Being Physically Weak

This is definitely not news to me. I’ve known this, accepted it and even embraced it as a part of me. Until now.

I’ve been absent here for a little while now, having been busy catching up on my life offline. That included getting a job to tide me through these 3 months while waiting for university to begin. I’d stopped working at the bookstore since mid-March and there isn’t a day where I don’t miss the joys and frustrations of book-selling. My parents, having always had a say in everything I did, told me quite forcefully to quit and look for a better paying job, which brings me to my point here.

I found a job at a restaurant.

And there is not a day where I don’t feel horrible about myself.

Way back when I was nine, I was exposed to the world of fitness tests. Basically, you had to complete five stations of physical torture then put yourself through a gruelling 1-mile run. This would go on for seven years. It is a national test meant to judge if you belonged to the gold-standard of physical fitness. Or silver, or bronze for that matter. I really can’t help feeling embarrassed telling people that I passed only thrice. Each year, when our PE teacher read out the “award list”, I would cower in shame, because “N” always followed right behind my name. If you didn’t already know, “N” also means failed.

I wasn’t an all-round failure though. I could run. And do sit-ups. Pretty well, in fact. However, in order to pass, you had to pass all six stages of torment. I couldn’t do a pull-up to save my life. I’m putting this out there for your benefit: The easiest way to kill me would be to dangle me above an abyss with only my hands for support. I’d drop within two-seconds (I’ll give myself that).

“Your arm muscles are very weak,” the teacher would say, looking at me with pity (and awarding me pity marks, bless her). Watching my classmates lift their bodies up 14 times without even a huff didn’t really make me feel better about myself. Instead, I proudly proclaimed to anyone who would listen that I hardly ever passed while secretly feeling worthless inside while at the same time trying not to (it’s complicated). I didn’t have the proper equipment to train at home and going to the gym at such a young age was out of the question. As a result, I came into adolescence with strapping calf muscles and very bony arms and I still look that way, except for well, softer calves.

I’m now assigned to send food to hungry (and angry) customers and I’ve got to master that before there will be an opportunity for me to do something different. By the looks of it, I’ll be polishing cutleries everyday for the next two-and-a-half months. I know I’d pissed the chef off by my physical limitations, but I’d rather it stay that way and piss off the entire kitchen by dropping their blood and sweat on the floor. I see younger and tinier people carrying up to four plates without a hustle while the 1.65 m-tall me finds it tough to serve only two. I constantly feel that I’ve let myself down for not being able to do so, even though I know it’s really not my fault. I have “weak arm muscles”. It’s made me question whether I’m really suitable to carry on with my job because I’m really far too tired to go to the gym to bulk up (that’s how you use it, right?) on my days off.

I’ll stay for now. I know that if I quit, the person who’ll be most affected by it will be me and taking into account all that happened in the last few months, I don’t think that’s a prudent choice. Besides, working keeps me busy and distracted from some thoughts I’d rather not be materialised. If anything, my cutleries are the gold-standard of shiny-ness.


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