You know it’s not everyday that you’re invited to go stand in a cage with 11 live alligators. And it’s not everyday that you actually decide to say, “screw it, let me go stand in that cage with a bunch of alligators.” But that day did happen for me. And it’s still bit surreal. But what might be even more surreal is that fact that I was more nervous about live-insta-videoing than I was about the dozen alligators. Crazy right? That’s been on my mind often lately.
I was fine in the pen– totally okay. I mean, I was cautious (obviously) but my heart wasn’t racing and I definitely wasn’t sweating anymore from the alligators than I had been from the mass amount of humidity and heat in the air. But as I was standing in that pen, I thought, “man this is a really cool moment. I should go live on Instagram (for my first time)” And so I did— and the moment the live video started loading, my heart started racing like crazy. I felt a sincere panic. I stood there wondering, maybe this isn’t the best idea. (The video being the bad idea not that I was standing there with alligators). Crazy right? Is it crazy? Gosh, I keep thinking and re-thinking about it and I just can’t tell.
The reality is that I’ve never been a big “look at me” attention kind of person. I’m totally okay being an open book and over-sharing my thoughts– but the moment I feel more than one set of eyes on me, I start to panic. It’s not even a stage fright sort of feeling. It’s worse than that. I get nervous even being in a conversation with multiple people. I fear not knowing where to look. I panic. Theres this unwavering burning feeling when I have multiple sets of eyes focused on every word that leaves my mouth.
I’ve talked a bit about over coming my fears this year. My life is a process. I truly feel that someone who is not trying to advance (in one way or another) every day is wasting their life. Every single day I want to try to better myself. Emotionally, physically, however. Physically it’s been tough. Really tough. And if I’m being completely honest, the illness thing didn’t just affect me physically, but it surely put a painful dent in my emotional self as well. It dug a giant hole in any sort of positive self-esteem I once had. It stung hard not feeling good enough or capable enough or healthy enough after getting sick.
I still struggle with it. I don’t feel frail or too skinny anymore. Honestly, I recently gave up on the whole gaining weight thing and found a comfort (read: acceptance) in my “underweight stature.” Thankfully, I don’t think I look too skinny anymore. Skinny, sure, but I don’t think anyone looks at me and thinks I’m unwell. This helps. I know for most it’s hard to empathize with feeling “too skinny”– but it’s real. I was never a girl scared of having curves. There’s been moments where I’m underweight, and overweight, and “just right” for my height.
But me dropping those 15-ish pounds in two weeks– it hit me hard. Physically it drained me. Emotionally I was scared that I had truly lost any security cushion. That I couldn’t risk anything– I didn’t want to fall deeper and become more sick than I already was. But I do still struggle to feel good enough after getting sick. And even harder, being the complete perfectionist I am, I struggle because I want to feel (and be) great, not just enough. I’m not super hard on myself anymore. I’ve come to accept that my life is different now, my capabilities are different. I accept that I should be more careful with my time, energy, food intake, stress, and especially my amount of sleep. I don’t beat myself up every day anymore. I by no means feel great about my situation, but it doesn’t emotionally wear at me like it first did.
This is me now. At thirty something years old I struggle with a new lacking self-esteem that I work on. I wonder how long I will live. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to push my body past everyday activities. Hell, I worry about what will happen if I eat corn. It sounds almost silly typing it all out. But these are the real struggles I deal with.
And so I can’t push my self like I once did. I can’t work 16 hour days raising a kid (then toddler), running a blog by myself, and creating a cookbook. I can’t stay out until 3 am, or 1 am, or really, it’s a miracle if I make it to midnight without feeling ill the next day. I can’t over push myself anymore. I can’t be a perfectionist anymore. I just can’t.
But I can take smaller risks. And I will take smaller risks that maybe I once wouldn’t have. I don’t know. Would I have stood in a pen with 11 alligators before getting sick? To be honest I’m not sure. Maybe. But maybe not. But I certainly wouldn’t have swam in cave, or floated in a cenote by myself, or kayaked in the ocean. I was too scared to do those things once. But now, after getting so ill, I will.
I don’t feel physically stronger after c. diff– not even close. But emotionally, I do now have this “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” mentality. Well, let me correct myself. It’s a, “what doesn’t kill you, will teach you” mentality. I’m learning. I’m growing. And I’m taking more risks. Because the truth is I don’t know how long I will live. (Morbid yeah). I don’t know how many years of my life were stolen from c. diff. But I do know that life is short— and when someone offers me the opportunity to stand in a pen full of live alligators, I’m going to take it.
And realistically, me standing in the pen is nothing compared to the trainers who swim with them 😉
And there was a moment when the gator made its way back from land to the water… and accidentally detoured from me… was I scared? Not really. My only really thought and concern was, “man why wasn’t my camera still rolling.” Haha. It’s a strange juxtaposition– to be so scared of talking live into a phone of friends and readers– but feel so okay standing there in what could be an actual dangerous situation too. I don’t know. I guess the reality is, I do still have some things to work on. I want that bit of my self-esteem back. I don’t want my heart to race because a camera turns on me, but then not when a live alligator does, haha.
I learned a lot of things this day. I learned that alligators really don’t give two craps about you being there. And I learned that the things in life that scare me most of all are all found internally. I’ve got to work on those parts.
We had a great day at this alligator and wildlife sanctuary. I know a lot of people come to Florida to do the alligator experience, but personally, I would just try to see them in the wild instead of some road side stop. But if you really want to get up close and personal, then I want to mention this place, because honestly, I never intended to do a whole post about this place, but after visiting I thought I should, It was good to see a place that cared so much for their rescued animals. If you’re ever in South Florida (Homestead to be exact), I recommend you check them out. Everglades Outpost is unlike many other alligator farms, all the alligators (and animals in general) are rescued– not bred or bought or captured. Also, maybe I should mention that they don’t usually invite people stand in the pen, but they allowed me to because I was taking photos for a Florida company I was working it. Regardless, we had a great time.
Marlowe had a blast. Her favorite animals are cats– lions, tigers, jaguars, panthers, all of feline types. So it was pretty amazing to show up and learn that she could not only visit the rescued tigers up close and personal, but also feed them too. Also, if you’re wondering where in the world a tiger could be rescued from in south florida– well, let me tell you. Apparently an *adult entertainer* had bought one as a baby for her act and then realized it was sort of impossible to actually keep and care for a full size tiger (no duh, lady).
My favorite was chewy the camel…. because obviously.
In most experiences I’ve had with tortoises, they’ve hissed at me and did not want to be my friends. These were fine with me, haha.
I don’t know, guys…. I say it over and over these days, but life is short. I’m hoping to regain my self-esteem completely and totally and one day feel comfortable putting my face in front of a camera (but honestly, there are not much pictures of me from childhood and teenage years— I’ve always hated being in front of the camera– but always carried a camera with me). I’m working on a lifelong change 😉 Until then, you can find me in a pen with rescued alligators… probably asking if they want to be my friend.
I hope you guys all had a great weekend! We went out canoeing and in search of more gators. None was found. But we had a decent time anyway 😉 Cheers friends. Whatever insecurities you may have, lets work on them together, ya? Cool.
ps. theres no pictures to actually prove I Was standing in the pen– but thats because I was holding the camera and Alex doesn’t EVER think to take photos of anything 😉