:: But I’ve started to notice something over the past months since I’ve been walking whenever I can. Sometimes people don’t understand why someone would want to walk.

A while ago, I wrote a slightly rant-y, slightly tongue-in-cheek piece for HuffPo on fitness trackers and mental health (“Counting Steps and Staying Sane in the Suburbs“).

The gist of the piece is this: I walk whenever I can. Right now, for instance, I’m typing at a coffee shop in my small town where I live. But someone might (will probably) call me on the phone, and I’ll step outside to take the call. But instead of sitting on the bench outside the door to talk on the phone, I will walk up and down the wide sidewalk, exercising. (And, since I’m goal oriented, this walking will get me more steps on my fitness tracker.)

But I’ve started to notice something over the past months since I’ve been walking whenever I can. Sometimes people don’t understand why someone would want to walk.

They just think it’s weird.

After the HuffPo article was published, on Twitter, a person told me and a mutual friend that someone who walked around would “freak [him] out.” (He didn’t even bother with a subtweet! How comfortable in his opinions he must be.)

Screen capture of tweet that reads "pacing friend would freak me out"

Tweet edited to protect IDs

[Text in image above reads: [redacted user ID] @krgpryal pacing friend would freak me out]

Yesterday I was at a hospital clinic waiting to be seen by my doctor. The clinic is shaped like a square, with the doctor’s offices on the exterior wall and admin rooms in the middle. It was, honestly, a great space to walk around in. I set my bag in my doctor’s waiting room, picked up my eBook reader, and just walked laps around the quiet space. There were hardly any people there. I was quiet. Office doors were shut. I wasn’t disturbing anyone.

But after a while, an IT guy appeared. He kept asking me if I needed help.

“Are you looking for wifi signal?”


He gestured at my reader. “I thought you were walking around looking for signal.”

I shook my head.

Other times, in other places, people have asked me, “Do you need help?”

“No, I’m just walking while I wait for my appointment [for the dentist, for the baker, for the candlestick maker].”

Remember: 100% of the time I’m reading a book while I’m walking. Therefore, a person had to interrupt my reading to ask me if I “need help” or if “I’m lost.”

I have never once looked lost.

At a time when studies show that sitting is the new smoking, why is it so weird that a person would choose to walk while waiting instead of sitting? Why does it so clearly make (some) other people uncomfortable, so uncomfortable that they just can’t help themselves from interrupting me to see what the heck it is that I’m doing? (Or from tweeting insults?)

There are only certain ways that the human body is allowed to exist in the world. And other people feel A-OK enforcing the rules—via passive-aggressive questions or tweets.

Remember, as kids, how we were allowed to run everywhere? We’d run from the car to the store, from the store to the car, from the car to the house, from the house to the park. Where did all that running—just running for the fun of it, go? As adults, we must travel sedately, unless, of course, we are “jogging,” an official form of running that has been pre-approved by polite society.

As adults, if we are waiting for things, we are supposed to sit. We are not supposed to walk while we wait. Even if it’s better for us. After all, we might freak people out.

Read all my writing on disability and mental health: published pieces and blog posts.

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