There are many natural moments that bring us to adulthood. One is the moment we realize that we will deal with some limitation or other for the rest of our lives.
Maybe we have speech impediments. Maybe we have an orientation toward social shyness or submissiveness, or talkativity or neuroticism. Maybe we have poor physical attributes or ailments. Whatever the problems are, at some point we lose the optimism that they can be fixed, and we accept that they can only be treated and worked around (or worked with).
This may be easier for some people, but for a young person and an optimist raised on ideas of “the blank slate” and my “infinite potential”, it is a bit harder to do. I think this is likely true of many people of my generation. Of course it is important to work hard, and of course a great deal of things about us can change. Human beings are very adaptable. But we are also finite and genetic.
My genetics, among other things, predispose me to sweat profusely within minutes of physical exertion or long exposure to heat. This in turn contributes to severe chafing on my legs on hot days working outside and walking around in sweat-soaked clothes. This summer has been the “moment of realization” for me that I will just have to accept that I am going to be sweating a lot for the rest of my life (probably daily), and that this brings certain consequences.
I will either always be miserably wet and chafed raw, or I will have to change some habits. I’ve already started to bring an extra shirt to work – and have joked that I should bring a clothesline (the joke is close to the truth). I should probably bring a whole set of dry clothes. I use a towel to dry off sometimes, or just go shirtless. I take my shoes off sometimes at lunch to let my wet feet breathe. I basically need to follow the protocol of a soldier slogging through a jungle somewhere, lest I get trenchfoot.
I hate that I have to do all of this, and if the idealistic part of me was more in play, it might have hoped that there was some permanent remedy or program to turn a sweating person into a dry person. But I’ve embraced the truth of this limitation, and I’m better off for it. Each limitation comes with a sting of disappointment and curtailed “potential,” but accepting and understanding each one has its own benefits.