I remember back when I was pregnant and someone asked me “Oh, are you going to prenatal classes? Lamaze? Anything?” and I snorted and said “Don’t be ridiculous. Women have been pushing out babies for thousands of years, even before Lamaze was invented. I’m just going to go in, and push the baby out. End of story. I mean, how hard can it be?”….
How hard indeed.
Fast forward to my much wiser, more grownup self, and see me sitting across the desk from the kind eyed Deputy Fire Chief at our local volunteer fire department. A week before, I took the physical assessment as a prerequisite to volunteer as a new recruit. I walked in there, put on all the turnout gear, strapped on a 40lb tank and a helmet and told myself “Of course I can do this… How hard can it be?”
20 pushups…check. 20 situps, check. Drag the bundle of hose 40 feet with a rope. Grab the charged hose and sprint. Easy peasy.
Squat, pick up the 180 lb dummy, hold it to your chest and walk backward 40 feet. Wait… try that again? Ok, one more time. Alrighty… take a 30 second breather and try one. more. time.
And my arms were shaking- no-how could I reach far enough around in all my gear to get a solid grip, and the dummy legs were taped together making it harder to sit it up. I was sweating and cursing at myself and the guy running the PT was shouting encouragement and in one last desperate push I managed to get the damn thing up far enough to start dragging….about 5 feet.
On to the next station, I completed the extrication tool hold, and finally, dragged my ass up a 2 story ladder, touched the top of the building and climbed back down (all without peeing my pants or throwing up on the nice man holding the ladder).
I knew when I was called in tonight I would be facing rejection. I packed my uniform up (they had already issued one), took myself for a coffee before I had to be there and decided that I would be gracious and understanding.
I knew that they had minimum requirements for a reason, and in my own heart, I was sure I did really damn good for a girl (especially since there are no exceptions in the PT requirements for women). I also knew that I had made it as far as I did because the recruiting committee really liked me and wanted me to have a shot.
So I wouldn’t make a scene, I wouldn’t cry, and I wouldn’t make them feel bad about turning me down. How hard can it be to face rejection with grace?
Really hard. But I did it.
(And I’ll be back there in the fall to do it all over again! Now that I know exactly how hard 😉 )