Surviving a Summer Shame Storm

The summer heat and humidity in NYC is the real deal, y’all. I always assumed that the farther north you go, the less heat you have to deal with (hey, I never claimed to be a meteorologist), but I was all kinds of wrong and have resigned myself to breaking a legit sweat every morning on the way to work. By 9 am, the subway stations are already like an underground sauna…and not in a good way (is there a good way?).

I know I’m from Houston, where it’s hot and humid pretty much all year – but it’s different here. Mainly because in Houston, I go from my air-conditioned apartment to my air-conditioned car to my air-conditioned office, gym, store, etc. In NYC, the walkability is amazing but also means that to do anything in the middle of summer, you’re going to be outside and you’re going to sweat.

For someone who prides herself on always being completely covered because of my rampant self-consciousness, this weather presents a new kind of dilemma for me personally. My usual wardrobe of jeans and shirts with significant sleeves have become more and more unbearable. I finally got to the point that I actually decided that my own comfort trumped my fear of other people’s judgment of my looks – and I wore a dress out in public, including my office!

I know for most people this wouldn’t even rate a blip on the radar. I, however, can count on one hand the number of times I’ve worn anything but full-length pants/jeans, since it’s not something I feel comfortable doing. And since my recent subway interaction, I’ve been even more self-conscious and down on myself than usual.

For some random lady to pass judgement on me while I was just trying to get to my office makes me super sad on so many levels. I forget that people can be so cruel sometimes, and it took me a minute to even register what she was trying to say. She felt like I was taking up her seat space…and while I honestly didn’t even think I was (because as someone who isn’t tiny, I actually pay attention to that sort of thing on my own literally all the time), that doesn’t even matter. What matters is she poked me in my most vulnerable spot ever. That poke sent me into a downward shame spiral that ended with me in the bathroom at my office in tears and wondering why I can’t get my life together and just be like “normal people” who don’t have to worry about this kind of thing. I know, I wasn’t necessarily thinking my most logically.

Especially after that experience, it would’ve been so much easier for me to just continue suffering in my multiple layers of clothes so that I wouldn’t give people, in my mind, even more ammunition to judge me. Instead, I decided that I didn’t care what other people thought of how I looked. What mattered most is how I felt…And I definitely felt slightly cooler.

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