Sitting Naked with Strangers

Sitting naked with strangers isn’t all that difficult. Getting naked is decidedly more uncomfortable.

Most German saunas have a no clothing policy. You walk around in your towel, then enter the sauna, nicely fold your towel up and sit on it. Ok, that is all well in good. Sitting in a room with 10-50 older, naked Germans is one thing. All the wrinkled skin and lumps start to blend together. I start to forget where the good lumps and bad lumps are supposed to go. It’s just a lot of lumps. And sun spots. There aren’t many folks in their 20’s. Mostly it’s a 50 and older crowd. The younger crowd is more insecure, so they rarely show up. Even though their lumps are still in all the right places.

50 years olds? They don’t give a shit anymore. The lumps are all wrong now, but who cares? Men who were once barrel chested and rugged looking in their youth, now have a nice B cup. Women who use to have a nice C cup for a chest, now have boobies that sit in their laps. The hair has migrated from the right places to all the wrong places as well.  Former full heads of hair have become noses and ears bursting at the seams.  Oh well. They aren’t about to start using Rogaine in some places and shaving all the other places. American advertising wants to sell nudity as sex appeal. Ha! Not so in the German sauna. Everyone is just lumpy. Some peoples lumps a bit better than others. But the Germans don’t care about their ill-placed lumps. Their muscles are sore and bones ache in the winter. So they head to the sauna.

But back to getting naked. That’s weird.

Most sauna’s have separate changing rooms for men and women. It doesn’t really make sense. Everyone ends up naked anyways. But then I went to a sauna with just one changing room. One small changing room. Which was in fact very weird.

I didn’t realize this was the case when I showed up. I was standing in line to pay behind a couple. After I paid, the clerk directed me to follow them to the changing room. “Them?” I ask.

My German is crap. Actually I can say that phrase rather well. The Germans love it. Translated, this is my favorite phrase to introduce myself to Germans in their 20’s, “Sorry, my German is total shit.” And they laugh. Because it’s true. But they knew what I meant! So I count that as a win.

Anyways, I followed “them” into one small changing room. Like it ain’t no thing, they both took off their clothes.

I stood there like an idiot.

Um. “Take a deep breath. You can do this.” I was giving myself a rather ineffective pep talk. “They obviously don’t care.” In a state of slight panic I started yelling in my head.  “You are making this weirder than it needs to be! Just take off your damn clothes!”

It was a total fail. I fiddled with my hair for an exorbitant amount of time. Took forever removing my shoes. I’m sure they walked out thinking, “stupid American”.  It was kind of stupid.

There are two strong forces that keep us within the normal. The normal 50 hour work week. The normal credit card debt. The normal mortgage payment, car payment, ect. The normal retire at 67 and live off a meager social security. The normal 10 days of vacation. The normal work to live and live to work routine.

  1. Society and culture says it’s the way everyone does it, and you need to also! They will slap your hand with a ruler if you try to step outside of “normal”. In will pour the critical. The haters. Internet trolls or in-laws. Opinionated coworkers. But that is a post for another day.
  2. Our fears, ideas of “right” or level of comfort also hold us back. I didn’t know why it was so much harder to get naked than be naked. No one else had a problem with it. Just me. In my own head. I’m not talking about moral choices here. But that deep sense of “this is the way it’s supposed to be done, even if it goes against my dreams, goals and plans.” We don’t want to think outside of the box. We hesitate to try something different. To even try it. Maybe it’s better, maybe it’s worst. But we won’t know unless we try.

For 1 ½ years in bible college I lived in a travel trailer. Not to be confused with a single wide trailer. Which is like an actual house. This was a camper. Not a new shiny one either. And you know what? It was awesome. I loved it! It was cheap, easy to clean, comfortable. I had enough space for everything I needed, and none of the crap I didn’t need. After Mr. Mt and I married (and $50k in debt!) we moved back into a travel trailer to save $200 a month. I pushed past the fear that I would look unsuccessful and poor (although that was true!). And said, “This is what will get us debt free faster. I actually really love it. So why not?”

I know so many people who won’t invest in the stock market. Because it scares them. Because they don’t trust it. Because it’s seems risky. That might be ok, if they had another option for saving they were actively working. But they aren’t. Despite so many people building wealth with stocks, they know the guy who sold it all at the bottom. The guy who lost half his savings because he panicked when the markets crashed.

So they are fiddling with their hair. Taking too long pulling off their shoes.

I get it. Getting naked felt too vulnerable. Too personal. Too intimate. And I stalled.

But perception isn’t always reality. Know your dreams. Know your goals. Envision your ideal life. Then work towards it. Shut down the haters. And face your own fears. It might not be as bad as you think, if you just try it.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

6 thoughts on “Sitting Naked with Strangers

  1. A huge shout out to all my German readers! I think I actually have more readers from Germany than Montana. =) After living there for 4 years, it’s still one of my favorite places. I would love more comments from my German peeps! For the first time in 4 years I went to an Aldi yesterday. =) (We are still on our 6 week road trip). I bought more than a few bottles of German Riesling . =) I might attempt to turn one of those bottles into gelato. =)

  2. I have a friend who just became a life insurance agent. He told me that he thought whole life was a good option for a lot of people like his dad who lost tons of money in 2008 in the stock market and sold everything. It’s a shame that his father allowed this one event to activate his fears and cause him to make a permanent financial mistake. I feel like if we were more open to each other about our financial worries that it would lead to much better decision making. BTW, that picture appeared on my feed at Bloglovin where I follow you and I had to stop and figure out how I felt about the cover photo. Pretty shocking haha

    • Ha, the photo was about the closest I could find to a true German sauna experience. =) Maybe I will try to find one with a few ladies. Still old and wrinkly of course!

      I totally agree about sharing our fears, and failures! It can be so weird to talk to people in real life about money, investing and personal finance. Yeah for blogs! People can be so driven by the fear that is created by one experience. But it that internal dialog can steer them wrong for a long time if left unchecked.

  3. New reader / follower hear. Spent 4 years in (West) Germany (yep – that old). Great blog! My brother lives a minimalist lifestyle on 40 acres near roundup. I live in NC and am retiring in 2017 at 60. Will comfortably spend 4-5% of our portfolio (supplemented by two modest pensions and a decent health coverage) until adding 2 social security accounts at 62. While not retiring very early, we did it on a single income so mama could stay home, raise kids and manage the household. She side hustled with babysitting and her $100K cash is our emergency fund.

    I do wish we had come across the FIRE community earlier. While we were aggressive savers most years, we were also under the BS premise that you need an obscenely large percentage of current income to retire. Once we realized what a scam that con-game is (perpetrated by basically the entire investment industry that is highly motivated to keep people working and investing), we realized we were well set to RE next year.

    Also, visited Germany last year on business, but had time tromp around Koln (Cologne) over the weekend. It’s my favorite place after Bavaria.

    So, thanks for being one more voice in the wilderness!

    Choose, nay? 🙂

    • That is awesome! Congrats on pulling the plug. 60 might not seem young in the FIRE crowd, but in the “real” world I bet a few people are scratching their heads on how you pulled that off because they have another 10 years to go, and might still be broke! Oh, I love Koln too! And the Bavarian’s always know how to have a good time. Thanks for being a new reader! =)

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