There was a point in time when I really struggled to see beauty in myself. When society tells us we need to dress, act, be a certain way, have the perfect Pinterest-worthy life, it tends to break us down. Anyone else with me?
For me, this point started in college. Walking in to the Cafeteria on the first day of college, I was amazed by all the food at my fingertips. So many options to satisfy my hunger…and my sweet tooth. Growing up, my parents gave me many healthy choices for eating, and I was accustomed to a very well-balanced diet. There were treats, but my parents did a really good job of educating me about portion control. Overall, I knew what food I would need in my diet in order to feel full, healthy, etc. However, as I walked in to the cafeteria, all of that went to the wayside.
Control tends to step out the window when something speaks deeper to your soul, even if you shouldn’t give in.
So you can invariably guess what I did my freshman year! And sophomore year. I’d go home during the summer and lose the weight I had definitely gained, then go back to school where stress from classes and balancing my time would follow me, and I would resort back to eating my food.
I recently talked to a massage therapist about food and she told me she always thought eating was linked to emotions. This is definitely something I would agree with. When I was stressed, I would eat away my stress. Even though this never seemed to work, I kept doing it. (Also because of the ice cream that I always wanted.)
It’s interesting to me that your body craves food when you’re emotional, stressed, or tired. All three feelings were ones ever-present in college.
I did gain quite a bit of weight in college, to the point where I would feel bloated and winded when going out for exercise. I’m embarrassed by my habits now, but grateful I can look back and reflect on them.
Going to college and gaining weight is something that is almost normal for many students now. For me, I came home during the summer, and without all the stress and emotions tied to eating as there were during the school year, I could really take a step back and realize how much of a problem it was becoming, and especially more of a problem on me emotionally.
Safe to say, because I was uncomfortable in my body, I was uncomfortable with who I was as a person.
How many of you have ever felt this way about yourselves? Whether it’s eating and gaining weight, or just eating in general, or maybe it’s some sort of body feature that you’re frustrated with or ashamed of. All of these things can be triggers, playing deeper in to our self-esteem, causing us to feel inadequate or low, and it can cause our confidence to buckle.
I think the worst part about gaining weight during college was the feeling of despair. Looking in the mirror, the reflection looking back at me wasn’t the person who I was for many years prior to college.
So what’s the point here??
It takes an awful lot for a person to see themselves as who they really are-Wonderful, beautiful, and strong.
There was a point when I came home after college where I was so down on myself for gaining weight, that I wasn’t sure what I was doing. I felt lost because school was over, and yet here was this heavier body on me that I couldn’t control. Doctors told me to lose weight as I was at risk for diabetes or other diseases.
I had been looking at myself in my graduation pictures shortly after college when I realized that it was time to work hard and lose the weight. So I did.
Trying to change yourself is a process. It’s sometimes long, and grueling, and the results you want to see take time. It was through the process of learning how to eat well again and treat my body with respect that I learned a great deal about myself too.
I was strong. I could work hard and push myself. I was unique. I wanted to make sure I was doing things well when helping out myself in creating better, healthier habits. I was beautiful. Because no matter what I looked like in pictures, I started to realize beauty came from the inside.
It’s this kind of a message I really wish every woman could hear.
You are so much more than the person you see in the mirror.
You are incredibly strong. You have so much guts and courage and determination to keep pushing through each and every day. You have the loyalty to create solid friendships and the passion to pursue your dreams. You have everything you could need inside of you, because you are a fighter. You are a dreamer.
You’re willing to make mistakes, because by making mistakes, you know you can only learn from them and become stronger in return.
You are a goal-seeker. You’re out to make the world brighter and to achieve. You’re willing to put forth so much work and effort in order to help others and yourself.
Most of all, you are beautiful and you are loved.
If you haven’t heard it today or this week or this month, I want you to hear it now. YOU are Beautiful and YOU are Loved.
It doesn’t matter what scars you are trying to hide, or the extra pounds you are trying to shed. You are loved right here, in this very moment.
It took me a while to come to this realization, and maybe it may take a while for you to realize this as well. And you know what? That’s okay.
You’ve got so much to share with the world, and I hope you find the courage and confidence today to shine.