For the first time in 27 years, I got fired. It was a part time job, that I was doing for “fun.”
I attempted to teach boxing at a new gym. It was a crossfit kind of place with energetic instructors who wear headsets and bark in sing songy voices over speakers to get people excited. They teach boxing off an app. Yes, an app. 1 minute on airbikes, 1 minute, combos on the bag. Sounds easy, right? Well, yeah, once you figure out what group goes on the bike and what group goes on the bag, it is easy. But, not easy for me.
I was told I was not energetic enough. Even after they coached me extensively about how to make my voice change octaves, talk louder, softer, faster, slower. They taught me how to “walk with purpose” when approaching a client; to kneel down next to him to show how determined I was. They showed me how clapping your hands next to a person gets them to move faster.
However, I was unable to generate genuine excitement during the class. I couldn’t yell at them like Richard Simmons to do their combos faster. I guess that’s what happens when you put a depressive in a high energy job. To my credit, I told them this when I first saw the class.
Matt, the instructor, was a pretty blonde man with pretty muscles and pretty sparkly blue eyes. He was over the top exuberant when teaching combinations and danced to the music playing in the background while he blasted out commands on the speakers. He liked to high five people as they made their way from the bikes to the bags. He seemed like a nice happy guy. Next to him, I was Wednesday Adams.
I took Matt’s class and when I saw his energy, I knew I would never be able to teach that way. I’m quiet. Low energy, unless I’m drunk. Or angry. I am unable to get so excited about encouraging a bunch of people that I will try to high five every single one of them. When I train, I don’t get high fived, and I’m going to high five these people for their shitty boxing?
I told the manager that I am not a cheerleader type and would never be able to teach like that. He said maybe there was something else I could bring to it. He liked the fact that I was a real boxer. A female. A Golden Gloves winner.
What I do offer is a good knowledge of proper technique, fight experience, nurturing, and compassion. I’m repulsed by seeing terrible technique and will make it my business to work with people until they get it right. The reality is, seeing a room full of 20 people who don’t know how to box, whaling on the bags wildly, was going to drive me bitchcakes.
So the bigger question here is, why did I even try to do this? Don’t I know my skillset? I’m a grown ass woman.
As a struggling actress in New York, I had the romantic notion of waiting tables. After getting fired three times, I realized it wasn’t for me. It’s too fast paced; too many moving parts. I get overwhelmed. I was “in the weeds” most of the time. I’m forgetful. I don’t remember the onion rings or the dressing on the side. And I don’t think it’s okay for people to talk down to me. I’m also not ... perky. Not that you have to be, but I hear it helps with tips.
Does that make me a complete fuckup? Hardly, but that feeling is familiar. The fuckup feeling. It’s more distant now, but I remember when I got fired from my third waitressing job. It was in Gramercy Park in a place that had high ceilings and a jazz brunch and I immediately befriended the first gay waiter I saw, which was... immediately. I felt bad for him because I knew I wasn’t fast enough in my section and he had to take over some of my tables. I messed up too many times, so I was canned.
For some reason, this destroyed me. Why couldn’t I do a simple waitressing job? Even though I wasn’t “trying” to be a waitress, it attacked my self esteem. It was like a solid punch to the solar plexus. There must be something deeply wrong with me, I would think.
I tried to become a temp soon after that, but when I couldn’t type fast enough to pass the test, I did the only sensible thing. I became a stripper. Fuck waitressing.
After my meeting with the gym manager, reverberations of that insecurity resonated deep down inside me. But it was a very faint feeling. My biggest feeling was of relief. Being a drill instructor is not my dharma.
I have success in other jobs that require patience, thoughtfulness, being good with people, one on one and overseeing others in a quiet commanding way. I know I bring a sincerity to everything I do and I just can’t sincerely yell at people, who are not professional athletes, to train like their lives depend on it.
The manager and people who work at the place were uber nice and welcoming and cannot be faulted with anything; except trying to get me to be something I’m not, without knowing that I’m not cut of that cloth. My cloth is darker, a little rough, and fraying at the edges.
The bright side: It’s still normal for me to push myself out of my comfort zone to try to have different experiences. I’ve failed so many times in life that it’s not a big deal anymore; especially doing something I would prefer not to. The best thing that came out of this experience is that what I used to equate with self-esteem, is now self-realization; a story to be told, and later, become a memory.