The stories I tell myself aren’t helping. I am my own worst critic and I am hypercritical. I’m a perfectionist. I want and expect the best and only the best. I can remember my father wanting to know why a 98% came back on a test. What did I miss? He, too, was a perfectionist. Life is difficult for those who expect perfection because, you see, it doesn’t really exist except in Plato’s cave.

I went to my introductory free CrossFit class and was unable to do one single solitary thing. I couldn’t even finish the class. With tears in my eyes, I asked if this was even possible for me and Ryan said that CrossFit was all scalable and I could do it if I tried.

I tried. I cried. I cried more than I thought I would, but I kept trying. Eventually, I could do some of the warm-up. Took a while to get that far. But you have to start where you are, another dictum of CrossFit.

It is all scalable.

I know this. I know that I can always modify the move, drop the weight, change the rep scheme. It is ALL scalable. There are even a variety of scaling options for every damn thing. It is truly all scalable just so geriatric jocks like me can participate.

It is hard. It’s supposed to be hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it, regardless of what the “it” is. But life is just one damn thing after another and so it is hard. Working out is hard. Being so out of shape you get winded climbing half a flight of stairs is hard. Choose your hard. I choose to work out. And then I tell myself stupid stories.

My stories almost always have the word “should” in there somewhere. I’ve been at this for over three years, so I SHOULD be able to do this or that. I should be able to move this weight by now. I should be like Eli, a 23 year old male who has been a competitive swimmer and is awesome shape. I should have conquered my wonky heart rate issues long ago. I should RX stuff.

That’s the part that’s killing me. I should RX stuff. I have no idea why I think this. I know there were women at the CrossFit Games this year that were my age and able to do freakishly awesome things. One old lady did a thruster with my deadlift weight. What is wrong with me?

Well, I’m not a professional jock, for one thing. I have no idea what that awesome lady’s history was but I know for certain that she isn’t me. I have no idea what sacrifices she made in order to get to that point, how many hours she worked at lifting, how she spent her entire adult life. I only know that she is awesome and I cannot match her work. She was the top old lady in the games and so I’m not supposed to be able to match her. No one else is Rich Froning, either.

Each time I scale anything, I tell myself the story of failure. My friends not from the gym think I’m a bit crazy for doing this. They think my deadlift weight is a ridiculous amount for an old lady to lift. I look at it as only slightly more than another old lady’s thruster weight. Why do I do this to myself? I have no idea. I want more. I work hard. I should be better.

But better than what? I am better than when I started. I can squat ass to grass without folding over or anything. I don’t need a PVC pipe to be able to lunge down the mat. I don’t use the kid med ball for wall balls. I can manage pull-ups with a band and even chest bar with bands. Every single lift has weights on my weight. My heart rate is still high, but only because I’m doing so much more than I used to be able to even dream of. And I’m still not happy. I’m still looking at scaling as failure.

The story I tell myself is stupid. I’m not trying to be a professional athlete. I’m not hoping to get to the Games. I’m just being awesome three times a week. I go, I modify, I conquer, I work hard. I need to congratulate myself for this. Yes, there are people who do more, achieve more, work harder and longer, and are awesome. But I don’t know if they know how to save lives and conquer disease, take a computer apart and put it back together, or even if they can write a cogent sentence. I am capable of many things.

I don’t ever want to climb a rope. I’m pretty sure HSPUs are not ever going to happen for me since my fear of even getting up on the wall is extreme. But I can do much more than I could three years ago. And I have muscles instead of flab. And I’m at the box three times a week, working hard at my scaled WODs. I need to learn a different story. Scaling is the goal, not the fail point. Making this possible isn’t failure. Working hard is hard work.

Katrin Davidsdottir is safe, at least from me. It’s okay. There can only be one of her and she has that job. I just need to be me, the most awesome scaling geriatric jock in this room.