To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself-means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight-and never stop fighting. EE. Cummings
I wanted to kick off this blog by sharing a personal story of struggle that I have never told until now. It is my hope that by revealing more of what makes me who I am, that you will be inspired to embrace more of who you really are as well.
I was a 20 year old collegiate athlete when I realized that my self worth was somehow now based upon a number on the scale. One day in my coach’s office, I was shown a chart that depicted how much I weighed as a freshman and how much I now weighed as a sophomore. All I really remember was seeing this line that rose strikingly upward, which somehow spelled a huge fail on my part. I was being called out because I had put on weight. Obviously I was not where I “should” have been in order to make a valuable contribution to my team. I became aware of my body’s shape and size and what I looked like in comparison to everyone else. I was made to feel as though I just didn’t measure up.
The feelings I had were in such stark contrast to my relatively normal upbringing. I was pretty successful at what I put my mind to growing up, and I was well liked by my peers. I know I was really fortunate in the sense that I don’t ever really remember having a lot of negative thoughts about myself or even taking the time to compare my appearance to others, especially when it came to something like weight or size. However, my experiences in college left me thinking otherwise.
I came to fear and dread those weekly weigh-ins that continued for the rest of that year. The whole experience started a nasty downward spiral in my thought process. I no longer felt confident, strong, and healthy. I began to really hate the way I looked, and I made it my mission to do anything I could to look like those girls that I was constantly comparing myself to. I would try to eat only what they ate, and if that didn’t work then I would often run myself into the
ground by doubling my workouts. I was miserable no matter what I did or didn’t do, and any joy I had was beginning to fade.
By the time I reached my senior year my weight had yo-yoed a lot. I felt so much jealousy towards my friends who seemed to be able to stay thin no matter what they did. I started to suffer from depression by the time my athletic career and final semester on campus came to a close. I thought I had things under control, but I was miserable inside. My mom was really the only one that recognized that something was going on with me. She suggested I go see a therapist over Christmas break to talk through my feelings. I did go, and the advice I received did help, but only for a short while.
I was quickly off to live my last semester of college abroad in Spain. It was a totally different world and though I truly loved the cultural experience, I still had to daily fight the demons within that were constantly telling me that I was not pretty enough or thin enough. And just as before, I tried to emulate the eating habits and patterns of others in hopes that I would look like they did if I just did what they did. And just as before, if that didn’t work, then I would get very obsessive about working out. It was also during my time abroad that I started exploring binging and purging. Atlhough it never became something that I continued to do, I knew that my self esteem was at an all time low.
I spent many years after constantly trying to live up to some sort of standard when it came to just about everything. Numbing the feelings of inadequacy became the norm in my life. I would often turn to unhealthy extremes in terms of my fitness, my eating and drinking habits, and even in terms of how I related to others and myself. In the midst of it all though, I got really good at appearing to have it all together. However, the real me was obviously a mess.
Then, a few years ago I attended a conference where I was forced to dive back into my past. I realized that those messages I took on as a young woman in college had shaped the thoughts about myself that I had been carrying around for so long. I also realized that I have always had value and greatness within, but I was allowing old crappy messages to play over and over and over again until I started to take them on as part of who I was. It was then that I decided it was time to chuck the old messages and instead start clinging to the truth about myself. I chose to take ownership for how I was choosing to allow myself to feel. I chose to accept the good, the bad and the ugly and move on to living the life I was truly meant to live.
Today I continue to dive into improving my thought process. I strive to live a little more authentically everyday. As a result, I have begun to let go of a lot of those extremes I have clung to for so long. I still have so much work to do, but I am no longer afraid to admit when I mess things up or simply struggle to be who I know I am. I have come to love and appreciate who I am as a person, not just my physical body, but my whole being and true self. I have finally come to not only embrace what makes me uniquely me but to also embrace the road only I alone have traveled. After all, we all possess our own uniqueness and we all have traveled a road that is ours alone.
If you are anything like me, then perhaps you have struggled at some point to remember who you really and truly are? Maybe, like me, you have forgotten who you truly are in the midst of what the world has told you to be? I think we all would agree that our life experiences mold and shape us into the people we are today. However, sometimes we allow those real world experiences to DEFINE who we are. As a result, we start to take on certain traits, that we swear at the time are just part of who we are, but in reality have nothing to do with our true self.
I think sometimes we just need to get out of our own way and stop to recall all the good that lies within us. We need to start clinging more to what is really true about ourselves and realize that we possess amazing greatness!! We need to embrace the road we alone have traveled and let it inspire us to live a more authentic life just being who we truly are.
Know that YOU matter!! Know that Girls 4 Greatness is all about inspiring YOU to embrace who you truly are in order to live the life YOU were meant to live. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at Girls4Greatness@gmail.com. and let me know how I can help you rock a life empowered by your own greatness!!