Spring break is upon us and students are migrating south to a golden coast of sunshine and ocean. Sounds great! In reality, the beach you are flocking to, while beautiful and relaxing, is a warzone within the Self. A sandy battleground of emotional inner turmoil.
This declaration does not come easily, but with serious contemplation. Nonetheless, I've come to the unanimous decision with myself that your mind goes through a series of five stages when lounging on the beach: confidence, boredom, disappointment, determination and reality.
On some, if not most, occasions, people will take their first few steps onto the beach feeling fairly confident. They're wearing their fresh-out-of-the-Nordstrom-bag swimsuit, the sun is shining, Tory Burch shades are on. It's going to be a good day of swimming and serenity.
Choosing your beach turf carefully, to be sure you're in direct contact with the sun, you take the lounging position, ready to soak in rays and begin that just-right, sun-kissed tan.
The beach bod diet you started this morning is really kicking in and you think you can already detect an ab muscle. All is well!
The sun is too hot, the sand is in your eyes, and the pseudo-intellectual book you've been excited to read turns out to not be pseudo at all.
Though you thought you'd been lying out for a few hours, it turns out it's been just a mere 50 minutes. That pasty skin hasn't darkened at all.
As your nagging boredom begins to turn into annoyance, you look at the others around you. Immediately you take note that you seem to have chosen a beach only for models, because surely these beautiful creatures aren't regular folk like you.
You regret that Big Mac you devoured just before boarding the plane. Sitting up, the rolls of fat have accumulated and seem to be taking claim of your entire stomach. Without a doubt, everyone on the beach is staring at you and judging you harshly.
The game of volleyball just a few beach umbrellas down is full of straight-out-of-the-catalog shirtless men and women.
You lie back down, flattening out the rolls of your stomach and putting your hands close to your thighs to hide any evidence of last night's chocolate cake.
Screw those people! "I can be hot if I wanted to be. Maybe I just enjoy pizza and cake and soda and ice cream. I'm just too busy to spend my entire life trudging the treadmill."
A cloud in the sky moves a little to the side. More rays of sun! You're filled with that extra drive to lie there patiently, get that tan, and show those people you can be just as hot as they are. You decide you're going to leave that beach looking so good, even those volleyball players will be jealous.
You lie there, and decide that from now on it's only going to be salads and vegetables. When vacation ends, you will wake up an hour earlier every morning to run. The LA Fitness membership will get renewed and you will become one of those yoga fanatics.
A beach attendant from your hotel walks by carrying a Diet Coke and a plate of french fries and delivers them to the nice couple sitting a few feet from you. The whiff of greasy happiness fills your nostrils, overtaking every fiber.
The Beautiful People have left to go do beautiful people things as the sun begins to wane, just above the waves.
By now, your hair is fully caked in sand and your towel is wrinkled and damp from your profuse sweating. The thought of salad for dinner makes you want to cry, and the image of doing yoga is even more depressing.
You decide to stand up, trying not to breathe through your nose for fear you may actually, all-joking-aside, rip those fries out of that seemingly very pleasant couples' hands.
Walking back into the hotel just a tad bit darker, your friends cry out with jealousy at your newly acquired tanness. Beaming with pride, you insist you hadn't even tried to get tan! You're just really blessed with good genes.
You decide to reward yourself with double-cheese pizza, with pepperoni and olives.