I am not in high school. I know. Sad. Because high school is really fun. And I was in high school once. Many moons ago. And I loved it. I had a blast. I had friends. I dated off and on. And before it was all said and done, I had an eating disorder.
Bam. I just put that out there, didn’t I? I am a person who, now, talks very openly about my struggles. Because I actually believe that in talking openly about it, I have a healthier relationship with my body. And because that girl, the one who had an eating disorder, is just one part of my life. And I don’t even know if I know her anymore. But I will never let myself forget her.
So, as I said, I did high school. And then went on to college. Which I also, am no longer in. I know. Sad, once again. Because college is unlike any other time in your life. I had a ton of fun. And had a ton of friends. And struggled with body image issues and disordered eating. High school and college gifted me some of the very best times of my life. And yet, in retrospect, some of the most challenging to figure out who I was supposed to be being. Because of all of the visual noise and clutter …all of the messaging daily on how to achieve perfection… my mind, heart, and body had a disconnect on what the very best version of me was.
I lived parts of my life in which I had an eating disorder. I’ve said it before, I feel like if I say I had it, that makes me the owner. The one calling the shots. But the reality is, it had me. Once I let them into my life, my eating disorder, body image issues, and low self-esteem controlled me. They controlled the girl that I presented to the world. They dictated what she wore. What she ate. What she said. How she acted. And how she felt about the person wearing her skin. And so, in order to reclaim me… to not be her… I had to take steps.
I took steps. Little ones into big ones. And one day, after times where it felt like I took one step forward and two steps back, one day, I was running. Running toward the person who loved me and who had secretly been there, all along. Myself. And I truly felt free. And now, as an adult, I am happy to be here instead of back there, because I can focus on my health, not the numbers in my clothes or on a scale. I can just be. The girl who has been right there, all along.
It sounds cliche. And fluffy. Right? Talking about self-love and self-esteem seems like a touchy feely, warm and fuzzy thing. A girl thing. A thing that people should just know how to do, right? Or that is a First World Problem. But I believe that self-love, self-esteem, self-respect, and being a healthy being contributes to every piece of our society and affects the impact that we have on the world around us. The space we occupy. I know, firsthand that being dissatisfied, daily, with the person you are can take far too much energy. Energy that is better spent doing good things in this world.
The minute I stopped searching outward for who I should try to become… the day I stopped hating the girl with the pear-shaped build, the never-seemed-quite-taut-enough tummy, and the eyes and lips that looked like a fish… I started learning to see what I did like. I learned to like the girl who was screaming at me from the inside… Just be me!, she cried. Be funny. And loving. And introspective. Be witty. And punny. And creative. Be the girl who is you. Not everyone else. And as I got to know her, I liked her. I liked that girl. And the more I got to know her, the more I let her in, the more I could see she was better than I gave her credit for. And that even the pear-shaped package wasn’t so bad after all. Because it’s the package she came in.
And that. THAT. That girl. Is why I walk. It is why I believe in REbeL. Because after the very first time that I found myself in an unhealthy relationship with food, and my body, I had to take steps. To find that girl inside. To step away from the girl who was trying to take over. And step toward health. Toward a different definition of beauty. Toward owning my true self. And rocking what I got. I had to put one foot, in front of the other, and walk away… and also, toward a new way of being.
I believe in the power of REbeL. I believe that the mission is making a difference. I believe that, if many moons ago, I had the opportunity to have an open dialogue about my feelings, I could have avoided the damage done. I could have understood that I was not alone. And I could have REbeL’ed. And found that girl, the one that I am now, sooner.
So please walk. Walk to make a difference. Walk to REbeL. Click here to learn more: http://re-bel.org/walk-to-rebel/
Written by Ashli Eickman Brehm. BEliever in the REbeLution.