The T-Shirt that Made Me Cry

I was not a fan of gym class. It started out as “the monster run” 😒 in elementary school. It then escalated to “the pacer” in middle school, which was THE WORST when I had to run in front of whoever I was crushing on. I was sure their eyes were on me for every. Single. Lap.  👀                     

I lamented about it in my purple fuzzy velvet diary (complete with lock and key!)

I began my career of being a chronically disappointing team member when we played anything that involved teams. It eventually crescendoed to the one class I would skip in high school. The one detention I got was for skipping gym class.                                    

I began (voluntarily) going to the gym so I could tell any medical professional that asked me that “yes, I do exercise the recommended amount of time”. I began to like it after time. The terrible paranoid feelings I would get while exercising (with witnesses 🤣) went away. I would get coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts after each workout. It was pretty awesome.    

It began casually. I saw the clipboard at the front of the gym with a notice describing the “challenge”. The challenge was to visit the gym X amount of times in X number of days. I can do this, I thought to myself. Maybe I’ll complete something for once. 


Although I love routine, I’m not the best at being consistent and continuing tasks to completion. Which makes no sense and is frustrating because why do I get the bad part? I get the part with all the anxiety and fear, but without anything to show for it.                                             

For example, “things to show for it” could be counted as the following:

  • Successfully completing long-term projects in school. Especially the one where we were instructed to (at the same time each day) measure a shadow of a specific object. Preferably at ~5 am, which felt HOURS before my usual wake up time. Yes. Let’s get up after 5 hours of sleep and measure this shadow.                                                        
  • A “genuine” high school diploma, rather than a “general education development certificate”
  • A 2 year associates degree, which indicates it should take  two years but instead has been in progress since 2007 😖 

    New buildings were literally built around me as I made little to no progress. When I started my degree, smoking was cool(ish) and the one guy who vaped got made fun of mercilessly🤷🏻‍♀️                      

The waste. The waste of money and time with nothing to show for it. The guilt of being a waste of resources. 

I plodded through the challenge, dutifully placing a tally mark after each workout. There were a few times I wasn’t feeling it, but went because hey free shirt!                                                               

As time passed I got more excited about the shirt. I thought even more about my incompletes. This is the first thing I’m going to complete in a long time! It’s small, but it’s going to be the start of something. I can scale up from there! 🌱

I completed the challenge! 🎉 I was happy placing that last tally mark. I maybe even teared up a little.               

Time passed after the clipboard and notice disappeared. After about a month my curiosity won over my anxiety and I asked about the shirt. 

“You didn’t complete the challenge.” He said. I felt faint. 

“I think I did? I visited the gym X amount of times?”                                                     

“Sorry, but you didn’t.” He changed the subject to something else, while trying to remain cordial. I felt embarrassed, and didn’t ask more questions. 

I went to my car and cried, an overreaction to the situation, crying over a t-shirt was an overreaction. Feeling grouchy about it in the present, after so much time has passed, makes me feel even worse. Just a t-shirt. Why is this bothering me?                                            

I considered terminating my membership that day, rage quitting Cartman-style. When my husband saw me crying he also wanted to go and terminate my membership 🤣

I considered making my own shirt— a passive aggressive one? I couldn’t think of the right thing to write on it though. Any ideas?                                                   

I don’t go to the gym anymore, but I still go to Dunkin’ Donuts regularly. That’s something, I guess? 🍩