In this episode of the Tragedy Academy, Jay welcomes gymnast turned firefighter Alex Pacheco. Alex shares her journey battling with body dysmorphia on top of a slew of other medical conditions starting from a young age. Her story is a testament to what can happen when you fight for what's right no matter how much you're hurting inside. https://www.thetragedyacademy.com
In this episode of the Tragedy Academy, Jay welcomes gymnast turned firefighter Alex Pacheco. Alex shares her journey battling with body dysmorphia on top of a slew of other medical conditions starting from a young age. Her story is a testament to what can happen when you fight for what's right no matter how much you're hurting inside.
🪙 Shifting social currencies
💃 Getting into dance
⚕️ Medical diagnosis
🤘 Learning ASL
👩🚒 Pursuing firefighting
🥺 Changing your body due to body dysmorphia
[01:44] Alex shares her background in gymnastics. She notes that for ten years of her life, gymnastics consumed her. She would attend programs that required homeschooling, one of which included 12-hour days. She would get there at 6 am and leave at 6 pm, with 3 hours allotted for schooling. During her time there, Alex reveals having multiple injuries from her toes to her hands.
[06:14] Alex expresses having feelings of reservations towards gymnastics. She recalls breaking her foot the day before nationals and felt she could no longer continue living a life where she was prone to get hurt. Alex did a complete 180 when she entered middle school. A Charter School that required uniforms, and although she felt out of place, at least one girl she knew and became close friends with throughout her remaining middle school years.
[11:40] Entering high school, Alex decided to pursue dance along with her sister. Although she loved the sport, this was around the time her body dysmorphia began to surface. Alex started to notice the difference between her body and her classmates. What she considered a compliment in the past (having a solid body) started becoming her insecurities.
[16:55] Growing up, Alex was continually being diagnosed with different medical issues. Most notably, ovarian failure. Alex cannot have children and did not experience hormones until 10th grade, which meant she experienced puberty in one year. She had to take patches to produce hormones and went through high school as if she was going through menopause. Other diagnoses' included both her knee caps split in half as well as a broken elbow for three years.
[24:59] Alex shares her decision behind switching from being a dance major wanting to go to medical school. She earned a scholarship and yet still decided to back out due to the massive amount of math classes she would have to take. In the end, Alex decided to become a firefighter.
[32:08] Alex detailed the moment when she knew she wanted to become a firefighter. About a year ago, a driver t-boned her, causing the car to spin. Fortunately, neither she nor her sister sustained any severe injuries but what stood to Alex was the firefighter's ability to be on the scene fast and ready to help.
[41:22] During the peak of Alex's body dysmorphia, she recalls feelings self-conscious and insecure. However, once she started firefighting and joined the circus, Alex was surrounded by people who shared similar body types as hers. She learned that everybody type serves a different purpose and that she's not so different after all. She no longer wastes her energy worrying about what others think and instead shifts that energy into herself and her skills.
[48:07] Alex and Jay agree that the essential thing in life is to embrace it, yourself, and be yourself. The emphasis on the importance of overcoming the fear of being judged because, in the end, the only person watching us is ourselves. Life is about laughing at your mistakes and learning from them.
The Tragedy Academy is a show created to bridge societal divides in a judgment-free zone using candor and humor.
Be cool. Keep Learning.
Circus Performer / Dancer / Stunt double / Model / Firefighter
I was raised as a competitive gymnast. I loved gymnastics but it took a huge toll on my mental health and physical health. Throughout my life, lots of these experiences have led me to the spot I am in today, a circus performer and an in-training firefighter. I would love to show the raw side of being a gymnast that did not make it to the Olympics due to various injuries and how I overcame body issues, broken bones, and a fear of failure.