One glance at my Instagram account and you can easily tell I'm not one to shy away from the camera. From my travel selfies to faux-candid shots with friends, it's pretty evident that I live up to my Leo astrological sign and bask in the spotlight. But what my Instagram doesn't tell you is that it took me years to feel confident enough to post a photo of myself and even longer to feel comfortable posting one of me doing what I love most: working out.
Of course there were several reasons for my past hesitation, but the main one stemmed from my insecurity about being labeled a false athlete. I had never been the star at sports growing up. In fact, I'm sure it comes as a surprise to all of my high school friends that I've run multiple marathons now. And, as an adult, I still did not consider myself on par with the fitness editors and influencers I saw crushing it on Instagram. I was afraid that if I opened up and shared a photo of myself working out, I would be the recipient of eye rolls or criticisms. I had convinced myself anyone who saw me post a sweaty workout pic would instantly think: "Her? She's definitely not an athlete."
That simply isn't true. And, of course, I see that now. But, believe it or not, it took a few months of quarantine workouts to get to that point. Although I had fully embraced an online, at-home workout life (and was really thriving with it, might I say), I was having trouble connecting with others. I couldn't turn to my best friend after a spin class and comment on how sweaty we both were. I couldn't turn to my neighbor in HIIT class and give them the congratulatory high five at the end of a particularly difficult AMRAP. But what I could do was snap a pic of myself beaming in my sweaty, endorphin-filled moment and share it with my friends on Instagram.
Despite my hesitations around posting a possibly unflattering pic, or worse, one that my followers would laugh at, I found that sharing my workouts was actually a fun moment for me to virtually connect with my friends. I would get messages about my workouts, inquiries as to how many miles I was logging that month, notes about the UA Sportsmask ($30) I was sporting while outside on a run, and, most importantly, I was getting words of encouragement from friends.
Beyond the virtual connections my workout selfies provided, they helped me grow confident in my own progress. For the first time in a long time, I was challenging myself with new, intense workouts, and I was seeing results. I was proud. I saw myself progressing and I wanted to share my efforts. It may seem self-serving, but I quickly realized self-confidence doesn't just come when we accept ourselves at our worst, it also comes when we celebrate our best.
Ultimately, the more I shared my workouts, the more comfortable I felt accepting myself as an athlete — as someone worthy of the beads of sweat on my forehead.