Wednesday, June 04, 2008

My Space-Time Continuum

The theme for this month's Scientiae Carnival is Added Weight. The following post was inspired by that theme and the further elaboration upon it in Zuska's call for posts.

I have always been tall. By the time I was in fifth grade, I was taller than my teacher. I outgrew my mother and my older sister by the age of 12. My adult height, 5'11", puts me in the 99th percentile for American women.

I was never thin, either. I was big enough that my classmates thought I was a lot tougher than I actually was. A girl who bullied many of the other girls in elementary school didn't pick on me thanks to my size.

My physical appearance was the object-of-ridicule of choice for my classmates in junior high school. It didn't help that in my family, caring about your physical appearance was discouraged and I wore hand-me-downs and clothing from Goodwill. It also didn't help that I bathed too infrequently for this culture. I felt extremely self-conscious and I wanted to just disappear.

Things were better in high school. I was still somewhat eccentric in my appearance, but I managed to fly under the radar. Nobody but my friends really noticed me and that's the way I liked it. I remained mostly anonymous through college, except for friends and my professors (who noticed my hard work more than my physical presence).

In grad school, I began packing on weight. After a while, I decided to lose that extra weight. I joined Weight Watchers in 2003 and became a lifetime member in 2005 after losing a total of 68 lbs. I also took up karate and became much more comfortable with the location of my body in three dimensions.

As you can see, I've always taken up a lot of x-y-z space. I can't really do much about the amount of space I take up in those first three dimensions, but -- as if in recompense -- I often find myself trying to take up as little space as I can in the fourth dimension (time).

My goal is for people's experience with me across the fourth dimension to be positive. I know that I tend to be long-winded (think about the length of most of my blog posts!) so I try to keep real-time interactions to a minimum. I want people to remember me as interesting and friendly but not a time-sink.

If I can avoid taking up people's time, I do so. I prefer to look on the internet first if I want to know a store's hours or inventory, for example.

If I can minimize the amount of time I take up, I do that too. I try to learn everything I can on my own before asking someone else about it, for example. This is a good trait in many ways, in that I'm usually much better prepared to ask the optimal questions that will help me find out what I need to know.

But, I realize, sometimes I don't take up enough of people's time. I have not asked for help when I needed it, because I didn't want to waste someone else's time, or interrupt the important things they were doing. Instead I wasted a lot of my own time, but since it's my own rather than someone else's it somehow seems all right to squander it.

I've failed to make others take the time to notice me and have missed opportunities because of it. I have been invited to participate in things, but convinced myself that the other person was just being polite and I would waste others' valuable time.

But I am slowly coming into my own. It helps that I have a very avid, 28-pound fan who can't get enough time with his Mama; a husband who has spent nearly ten years of his life with me; and a boss who makes time for me and some colleagues who take the time to listen when I speak. Maybe, I'm beginning to realize, I am worth even more than the time of day.

And that is a good feeling. Losing size in three-space is hard, but paring down in the fourth dimension is a hopeless business.


Amanda said...

What an inspiring post! I try to avoid taking up people's time, as well. But it's true... you are worth the time.

acmegirl said...

Great post!

Instead I wasted a lot of my own time, but since it's my own rather than someone else's it somehow seems all right to squander it.

This is really poignant. I think we all feel a bit like this from time to time, but it really isn't true.

It helps that I have a very avid, 28-pound fan who can't get enough time with his Mama...

The little fans can be the most enthusiastic! I always feel better after getting the "we love mommy" treatment.

Good luck in continuing to increase your fourth dimension!

--elf-- said...

Oh, I'm guilty of this as well. Even for little things like counting out the exact change for my coffee while waiting in line. I think it was really important in my family not to be a bother to anyone, but it can grow to be counterproductive when I refuse to ask for help!

lost clown said...

I would love for you to take up my time.