Friday, March 13, 2020

Do the Walk of Life

Self-improvement is important.

All the images I got when I Googled "self-improvement"
were hackneyed, so here's a picture of a monkey.
Case in point: This week I realized that I don't look good when I walk.

My IRL workplace has a lot of glass-fronted mirrors and conference rooms. When you walk past them, you can see a decent reflection of yourself if you happen to glance that way.

And of course I happen to glance that way fairly often. Because one of these days I'm going to magically turn into Jennifer Aniston, and how am I going to know it's happened if I don't check my reflection frequently? I can't spend all day in front of the mirror in the restroom.

I tried explaining that I was singing the first act of "Hamilton"
to make sure my hands were clean. It didn't go over well.
Or I'm just vain and insecure about my looks. FINE.

Anyway, a little while ago I began to notice that as I walked down the corridor, I looked...odd. And I don't mean my face; it may very well look odd, but only as odd as it's ever looked. No, I mean the way I was carrying myself. I've always been a fast walker, so it wouldn't be surprising to see that I leaned forward a bit as I went, or led with my shoulders, or whatever. But what I saw wasn't just a lean. For lack of a better word, I looked bent.

This would have been cool.
But is this not what I saw.
My top half was sort of pitched forward in an awkward way that didn't match what my legs were doing. I looked like someone who had gained weight and no longer knew how to carry themselves, like someone who thought they were moving attractively and appropriately but had no idea how they actually appeared to others. Like...

I kid you not, I looked like Trump's weird fatty-wearing-lifts posture in motion. I held myself like a gorilla with an equilibrium issue. I walked as if I were trying to imitate all the Cosby Kids at once.

Not a good look.
And this is what 40 people saw every day as I moved among them? This was disturbing.

(By the way, I totally am someone who has gained weight and no longer knows how to carry herself, and who thought she looked appropriate but had no idea how she actually appeared. That's the really disturbing part.)

So in the spirit of self-improvement, I've set about training myself to walk properly. Maybe if I had spent more time in my youth walking around with books on my head like all the girls' magazines told me to, this wouldn't be necessary. But here I am, giving myself posture lessons.

It's very strange to have to think about walking while I'm walking. To have to literally tell myself, "No, not like that! Do it like this!" every time I get up from my desk or out of my car. But until moving around gracefully without looking like a deranged orange lunatic becomes second nature, that's exactly what I'm doing.

Basically, I'm forcing myself to keep my shoulders centered over my hips as I walk and to let my legs lead the way. That inevitably slows down my natural gait, so I also have to fight the urge to walk faster. And, since I've noticed that I tend to tense up in my upper half when I walk, I have to remind myself to stay relaxed (not mentally relaxed - let's not move mountains here - just not clench my torso muscles). It's a lot to process. It feels absurdly like, after having spent my whole life pedaling a bike with my hands, I've been told I've been doing it wrong, so I'm having to teach myself to use my feet.

I really should have spent less time reading
books and more time putting them
on my head.
This has been surprisingly difficult, you guys. Whenever I practice my "new" walk, I'm convinced I look like an R. Crumb comic.

Look it up, children.
I feel as if I'm seriously over-correcting my posture and must look ridiculous. But when I pass one of those glass-fronted offices, I'm amazed at what I see. I look...normal. I see someone standing straight and moving naturally. I look simultaneously more relaxed and more confident. God help me, I look slimmer. I do understand that magically turning into Jennifer Aniston has not occurred just because I've changed the way I walk, but there really is a difference, and it's been startling to me.

Has anyone else noticed? I doubt it. I'm sure I'm far more concerned with my appearance than anyone I work with. Besides, they're engineers. The only thing they notice on a regular basis is when a sewer line has been designed three degrees off grade. Or when someone has brought breakfast tacos. That brings all the boys to the yard, way more than the posture of their middle-aged office manager.

But I'm quite pleased with the change. I still have a way to go before this becomes second nature and I don't have to silently narrate every trip to the copy room or check my reflection as I go. But I'll get there.

I'll probably keep the checking my reflection part, though. You know, just to be on the safe side.


  1. Interesting! Probably your new gait is better for your health, too!

  2. It's a known fact that if you have correct posture you automatically look thinner. Now I'm wondering about my walk - and we don't have any reflective surfaces at work for me to check. :-\

  3. " I totally am someone who has gained weight and no longer knows how to carry herself, and who thought she looked appropriate but had no idea how she actually appeared."


    Did you just assume your own gender?

  4. There are a lot of things besides books you could balance on your head so don't knock reading books instead of wearing them.


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