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Gum Chewing. Being An A-Hole In Yoga Class. And Change.

I have a very unhealthy relationship with gum. And gum chewing. And people who chew gum. Loudly. So much so that all my friends know to not chew gum around me, unless they want the evil Sally Stare. It’s bad. I mean, really bad. The sound of it makes my skin crawl. Makes my stomach turn. Makes me want to yell and scream and cry all at the same time.

And as you can imagine, this has caused problems my whole life. In movie theaters, lines at Disneyland, fellow students in my classes at school, potential partners, friends. Just chomping away while my upset just grows and grows.

So…I’m somewhat of an enlightened being. And I know that this issue is fully mine. That these evil gum chewers are neither evil, nor trying to make my life miserable on purpose. They’re probably not even aware of what it sounds like (although this thought is resisted…I mean how could you NOT know????). But yet, I react viscerally and strongly each and every time. This is one habit I’ve never been able to kick. Yet.

So yesterday, I decided to take a yoga class at a super fancy and cute yoga studio. I plopped my $20 down, got a mat, and laid in dead man’s pose, relaxing and breathing steadily and calming in preparation for my hour and a half class. And then it happened. From across the room, I heard it. Gum chewing. And I tensed up, sat up straight, shot my eyes open to find the culprit. And much to my disappointment, it was the teacher. THE TEACHER! (for crying out loud). The yoga teacher, chewing her gum so loudly that I could hear it clear from across the room.

Oh no! I think. What am I supposed to do now? I already paid the money. I already drove clear across town. I already blocked out my time and prepared myself for an hour and a half of being uncomfortable. I was P R E P A R E D. For everything. Except this.

And I rolled around the options in my head, and only three came to mind. I could get up right now and leave. I could not do anything and try to get through it, I mean it was yoga class…perhaps this is part of my practice. Or I could say something. Option one was annoying…I was here. I paid to be here. And I wanted to be here. And I didn’t pay $20 to here my yoga teacher chew gum. Option two felt impossible. There would be no way I would pay $20 to be upset for an hour and a half. So…option three it was.

And it scared me. Because I knew it was crazy. She has the right to chew gum. I’m embarrassed by this thing I have. I never know how to bring it up. I know I sound like a crazy person when I’m all like “Hi…I have this weird thing about gum,” and imagine people are all like “so what…get over it.” UGH!!!! Lessons…everywhere.

So I took a deep, open-mouthed breath, I got up, approached Amy and said “so…I’m really embarrassed by this, but I get really distracted by gum chewing, and…”

And before I could finish the sentence she said “oh no worries! I wasn’t going to be chomping away during class, my mouth was just dry right now. I’m going to spit it out before then.” I smiled apologetically, she tossed out her gum, and we began class. Just like that.

And in that moment, I was really proud of myself. For asking for what I needed, even though I was embarrassed (and prepared for her to think I was total a-hole). For standing up for myself and what I felt was right (yoga and gum don’t go together…I wanna be all tranquil and shit). For not giving up and going home just because I was uncomfortable. For approaching it with love. And it reminded me of something else in my life. A big situation that is causing a lot of pain. A lot of discomfort. A lot of needing to stand up for myself and what I think is right.

It’s not always easy to do. Contrarily, it sometimes feels impossible. I’ve given myself anxiety and stomach aches thinking about it. But I did it. I stood up for myself. And I got what I wanted. And I feel great. I didn’t let myself get bullied. I didn’t do what I usually do and try to make something work that simply doesn’t work for me. I stood with my feet firmly on the ground, and this felt good. And different than what I’ve ever done in the past. Things may not end up how I want, but at least I stood up for myself. All I can do is say what I need to say and let the chips fall where they may.

Change is about changing patterns. We can’t keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. If we want different, we have to DO different. We have to BE different. And in yoga class, and in my life right now, I’m learning that more and more.

That was the best yoga class I’d ever been to. I was stronger, stretchy-er, and more relaxed than I’d ever been. And this is one small step in the direction of change.

Next up…get rid of my freaking gum problem already! (anyone have suggestions??)

What needs to be different in your life right now? Where might you need to stand up for yourself? Where can you “do different” or “be different” so that you can have what you want for your life? Leave a comment on the blog and share share share!

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20 Responses to Gum Chewing. Being An A-Hole In Yoga Class. And Change.

  1. Vanety Fabrick says:

    haha! this made my day. . . not only did this gum-chewing ‘issue’ stand in hilarity all on its own, but! i also have the same friggin problem! i never heard anyone talk about this. it is something i live with. it makes me feel physically and emotionally ill when someone is gnawing on their gum like an idiot! but i know that’s not cool of me. but i can’t help it. my stomach curdles when i hear it. a snap and wet chewing. . . oh my god. and you know what? my MOM is a friggin gum chewer!!! and i’m 41 years old and have been creeped out by it since i was little hahaha i think it sounds disgusting (and have my own theories about that, i dont wish to get into). . . but i can’t tell my mom that it sickens me, cause, well, she’s my mom. and she’s so sweet and wonderful! . . . even just yesterday we went for a drive together and she’s like ‘oh honey, can we stop at a convenience store? i have to get some gum” . . . haha oooohh myyy. . . of course i put up with it as always, as i do with others as well. but i have to learn to get over it! (i also find some people are creepy eaters. they chew their food too loud and mushy and smack it around their mouth. AAAAAAAAAHHH!!!)

    also, with regards to not saying what you feel, and just letting different things happen even if it makes one uncomfortable. . . i do that. always have. i’m very tolerant for the most part and don’t want to cause friction with anyone, or for anyone to think i’m a ‘bitch’ (even if i just say it politely, i still feel so bad) . . . i tend to let things go too long, or too far. it’s something i’m aware of and working on. so this post was exactly what i needed—a laugh, a lesson and a reminder. . .

    • Sallyhope says:

      OH GIRL! I laughed my buns off reading your comment. Thank you so much for writing in and it looks like, perhaps, a new website needs to be formed. For people afflicted by this gum chewing situation. Wanna be co-president??

  2. Liz says:

    I loved this story Miss Sally!! I absolutely HATE when people do that snapping thing with their gum, it literally drives me insane. I was on the bus recently and the woman behind me was snapping her gum every two seconds, I swear I went into a state of rage! I remember when I was studying for a law school exam years ago and one of my roommates was just snapping away while we were studying together, I had to tell her to stop and she got all pissy about it! I’m with you on this one and go you for saying something!

    • Sallyhope says:

      HAHHAHAHAH Oh my gosh!! Writing this post is making me feel like there are more people out there like me. I always thought I was some sort of freak with this weirdo annoyance thing. But now I know I’m not alone. And DUDE. You don’t even know (or perhaps you do). I can’t do ANYTHING else when gum chewing is present. And my upset just grows and grows. It’s bad enough that when I even SEE someone chewing gum, maybe in another car, or from across the street or something, I get grossed out. Gum Chewers Anonymous…Hi, I’m Sally. And I have a problem. :)

  3. Oh no! I feel like you are personally speaking to me. I am that annoying person always snapping her gum. I have tried to break the habit by giving up gum entirely. So far, so good!

    I also just had an amazing chat with Liza (above) and what I am going to do different for myself is restore my self-confidence personally and professionally!

    • Sallyhope says:

      Hahahha! Oh my goodness girl! Well I guess it’s up for debate on who’s habit it is to change. The gum chewers or the one’s bothered by it. BUT, with that being said…I appreciate the awareness, as I assume that most people who chew loud or smack their gum just aren’t aware or don’t care. Life is so funny. And WOO HOOOO about the self-confidence. I feel like that is all of our lessons to learn in this world. Self-love and self-care and self-confidence. How can I help support you on this new “different”?

  4. Jovanka says:

    This is really cute but also insightful. I enjoyed your writing and storytelling. And more importantly, the lesson. Change is in fact about creating new patterns and repeat them long enough that eventually they become part of our daily habits. Thanks for the post!

    • Sallyhope says:

      Miss Jovanka…YES! That is exactly right about patterns. And I love how you spoke about it, in that it’s a practice. That if we keep doing it, it becomes regular way of life. I think that’s one of the big secrets to life. That if we want different, we have to not only do different, but we have to be different. Thank you so much for reading and writing in and if you dig the vibe of the site…get in on my newsletter so I can let you know when new posts happen.

  5. You make me laugh . . . not that your gum problem is funny, you just write in a very entertaining way. I don’t have a gum problem, but there are other things that make me crazy. Good for you for standing up for what you needed. Awesome that it worked out so well.

  6. Ooops. I’m the gum chewing yoga teacher! To my defense, I don’t chew gum in the daytime, just at night, late night, when I’m writing and am at my computer…to stop chewing my cuticles actually…but that’s neither here nor there ;)

    I have been in both situations in a yoga class. I’ve been approached by students requesting something: close the window, open the door, turn off the music, don’t burn incense, and everything in between…

    don’t touch me…

    that’s a good one

    And I have to admit that I have not had the cojones to go up to someone and speak my mind. I would have more than likely left (in a nice sweet way and taken all the ‘blame’ since it was my issue with the whole gum chewing thingm, not the teachers)

    Being raised in a latin catholic family leaves a heck of a lot of remnants!

    I’ll keep this story in mind next time I find myself in a similar situation!

    Just hypothetical, what would you have done if she didn’t respond in the way that she did? What if she just didn’t stop chewing gum? Or said something like I’m sorry that bothers you but this is a gum chewing class?

    I’m always afraid of that scenario, which is why I usually keep my mouth shut.

    Issues. I know ;)

    • Sallyhope says:

      Miss Elsie…I love the question you ask about what I would do if they didn’t stop chewing gum. Honestly, that is ok too. It’s like my feelings are mine, and someone else’s feeling are theirs. I don’t expect that everyone will agree with me or feel the same way I do. All I can do is voice my opinion and see what happens. If she would have said “sorry…gum chewing all the way in this class” I probably would have said that I understood and would have asked for my money back and left. She doesn’t have to stop, but I also don’t have to be around it. I think not stopping is totally fair too. Great question lady. :)

  7. Layla says:

    For me it’s eating.

    My roommate’s boyfriend eats chips like CHOMP! Smacksmacksmacksmacksmack. It’s like something bad will happen if the first chew isn’t loud and the rest of the chews aren’t as fast as humanly possible without biting your tongue.

    My ex ate like a cow (not the reason we broke up, but got super annoying near the end) and it sounded like he was trying to make the worst noises with his mouth.

    A surprisingly large number of well-liked people with lots of friends, chew really loudly. It’s like nobody else notices that it’s awful to be around them when they’re eating.

    • Layla says:

      PS: good for you for asking. I’ll keep that in mind next time the people in my classes at school are talking – rather than imagining turning around and yelling at them to shut up, I’ll just turn around and quietly ask them to be quiet.

    • Sallyhope says:

      Oh my goodness girl, I know exactly what you’re talking about! It’s so weird. It’s like…how on earth do all those other people not notice?? I wish I was one of them. It would make my life so much easier. Maybe there’s some kind of hypnotherapy for it or something. :)

  8. Jen Harris says:

    I could totally relate to this!!! I can not stand the sound of gum chewing, gum snapping, lip licking… Any of it! As irrational as I feel.. It actually makes my skin crawl! Thank you for writing about this and making me feel less of a freak!

    • Sallyhope says:

      Oh girl…I’m with you! And I always felt like such a freak for having this weird thing. I’m so glad to know I’m not alone! :)

  9. J says:

    I’ve suffered…and yeah, it’s definitely a “suffering” issue…with this selective sound sensitivity since I was a kid. The almost physical pain, the irrational hatred and loathing sparked by gum noises and many eating noises, like the clink of a fork against teeth. I used to eat in my room just to escape the horror of mealtimes with my parents. I just thought I was completely irrational and pet peevey, but then I came across this article in the times and was completely dumbstruck:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/06/health/06annoy.html?_r=0

    The article doesn’t offer or suggest a solution, but the fact that there are others out there, and that it’s an actual diagnosable disorder, gives hope for future relief. Also, knowing it’s not just you being crazypants is nice. :-)

    • Sallyhope says:

      Oh my gosh!! This is the best thing I’ve ever heard. Yeah both my sister and I have (several times) eaten in our rooms, or left movie theaters. It really gets in the way. And it’s hard to not feel psychotic. Glad to have another friend in the tribe. :)

  10. Anna says:

    OMG love this post Sally! We all have a few of those little buggers that annoyingly creep up and challenge us to sit and stew or stick up for ourselves (dramatic, but not sure how else to put it).

    I sort of HATe children in soaking pools…its like “quit splashing in my zen zone you little booger!”. I love kids, but not in soaking pools :)

    • Sallyhope says:

      HAHAH! Girl I totally hear you. Sometimes there are just little things that piss us off and we can’t help it. Speaking of the pools, the other night I was in a hot springs at like 9:30pm, enjoying the live band and a glass of wine and these kids were splish splashing away. It was 20 degrees outside, so you could understand why I didn’t really want to get my hair wet. And each splash splashed water all over my hair. HAH! It took everything I could muster to not get mad. :)

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