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.
- 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.
- 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.