids being programmed by parents to not associate companionship with people from a different social group. I guess I just consider myself lucky to have grown up in a family in which nothing was really off limits in terms of discussions or social behavior. I was always interested in other people, and the older I got the more I wanted to meet new people. It’s the greatest wonder of life to be part of a group of people who “get” you. Why else would (most) people get married if it wasn’t for the fact that you want to spend your life with someone who understands everything you are about and can’t wait to learn more?
Life is just too important to let social stigmas get in the cross-hairs of social interaction. We, as a people, must learn and adapt and be open to different views. We must accept that not everyone loves the same kind of music, or dresses the same way, or likes to get intoxicated on the weekends. We must worry about ourselves and what we can control and think about why we enjoy the things we enjoy, rather than waste time getting upset over the characteristics or behavior of others who don’t deserve the time of day.
Intimidation reminds me of my first high school girlfriend … it was my “girlfriend,” but I couldn’t even speak to her in front of her friends. I was too shy and didn’t want to make an ass of myself. Flash forward eight years later and, boy, times have really changed. At least for me. I know what I like and what I need, but am still learning each and every day. And if you ever catch me at the gym, I won’t be the guy giving you the What the hell is that guy injecting into his arms look. I will be the guy smiling inside because each person is on their own mission to achieve happiness and embrace physical fitness, and having goals is something to admire.
See what I did there?
NOTE: I will no longer include music lyrics or other various quotes to conclude posts. I’ve decided it really is too cache. Plus, I don’t want to leave the reader leaving on a music lyric; I want him or her to leave thinking about what I wrote. Duhhh.