“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.”
~ Anna Quindlen
I can remember a time, not too long ago, where I seemed to be stuck behind a veil of sadness—sadness that felt so permanent that I would never be happy.
Not that I knew what happy was.
Happy then was defined by my pant size or number of friends on Facebook. By the amount of food I didn’t eat and the total numbers of hours spent exercising. It was the time where I felt my only worth was this body and what others thought about it.
I placed no value on my own opinions because, if I am being honest, I didn’t have any. I wanted so desperately to be liked and be accepted that I fell for whatever bullshit was thrown my way. If a magazine told me I needed to lose 10 pounds before summer, well shit, bring on the new diet and exercise plan with the false promises and unrealistic goals. Those were always my favorite.
Looking back on this time, and knowing what I know now, I feel so sorry for that girl. That girl who is hiding behind a veil of depression and eating disorders that causes her to believe this is all life has to offer, that happiness is only for those who aren’t her.
Oh, how I wish that I could shake that girl and rip that veil off of her face and show her the light. And this is exactly what I would tell her:
I know it is hard to believe that there is anything different. It is hard to believe that there will ever be a time when exercise isn’t a chore and eating isn’t an inconvenience.
But that time is coming. You’re beautiful. You are perfect just the way you are and you need to stop trying to change. Your beauty doesn’t lie in the number on the scale or size of your dress, it lies solely in the compassion you have for your friends during their breakups.
Your beauty is in the laughter you bring them and your family when you let go and be yourself. Your beauty is in the way you love. A love for everyone that you feel so deeply it hurts. A love that is so rare these days that you feel like you’re crazy, but you’re not, you’re lucky.
It is time to throw away the magazines, and let go of that false ideal of what beauty is. Because it’s not the 6-pack you see on the cover, or the thin thighs you’re promised if you “do 100 squats before every meal.’”
Instead, your beauty is in your body’s strength. Your thighs might never be cellulite-free, but they are strong enough to hold you in Warrior 3. Your belly might not be flat and have a 6-pack, but honey it works perfectly. Your arms might not ever be toned but they are the source of tender touches, powerful embraces and loving gestures.
The main thing I want to tell you is that you are so much more. You are not this eating disorder, you are not this depression and you are most definitely not what your mind says you are. But you are a great friend, amazing daughter and a beautiful woman.
To know what I know now wouldn’t have been possible without these struggles. But it feels so good to look back at that time and tell myself exactly what I wanted to hear for so long.
Would it have made a difference? I’ll never know for sure.
But I do know that it has helped me now, to release a little part of that younger me still holding on. A piece of veil that was still shielding me from seeing every angle of my life, parts I had never seen before. Sometimes we have to revisit those hard times to see how far we’ve come and how much further we can still go.
The potential is endless when you just stop fighting who you truly are and start loving every single inch of yourself.
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Apprentice Editor: Hannah Harris/Editor: Travis May
Photo: Provided by the Author