Five independent voices meet around 7:06 a.m. with the single given task of answering the following question: Who do you think you are?
There’s the jock who knows there’s a workout waiting and a pile of spandex at the foot of the bed to wriggle into and get out the door. From the jock, there is always the threat of abuse if I should “weenie out.”
There’s the rebel who knows no one would even notice if I showed up late to workout, or to work for that matter. They may not even notice if I didn’t show up at all.
There’s the nerd, who rationalizes that work pays while working out does not. Urging me to build a castle that will last, the nerd convincingly equivocates that if I skip the morning work out and do that at night I could get in to work a little earlier and achieve on two fronts.
There’s the girly-girl who knows that to keep up with the office Joneses in terms of hair, makeup, fashion, and accessories, I’ve already woken up too late to pull that much of myself together. Still, though, if I skip the workout, I could iron both a skirt AND my bangs.
And there’s the misfit who pulls the covers from the top of my cheekbone up over my head entirely, shutting out the world and screaming: “Just leave me alone!”
The question — Who do you think you are? — is being asked of all of them by my expectations, my self-doubt, my inner Principal Vernon.
All five voices sprang awake to the sound of the alarm, like any other morning. Only this time it was the first alarm — 5:15 a.m., which I’ve been setting dutifully and non-ironically despite never actually getting up at that time for the last three months. As always, inner-Vernon cracked the whip, glaring down his righteous administrative nose daring, yet fully expecting, all six to flounder and eventually fail. Apparently challenging each to success, yet actually trying to damn them to inevitable failure, inner-Vernon issued the challenge as he always does: expecting it to remain unanswered, planning on a sub-par response, and not-so-secretly gloating.
For a brief moment my arm swung a wide arc from under the covers to the alarm clock. Would it be snooze, or would it be off, up, out of bed, and on the way to the gym? In this moment, the voices joined forces and drove the arm down resolutely on the off switch. No snooze today. Today is not a day for snooze, despite rain, despite fatigue, despite general Monday malaise, there would not be snoozing today, there would only be swimming.
It’s no longer each against the others. Not only are they all kind of right, they are all actually necessary to succeeding in the fight against that jerk inner-Vernon. Alone, inner-Vernon rules them, crushing them with rules and ruling on the unacceptability of their actions. Together, though, they overthrow inner-Vernon and his self-righteous criticism.
The jock is the one who jumps in the pool and just starts swimming without thinking about anything other than the task at hand: 2000 meters before dawn, doing it.
The rebel, bastion of self-reliance, realizes that it couldn’t matter less whether anyone notices that workouts are skipped because WE notice, and that’s all that really matters.
The nerd figures out a way during laps 21 and 30 to still get ahead at work if we cut ten minutes off prep time by only half blow drying the hair and doing the makeup in the car.
The girly-girl who chose an outfit the night before, remembered to pack the matching jewelry, and knows more than one creative way to apply lipstick.
The misfit, having subdued the insecurity of the jock, realizes that he’s not so bad after all.
Empowered by this first time overcoming the seduction of the snooze, the voices have apparently coalesced into one resounding rejoinder:
We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole two hours in bed this morning for whatever crazy fitness goal it is you’re gunning for. We ARE gunning for it, too. But we think you’re crazy to make us tell you who we think we are. What do you care? You see us as you want to see us… in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is:
… a brain…
…and an athlete…
…and a basket case…
…and a criminal…
Does that answer your question?
Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.