I’m finally out of the period where coming to college felt like sleep away summer camp…
As I’m starting to adjust to college life, and being away from home, the more real it seems. I am beginning this new chapter of my life, and it is both incredibly scary yet thrilling at the same time! I’ve never been good with change, and I think that’s because I like to be in control.
But you know what I’m learning?
The only thing that we can control is how we perceive the world, our work ethic and drive, and how we respond to experiences in our lives.
As cliche as it may sound, life is not a straight pathway. We must accept detours with faith in both ourselves, and fate. There will be times of bad, but there will always be times of good to follow.
I used to thrive on control, as evident in my eating disorder. It gave me an excuse to hide behind all my insecurities. And although it doesn’t make sense now, at the time, I clung to that ounce of control I had because it made me feel like I had some worth.
If people didn’t think I was pretty, smart, athletic, or interesting enough, at least I could be skinny.
At least I could sustain myself on 800 calories a day.
And I feel silly admitting this to you, but this needs to be said. That mindset is destructive. It made me small, and I am not talking about jean sizes or the number on the scale.
I am talking about self worth. I became a small person; my entire existence was small. I chose to limit myself, and with that, came extreme unhappiness.
While I restricted every bite, every calorie, I didn’t just compromise my physical health (which I surely did), I also compromised my mental health.
I developed social anxiety, and I didn’t want to leave my house. I hated eating in front of others. I didn’t want to meet new people. I didn’t want to try new things. I lived in fear.
All I wanted was a smaller stomach, bonier hips, a thinner face. I ate minimally. I exercised as much as my frail self could tolerate. I barely slept.
Of course I didn’t acknowledge any of this in the midst of my eating disorder, and I hadn’t fully realized how far I had plummeted into such a dark abyss until I was in recovery.
With the help of my family and therapy, I started to realize that fearing foods wasn’t normal. And no, it’s not okay to jam my fingers down your throat to get rid of my meal. I shouldn’t feel an adrenaline rush every time I have to raise my hand in class.
I didn’t have to be irritable all the time, and the feeling of hunger was not a measure of success. I didn’t have to push my friends and parents away. I found that guys do not find starving myself attractive.
So what’s the point? What did I get out of both having and recovering from an eating disorder?
The point is that we can only control so much. And what we can control, often makes a world of difference.
I’ve come to learn that life is sometimes messy. But in the midst of chaos, it can also be wonderful.
You can control certain aspects of your life. Choose to work hard. Choose to be kind. Choose to try new things. Choose to have a positive outlook. Choose to be adventurous. Choose to love instead of hate.
And although you can control how you carry yourself, it is impossible to control the words, actions, and reactions of other people. You cannot derive happiness based solely on other people.
And while we can seek joy, companionship, love, support, and compassion from others, we cannot expect perfection. Human relationships are amazing, and I definitely urge you to find friends and loved ones that love you unconditionally. Find people who want to guide you towards bettering yourself. Find people who try to empathisize with your struggles. Find people who are genuine.
However, we must also accept that sometimes people may let you down, hurt you, or not return your feelings. Human beings are flawed creatures and we must have enough strength, clarity, and self love to accept such a truth.
I believe true happiness is nurtured from within. Although it is normal to have moments of grief, stress, anger, and discontent…we must acknowledge that those feelings are only a small fraction of life.
There will always be good. There will always be sunlight in the world as long as you turn your face towards the rays.
You must be active in seeking a life with strong undertones of contentment. You cannot control everything, but you can choose to have faith, to love, to be optimistic, and to perservere.
I once chose to count calories. I once chose to hurt myself. I once chose to hate my body and who I was. I once chose to let others’ perceptions of me dictate my happiness.
And though I am still far from perfect, I have found a balance. If you put positive energy into life, there will always be moments of beauty to come. Life is better when you have faith in the overall virtue of the world. Small lapses can no longer dictate your life, if you always look towards the sky with hope and acceptance that life is not one experience, but a compilation of ever-changing moments.
I know life can be hard. But, have peace in your heart, and clarity in your mind. Do not let negative external sources cloud your outlook on life. Breathe in and accept what you cannot control, but always seek out the good that you can.
Sending you all my love and best wishes,