When I reunited with an old friend last week, she greeted me with a shriek of excitement. “Oh my gosh!” she squealed. “You lost weight! You look so fit!” I bashfully thanked her for the compliment and tried to switch topics, but her one-track mind was unrelenting. “How did you do it? You must have dropped at least 15 pounds!”
“Twenty,” I murmured, not proud of myself. “I’ve been running a lot.”
“Oh, like in the morning? With the dog?”
“No, it’s not like that,” I clarified, nervously tucking a lock of hair behind my ear. “It happens when people hold the door open for me. I don’t like to make them wait, especially when the door is heavy.” And then I sprinted ahead of her because we were walking into Starbucks, and a handsome young professional was propping the door open politely while in no visible rush. I couldn’t help myself.
But then I realized, I couldn’t stop myself.
As women, we are constantly reminded by the media to be delicate, grateful, and polite. Only recently, when I stepped on the scale for the first time in years, did I realize how great an impact these messages had left on me. My unwillingness to inconvenience anyone, even people kindly extending a courtesy, had burned calories I never would have burned if not for the fear of disappointing strangers. Ironically, I now look even more delicate than ever, which will inevitably lead to more people holding those doors open. The cycle never ends.
In fact, I’ve noticed that my urge to run and help people through doors is getting worse. If I happen to walk past a person holding a door open for someone else, I will pretend that I was heading into that building, just to take on door duty. Once, I was three hours late to work because I got sidetracked in a neighborhood full of open doors. I know it sounds desperate, but as a result of my habit, my stomach is flat and my calves are toned.
What more could a girl ask for? A revolving door. That is all I ask for.
Whereas most people might view an open door as an emblem of opportunity, I view it only as a reminder that I’m not strong enough to ignore my neurotic people-pleasing tendencies. But at least I am skinny. And at the end of the day, isn’t that really the most important thing?