Ever see greatness in someone, almost so much that it doesn’t seem fair? Sometimes others can see it in you before you see it yourself. I watch the way Cassidy Watton approaches her work, and I know she can assist us in becoming stronger, more physically confident, less anxious, fitter and bolder. She’s finding her way at her pace. I know she’ll get there, but I’m a bit impatient. Hurry up, Cass. The world is waiting.
“Two more baskets, Cass!”
I can hear my mom shouting from the bleachers. I steal the ball and score at will. At six years old, I dominated on the basketball court.
My early childhood was turbulent. I grew up in an avid church-going family and distinctly remember the day in Sunday school when I learned the story of Job. God was so confident in Job’s faithfulness that he and the Devil made an agreement. The Devil was allowed to put Job through whatever trials he wanted for years on end in order to prove this. He killed his wife, children, cattle, gave him horrible illnesses, etc.
I was sure as a kid that my mom was being put through the same test. She raised four kids on her own, escaped my abusive alcoholic father, moved to a new state, fought tooth and nail to get us back when our father kidnapped us, finally earned enough money to buy a house which ended up burning down…the list goes on.
My mom taught me incredible strength, selflessness, work ethic and integrity. However, she never sat me down to explain these concepts; there was no time for that. As the youngest of four, no one explained why everyone was fighting or crying or laughing or jumping up to do the dishes; I had to figure it out. It was like a game of double dutch. I’d watch the ropes intently for a few beats then hop in with everyone else lest I get left behind. Despite the Biblically reminiscent trials and less than ideal parenting conditions, my mom still managed to pump out four pretty damn cool kids and make sure we had the opportunity and support needed do anything or go anywhere by the time we were 18. We all adopted her adventurous spirit and moved really far away. Sorry, Mom.
My siblings mostly topped out at t-ball. I was good at nearly every athletic pursuit I tried, whether kick ball, arm wrestling or riding a unicycle. I felt confident in myself and my abilities. Like most girls, as I got older, the confidence began to fade. On the drive home after a high school basketball game, when I didn’t score in the double digits, my mom would say:
“What happened? Remember when you were little and I would just tell you to score ten more baskets and you would just do it?”
“IT’S NOT LIKE THAT ANYMORE MOM,” I would snap back in the sassiest teenage tone available.
“ITS JUST NOT”
Praise was not handed out much in my busy household. Don’t get me wrong, my mother has always been my biggest fan and very proud of me but we were also taught humility…to a fault. Occasionally it can be useful to hear that I’m a badass and that I need to just run bitches over. Or more likely, in Blair language, “Cassidy you already have the talent and discipline to be the best, you just need to believe in yourself.”
I went from captaining four sports and winning Athlete of the Year my senior year of high school to a junior in college participating in none. I felt as though no matter how good I was, there would always be someone better. This thought held me back for years. Then I discovered Crossfit.
I’m not here to discuss the controversies around Crossfit. For me, it was my introduction to the world of physical fitness and lifting weights. I dove headlong into identifying as an athlete. The addiction to bettering my physical prowess was strong – I wanted to be bigger, faster, fitter and more capable than those around me. I was slowly regaining my confidence, but it took years (and $200,000 on a Bachelor’s in Spanish) to decide I could do this professionally.
I am a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. This is really just a fundraiser to support my own over-exercise habits and competitive hobby in Crossfit and Spartan Racing. It is only in the last couple of years I have finally dispelled that first defeated thought I had in high school. I cannot even tell you how groundbreaking it was for me to realize that I am actually an exceptional athlete, I have an extremely valuable skill set and knowledge of fitness, and no one can deliver these things to people quite like I can. I feel like on a day to day basis I can do pretty much anything physical that I want. Carry this thing, climb that thing, go to this place as fast as you can on foot, kill that threatening man in the dark alley…I feel pretty damn good.
Finding the thing that you’re good at and being able to share it with the world is an amazing feeling. Defeating personal demons is incredibly liberating. Unfortunately, it can also be somewhat limiting. I’ve been forced to confront this question because of a nagging back injury and some recent musings with one Gabe Kapler.
Gabe and I work out at the same gym. He is always asking me really obnoxious questions I don’t want to answer. “Why do you lift?” and “Do you sometimes workout as an escape?”
“How dare you, Gabe, I’m tryna’ lift over here.”
I lift because I love it, I am good at it and it is something I can share with other people, whether it is working out with a friend, training a client or teaching someone how to do a squat in the grocery store. That miserable second workout of the day, the one I do by myself in the scorching sun even when I’m not feeling it…I do that for me.
However, my identity can’t solely be tied into my physical fitness. I have begun to think about why I do this. What if an injury keeps me from ever being an elite athlete, how will I cope with that? Where will I place my self-worth and what will I have to offer the world? Heavy.
Let’s not be dramatic, unless I have some horrible accident that completely disables me, I will always be an (overly) active person, including in my work. However, I think it is important for me right now to put confidence and investment in Cassidy as a whole, not just fitness Cassidy. I am an athlete, but I also speak Spanish. I like nutrition. I’m passionate about the outdoors. I like to teach. I like to write. I enjoy helping people achieve their goals. I love to travel. I’m addicted to trashy electronic music and I enjoy a good cup of coffee. Sharpening the skills that may be secondary to fitness right now and simply pondering life outside the gym is becoming increasingly important to me. I’m not sure what pursuing these things will look like day to day, but today, it looks like writing a blog post.