Doing Whatever It Is “Like No One Is Watching”

three kids dancing and looking super happy
three kids dancing and looking super happy

You’ve probably heard that call to joy, “dance like no one is watching.”  Though I’m a bit jaded by its overuse, it came across my desk again this morning in an article from The Daily Om.

The article, “Like No One Is Watching: Shake Your Tail Feathers,” talks about how fun it can be to seek out our suppressed idiosyncracies and eccentricities–those delightfully individual and unique qualities and tendencies and traits that we’ve hidden from the world because they make us stand out as too different.  Or worse, we worry that people will disapprove of us.

It says:

Life as we know it is so short. Making the most of years we are granted is a matter of being ourselves even though we know that we will inevitably encounter people who disapprove of our choices. When you shake your tail feathers like no one is watching, you will discover that there are many others who appreciate you because you are willing to let go of any inhibition. By doing this you help others know it is okay. No one else in the world is precisely like you and, each time you revel in this simple fact, you rededicate yourself to the celebration of individuality.

As a recovering “people pleaser” who used to be (notice the past tense) crushed whenever anyone disapproved of me, I know what it’s like to pretend not to be a certain way, to feel as if I had to tone it down.

But one area where this article rang true for me today was in terms of fitness.  I’ve found that as soon as I find something I love, along come all sorts of “rules” about the way it’s supposed to be done, what it’s good for (fat loss? body composition? cardio strength? something else), whether I can do it and still do the other things I enjoy.

Right now I’m facing this in the wake of new (to me) information about the way my endurance training goals might push in the opposite direction from my body composition goals (I do want to get a bit leaner for the summer triathlon season, and, yes, for my fiftieth birthday!). Turns out (according to some sources) that those lean endurance athletes were always genetically disposed to be lean, not that they got that way from their training.

I’m going to post more fully next week about what I’m learning and hearing (blog post on cortisol–good, bad, or indifferent–coming right up!).  But today’s Daily Om came at a good time for me. How much do I want to be influenced by what people are saying as opposed to what I love doing?

I think for those of use who pursue our activities because we love them and who let ourselves be guided by that instead of by what we think we should be doing, setting aside the expectations of others and the social pressure to do “this thing in that way” can do a world of good.

That’s what was so great about Rebecca’s story of boxing and powerlifting.  We so love to hear about people who broke out of the mold and forged their own path that the Huffington Post picked up her story.

For every person who might judge or disapprove of an individual pursuing her goals unencumbered by social pressure to conform (feminists, anyone?), there’s a host of others who such examples nudge in the direction of going for it themselves (again, feminists!).

It’s really time to stop looking over my shoulder to see who is watching.  What would you do differently in your fitness pursuits (and your life) if you felt that no one was watching?  If you said nothing would change, congratulations!

5 thoughts on “Doing Whatever It Is “Like No One Is Watching”

  1. For me, truly nothing. But I wonder to what extent that’s just male privilege again. Not to say though that I don’t have complaints about my training. I hate how doing so much cardio and interval training takes away from my ability to gain strength, and I hate how when I tone it down to gain strength I lose so much speed so quickly! I want it all, and I can’t have it all.

  2. Oh, there’s is definitely someone watching me, and that someone is myself 20 years from now, when I’ll be pushing 70. I want that person to be energetic, curious, wanting to learn new things, with a heart, brain and bones strong enough to allow her to do things “like nobody is watching”. My mother is constantly judging me, calling me “hyperactive” because I exercise 4-5 times a week, and I respond to that by doing more! I think we all respond to cues in society, whether we’re aware of them of not.

  3. Great post – it’s definitely easy to get overwhelmed with all the info on how you should be doing things. It’s good to be informed initially but you can have too many different opinions expressed. I wouldn’t change my routine though. It might be a bit strange but I actually use the fact that people might be watching me to make sure I have the best (safest) form I can!

  4. This comes up in different ways in terms of how we live our lives. I think a lot of women don’t cycle to work often, because they worry waaaay too much how sweaty /dishevelled they’ll look at the office before they change..which many seem to want shower each time after a bike commute ride. (Seriously, even when it’s cooler?)

    And don’t get me started about women who worry about helmet hair if they bike to work, shopping, etc. In fact, since cycling as part of my lifestyle in the past few decades, I’m always amazed to see well-dressed women….just to go shopping. (Understandable if they are full-time mothers since getting out of house is a pleasant break for them.)

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