comfortable skin

‘Hello! My name’s Flex and I’m here to help your muscles get strong,’ the stocky instructor said. I nearly choked on my Coke Light. Flex? I quickly wiped the liquid dribbling down my chin.

‘Hi,’ I replied weakly. I didn’t expect the gym to allocate a trainer that quickly. Too many days since my last run and a rotund tummy was starting to get to me, and I knew I had to start running again, but after the last time I went out in the morning (about a week ago) I found myself severely disheartened. I don’t know where my motivation went.

Yesterday, while cleaning out my bag, I chanced upon a random voucher lying inside. ‘A two-week free pass to the gym? That might work’, I thought. And that was how I found myself there today, standing before Flex.

‘Look, I have never joined a gym before and have no idea how things work,’ I began. I didn’t want him to think that I knew anything about what I was doing. In fact, I think I might have unconsciously painted a pathetic portrait of myself, to kill any expectations he might have had. ‘You’ll be working with a complete beginner…’

‘No problem! I’ll take you through the equipment and start you on a course of workouts that will whip you in shape for your hiking trip!’ He enthusiastically pounded the table. ‘Do you want to start now?’

‘What? Now? Noooo… I’m not ready,’ I stammered. ‘How about a few days later?’

‘I can do lunch. You want to try on Thursday? I can slot you in at noon,’ he nodded, ‘Just send me a message with your mobile and I’ll slot you in.’

‘Okay…’ I meekly replied. Yes, I can see how having a personal trainer helps because I am now committed to a lunch-time workout. Me – the girl who always eats in to avoid jostling with the lunch-time crowd, who likes to kick back and chill, alone… will now be found sweating her ass off in front of a man named Flex.


‘Let’s use gaffah tape!’ Cutesy exclaimed, as we discussed the decor for the next campaign. I stifled a smile. Gaffah?

‘Will it be hard to edge the images of the dancer out if we shoot her against a background that’s not white?’ She continued. Edge? Did she mean etch?

‘It will take time but it’s do-able. And we’ll continue with the veneer effect…’ the designer answered. Veneer? Now I had to speak up.

‘Do you mean vignette?’ I smiled.

‘Yeah, whatever that effect is,’ he laughed.

‘Hey! You have white nostril hair!’ I guffawed. It was fascinating.

‘Ah, it’s the dust from the sculpture I was working on,’ he said as he grabbed a tissue to clean his nose out. ‘Maybe I should wear a mask.’

And that is how our weekly department meetings go. I like my team. They are some of the best creative minds I’ve met, who speak without an ounce of elitism in their speech.


‘What was the Sky Gym like?’ I asked the Husband on our way home. Months ago, he was offered several personal training sessions at one of the most elite gyms in our country and I know he enjoyed himself there.

‘I felt intimidated at first,’ he said, ‘Because that place caters to the rich and exclusive. It was always empty so the staff would be watching you as you did your workouts. I mean, they had nothing else to do. The view was great though, and the trainer was nice. I would have returned except… that place made me feel uncomfortable.’

‘What do you think of the gym we went to just now?’ I asked.

‘I like it there. I know some people may bemoan the fact that it’s common and crowded, which it is, ever since they lowered the membership price but I know if I’m a klutz there, no one’s gonna bat an eyelid,’ he said.

I nodded. It’s true. I liked being in that place because it didn’t feel extraordinary. If anything, it was common and approachable. Very much like the team of people I work with. There are no airs and if you make a mistake, it’s okay. It’s expected.

I want to be able to look back on a day and laugh at my plebian ways.


Stepping off the train, The Husband and I noticed a well-dressed chap walking ahead of us. Everything about him was perfect. His jeans hung at just the right places, the shoes were spot on trend and his clothes… well, let’s just say he looked like he’d just walked off the Sartorialist pages.

‘Why do I get the sense he’s too aware of what he’s wearing?’ I whispered.

‘I was just thinking that!’ The Husband exclaimed. ‘And that’s what makes his entire perfect outfit look a little wrong on his person…’

‘Maybe inside, he’s trying to be someone else,’ I answered.

How sad.

‘We are all freaks. Yes! Alone in our rooms at night, we are all weirdoes and outcasts and losers. Whether you admit it or not, you are all worried that the others won’t accept you, that if they knew the real you, they would recoil in horror. Each of us carries with us a secret shame that we think is somehow unique

And if we are, each of us, freaks – then can’t we accept what’s different in each other and move on?’

– James St. James

I want to be comfortable in my skin.

There is a line in my favourite Switchfoot song that goes, ‘We are a beautiful letdown, painfully uncool. The church of the dropouts, the losers, the sinners, the failures, and the fools…’

If only we would let go of the facade of perfection for a moment. We would finally be happy with who we are and cease from attaining the faultless life. Flexing our happy muscles then wouldn’t be such a chore.

(Sorry, had to use the word flex. It’s been ringing in my mind)


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