We were three intervals in, and half-way through the fourth (and last) interval set. Thirty more seconds of "plank walks", one minute of active recovery, a final one minute push, and then the class was over. I just remember my favorite instructor calmly saying through the microphone over the music, "You can do this. You're stronger than you think you are". Left forearm down, right forearm down. Left palm down, right palm down. Left forearm down, right forearm down. Left palm down, right palm down. Just push through these last 30 seconds, and every day you get stronger. 

Its been over a year now, however recently for some reason the look on his face keeps popping into my mind, and I can't shake it. 

In college, my nickname was the "Big A" (A for Asian) because there was a "Little A", and throughout my life I have never been particularly small. I started practicing Taekwondo when I was four, and got my blackbelt when I was 10. From there, I started playing sports and continued through college playing volleyball and rugby. 

I have been told that I smile too big, and I am too trusting of strangers.

While traveling alone for the first time, I was happy to help my new friend try to find his passport that had gone missing. After searching for a few hours and going to multiple police stations, we decided to call it a night and head back to the hostel. On the way back we grabbed a beer, and sat outside and watching people drive by on their motorbikes. Pretty busy for 11 o'clock at night, but what did I know. I had just gotten there.

One thing led to another, and I remember him kissing me - hard. While it was happening I remember thinking about how the travel book stated that most locals think that Asian girls traveling with white men are prostitutes. "Oh great, people probably think I'm a prostitute." I'm not one for being intimate in public, but I kissed him back because - what the hell, I was traveling. Quickly realizing that this wasn't my style, I casually brushed him off trying hard not to offend him, but also really trying not to continue anything more.

We went back to the hostel, and I remember washing up in the extremely dingy bathroom. The bathroom floor constantly wet with some liquid, the soggy roll of toilet paper, and a shower head but no shower curtain. Exhausted and eager to end the day, I opened the bathroom door to find him standing there waiting on the other side. Thrown off guard, my eyes darted from the doorknob up to his face, to see these eyes filled with determination and (for lack of a better word) lust. 

I don't remember saying anything, or having time to say anything before I felt the wall tiles against my back. That jolt of fear that runs through your body. He must have pushed me back the length of the bathroom, but I don't remember if the door was open or closed. I do remember feeing the pressure on my chest - pinned by his muscular body sandwiched between him and the wall. I do remember his hips moving against mine, thrusting his hard penis through his shorts into my upper thigh and hip area. Just over and over again. 

I couldn't move. 

I didn't move. All those years of self-defense training and sports I had under my belt disappeared in an instant, and I just froze. My mind was just thinking over and over, "This is bad. This is bad. I don't want this." 

I've always been seen as the strong one. More muscular than most of my friends, but also emotionally strong. What happened?

I managed to push him off and wiggle out from under him. Darted out of the bathroom and quickly climbed into my top bunk. In the dark, I texted my best friend back home saying that something bad just happened, but it could have been a lot worse.

Curled up in a ball facing the wall, I remember the guy whispering my name a few times and gently shaking the bed frame to see if I was awake. My eyes wide open, I watched the light from my phone bounce off the wall as my friend texted me back. Too scared to move, I left them unread, not wanting him to realize I was still awake. I felt him standing there just staring at my back, and eventually I fell asleep lying there hoping that he wouldn't dare try to climb up into my bunk with me.

For the longest time I felt ashamed about this because I didn't say anything to the guy or do anything. I probably led him on by spending too much time with him trying to help him find his passport, and I shouldn't have kissed him back outside the bar.  My parents raised their daughters to be strong and independent, and they trained us to be alert and to be able to defend ourselves. I take much pride in this as well, and yet when I actually needed to defend myself I completely shut down. I regret not saying anything. I regret not standing up for myself. 

Sharing this story is uncomfortable because not only am I still embarrassed by it, but it's also extremely personal. It's also not a success story, but I guarantee not of mine will be. I'm sharing this story as a lesson to everyone, as there is no need to repeat this one.

So to all the women out there, speak up a little each day. Train your body to be able fight back a little each day. Stand up for yourself a little each day. You're stronger than you think you are. 

9 things

9 things

fields of wildflowers

fields of wildflowers