What’s wrong with me? Why am I not like her? Why am I like this?
These were my daily thoughts as I would mindlessly scroll through social media.
Believe it or not, research has it that we complain about 15 to 30 times a day or every 32 minutes that we’re awake. If that doesn’t make your mind spin a bit, it was estimated that 80% of our daily thoughts were negative and that such thoughts had toxic effects on our body. And this day and age, social media has propelled to this to be exponentially worse.
So many times I’ve failed to see what I had right in front of me because I was so busy wishing, ‘what if.’ And a huge chunk of those times it was about my body image. Each morning, I woke up dreading how I would look in the mirror and every night I would sleeplessly think about how I looked to others.
This post details the real, raw no-Photoshop truth of my story and how I got to be where I am today. I hesitated initially to even post these pictures publicly – yet alone look at them now. But I write this to shed light on how pictures are far from what they seem.
I write to let you know that you are not alone.
Let’s go back to 2011 when I was starting college at Penn. It’s crazy now how I can pinpoint a time in my life when things started to take a rough turn. But I was going through my photo album and the photo on the left is actually the ONLY picture I kept from my freshman year. And yes, it’s because I met Ashley from the Bachelorette that day and our shirts coincidentally matched. It’s the only picture I have because freshman
15 20 was real.
Speaking of Bachelor Nation, definitely on #teamDylan
On the right is a selfie I took after I went to the school gym … AFTER I binged on a family size bag of chips and Wawa candy in the span of an hour for five days straight, making an excuse of how I was super stressed about finals. I put on a fake smile, sucked my belly in as hard as I could and took that picture. The next day, I went back to binge eating.
Then comes the following year where I decided new me = new hair(?) It was an anxious year as I traveled solo to Korea by myself with really no other memories than feeling so self-conscious about my above average height and weight that I regretted the trip altogether. Still unclear why the standard size at Korean markets 44 (or US size 2)? But I actually remember catching myself Googling (or Naver-ing), “how to lose weight to look like a skinny Korean” once I came back from the trip. Ridiculous, right?
My senior year of undergrad was when I hit my peak weight. Although I never routinely weighed myself, I was embarrassed when getting my physical that year. My mom begs to differ but I thought the nurse practically shouted across the whole room my weight when I got off the scale. I cried for days, thinking I could never feel comfortable in my own skin. I went through senior year more confused than ever about where I wanted to go after college and who I was as a person – and I blamed that moment as the tipping point.
I wondered how people saw my life through what was posted on social media: did people think of me as successful, did I look pretty enough in certain photos, did I look too tall or fat, did I have any major life events that measured up to those of others? How I looked at myself was through the lens of those around me, leading me to a perpetual worry and desire for something more – and eventually losing the love of myself and my body.
This is me now. Okay, maybe a little less tan than this. But I am actually starting to feel comfortable in my body, my skin, my 5’11” unknown-weight self. Even the first pic of me where I ran with just a sports bra on – that was a first, ever!!!
No abs, no butt, no secret meal plan or strict fitness routine but when I go about my day today it doesn’t start with negative self-talk. In fact, I don’t think my weight has even changed much from my senior year! It’s just I can tell my mindset is different. Looking back, what hits me the hardest is knowing I had the ability all along to start the changes to get me to a better place.
Instilling confidence that I have this ability –
that’s what was (actually still is) my biggest struggle.
Take these daily affirmations with you as you go with your days forward:
- Worrying and complaining change nothing.
- When you’re trying to control too much, you enjoy too little.
- You are good enough.
- Trust me, you are not alone.
If there is one takeaway from this, I urge you to start here and today. If you’re feeling stuck in a place you don’t want to be in, this is your chance to figure out what you had all along. The secret is, the universe will not do it for you. You have to discover it.
Remember this. Even if you have a good reason to be angry or resentful at yourself, don’t. Channel your energy into thoughts and actions that actually benefit your life.
-Getting Back to Happy