My DragonCon milestone.
DragonCon was everything I thought it was going to be and more. I could blog today about the amazing people we met, the insanity of the crowds, and the overall experience that makes DragonCon the memorable mammoth that it is, but instead I’m going to talk about a very special thing that happened for me this past weekend. It’s something I did for myself that I never thought I would do at this convention:
I walked around with my shirt off.
Big deal, right? A shirtless dude at a convention. How stunningly original. What a shocking revelation. Lots of men at lots of conventions stroll around shirtless, in or out of costume. That I joined the crowd and took my shirt off in public shouldn’t be the subject of a blog post, but it is because it was a big deal for me.
I’ve talked about my workout journey over the past two years now, and documented my progress with the hashtag #BuffDadLegacy on Instagram and Twitter. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, given my plant-based diet and the limited time I have at the gym, but I have this terrible habit of comparing myself to everyone more successful than me. For all my progress and transformation, all I sometimes see is how much better (and bigger) other people are at building and defining muscle. Body image has long been an issue for me, and I’ve never had much confidence in how I look from the neck down. I worry that when I show off my body, even now, the reaction I will get is a mocking “That’s all you’ve managed to accomplish in two years?!”
At DragonCon, there was no shortage of shirtless men in small outfits. From Spartan warriors to barbarians akin to Conan himself, there were strapping male specimens in abundance. Men twice my size and half my age, with triple the confidence I’ve managed to scrape together since beginning my workout journey.
But on Sunday night, after our day was done, I built up the nerve to finally just take my damn shirt off and stroll around one of the crowded convention hotels. I didn’t know what I was expecting to happen. I didn’t know if I was going to be mocked or just ignored. But I knew that I had to give it a try. To just see what it was like to have the confidence to show off my body to a crowd of strangers. I tucked my shirt into my belt and went for a stroll.
Nothing really happened. I wasn’t stopped for photographs since I wasn’t in costume. No one pointed and snickered. I caught a few people giving me (what I thought were) lingering looks, but nothing more than that. But while nothing physical happened, something happened mentally: I realized I felt comfortable. Comfortable with how I looked and confident with my physical appearance. It was the first time I didn’t feel physically “lesser” despite the strapping young men twice my size and half my age all around me. It felt really, really nice to feel honestly proud of my accomplishments, even in the face of comparison.
And maybe that’s what I’ve truly managed to accomplish in these two years.
If Garth and I are lucky enough to get back in to DragonCon next year, and if I can continue to take care of myself, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll find myself a costume and go for a proper after-hours DragonCon stroll. Let’s see what happens then.