A Letter to My Boxing Friends

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

A letter to you, my PGB friends,

I’ve never done very well in groups. I was in a sorority in college, and it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I’ve never felt more out of place, more alienated, more unworthy of friendship. And even though I’ve successfully been a part of multiple friend groups since then, that experience has always stuck with me. It’s become a deep and inextricable part of the story that I tell myself about myself, like it’s a fact — I have brown hair, I have a loud voice, and I don’t do very well in groups.

This year, though, had been the year that I’ve started rewriting that part of my story — and so much of it is thanks to you, the women in this room and the others who have been here throughout the year, even briefly and in passing. Every single person and every single interaction in this gym and on GroupMe and during our social events has taught me not only about all of you but also about myself. 

We are all so different, with so much going on behind the scenes of our lives. We are different ages, races, religions, body types, and professions, all in different stages of our lives. I suspect that we represent a wide variety of political views and other values that we don’t always express in class. So many of our life stories are so very unalike — and yet, somehow, our time together at PGB gives us the opportunity to see that there are so many other ways in which we are incredibly similar, too. All incredibly human. 

In becoming a part of PGB this year, I’ve come to better understand my own tendency to judge people upon first meeting them. I’ve started to examine what I first think about other people and why — and, more importantly, to recognize how wrong I often am about who people are and how much I will like them, and vice versa. It seems inconceivable now that there was ever a time when I was skeptical of this class, and of all of you as individuals. 

In the beginning — and in some cases, for longer — I suspected that some of you weren’t “my people,” but I see now that I was actually just worried that you wouldn’t like me. Tier after tier, I’ve been able to recognize, analyze, and start to dismantle my own tendency to transpose my own self-consciousness onto others. I put up walls to keep people out — but only because I don’t want to be hurt if it turns out that they were never interested in coming in to begin with.

And yet, tier after tier, you’ve shown me that we don’t have to be the same to be alike — or to be likable. So many of our conversations reveal the depth and complexity of the issues we all deal with — the nerves and anxiety and self-consciousness. And it’s those conversations that continue to teach me an important lesson — that to be a part of a group, you have to be willing to let the group know you. 

At 38 years old, I am only now grasping that it really is OK to be exactly who I am, whatever that turns out to mean for other people. I don’t need other people to like me; I just need me to like me, and that self-love is often compelling enough for others to do the same. As the old saying goes, “If you build it, they will come.” 

Everyone in this room has played a small part in helping me to rebuild myself — my self-esteem, my trust, and my strength, both physical and emotional. Tier by tier and class by class, you’re helping me to rewrite my own story, starting with my own view of myself. Thank you for your time, your patience, your sense of humor, your lack of judgment, and all your unending wisdom. 

You have made me a group person. 

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