What I Would Tell My 10 Year Old Self

I was 10 years old. I sat outside my dance studio on a much needed break from the four hours of classes I had back to back. I remember the sun beaming on my face. I sat with a friend on the curb. We started talking about our bodies and how I wished I was thinner (Reminder: I was 10). I was already inundated with a sense of body consciousness due, in part, to the fact that I basically lived in a leotard and tights approximately twenty-five hours a week. My friend, who was a few years older than me, looked at me and said, “You are perfect just the way that you are. God gave you the body that you have and you’re capable of anything. Be super grateful for that. Gratefulness for what you have is key to being content with who you are. There is no one else like you and there is no need to compare yourself to anyone. We don’t need to strive to be thin…. we really just need to be healthy and think well of ourselves….Treat ourselves like we matter. We all get to be different. And that is a good thing. Healthy comes from the inside out and this world would be a really boring place if we all looked the same….”

That’s actually not what she said at all. That’s what I wish she had said and that is what, today, I tell my children as often as I can. Instead, born out of her own struggle, she volunteered the information: “You can look as thin as you want as long as you puke everything you eat. It’s easy. You should try it.” And so the seed was planted… at 10 years old.

Thus my lifelong battle with bulimia began. This often morphed into a bouncing game between bulimia and restriction. Whatever the mood called for. All I remember thinking was, “this is how to get thin.” Thin was the goal. Thin made me fit in and thin meant I may not be the girl with the largest costume after all come performance time…. as if that mattered. I was obsessed with my body image at such a young age. I had a misplaced sense of self-worth. Clearly stating the obvious right there. I wish someone had stepped in to show me that I was perfect just the way that I was, that I was beautiful in the skin that I was in. I wish someone had drawn my attention to how much stamina I had athletically speaking. I could dance for hours on end and dance well. I was good at it. I loved it, but I hated my body compared to the girl next to me.

I’d give anything to go back to that 10-year-old girl sitting on the curb. I would put my arm around her, tell her that I understand what it’s like to compare herself to others. I would tell her how beautiful she was…. just as she was. I would tell her that life would be challenging along the way, but that the entire me is what the world needed…. not just a thin girl. I would remind her that her value was truly from the inside out and not at all simply what she looked like. I would tell her that being healthy was in no way simply a reflection of the outside image she presented the world. I would remind her that healthy is a mindset as much as a body disposition. I would tell her she’s gonna be amazing and that the she lit up the room with her humor and would affect change in the world in big and small ways. I would tell her that someday she’d be a badass mom that worked hard to provide and love well. I would tell her not to be afraid of failure or not being the best at all the things. I would tell her that kind humans trumped thin ones any day of the week. So, strive to be unendingly kind. I would comfort her that she would be the best at some things, but absolutely not at others and that it would all be okay as long as she showed up with who she was at her core. I would tell her she was creative and strong and friendly. I would tell her that those attributes were the seeds worth watering. I would tell her that people remember people who show up for others and care and give and share and empathize and laugh and hold hands with the hurting…. far more than they remember how thin they were. I would tell her that someday she would raise some great kids that would need to know all of the above as well. I would button up this pep talk by reminding her of what her mom always said, “Beauty comes from the inside out”.

I believe in us, you guys. I believe in our ability to value who we truly are at our core, not just what we look like on the outside to others. I believe in our ability to be kind, to care, to give, and to take notice of others…. because that’s what people remember most about us. Not the size of our jeans.

Resolution versus Resolve

Resolution Defined: A firm decision to do or not to do something.

Restriction Defined: the limitation or control of something or someone, the state of being limited or restricted

I’ve never been real good with resolutions. I see the word resolution and somehow my mind morphs it into the word¬†restriction. As in, I fall in the camp of people that makes a bunch of declarations about what I’m NOT going to do in the coming year. This has not served me well. In fact, I can’t remember anymore what it was that I decided in 2017 that I was NOT going to do in 2018. But, chances are I did those very things I set out not to do. In my opinion and according to my own history, we are all like moths to a flame. The thing we make a big deal about is the very thing we think about, possibly attempt to avoid, but wind up gravitating TOWARDS instead of away from. With resolutions we actually set ourself up for potential failure, or at the very least, a strong mental battle. Our minds are just funny like that. For example, I have set an intention, for several years I’m sure, to not eat sugar. In my case all I think about then at the end of the night is the sugar I want but can’t have. All I think about at a birthday party is the delicious piece of fluffy white cake that I want but won’t have because… I’m not eating sugar.

I’ve battled a thirty year eating disorder that I’m sure started out with a few seemingly harmless resolutions. My disorder started out with resolutions to be thin and look healthy, but soon turned into restrictions over my eating habits left and right and a dictation over my actions, habits and more. Much like an anaconda in a jungle trapping its prey, those resolutions that read to me as restrictions, soon became full-blown constrictions in my freedom.

So, what I’m suggesting is this…. why don’t we bag the resolutions? Why don’t we all just set intentions for what we are going to do. Declare a resolve¬†(defined:decide firmly on a course of action) over what will be ALLOWED in the coming year. If I personally fell into that camp it would look a little more like this:

2019 Resolve:

I resolve to laugh more.

I resolve to wear looser fitting pants that feel comfortable and don’t speak rude comments to me.

I resolve to forgive quicker.

I resolve to write more often.

I resolve to eat birthday cake every single time someone is being celebrated for being alive.

I resolve to speak kindly, tenderly and gently to myself.

I resolve to learn the lesson at hand from my mistakes.

I resolve to affirm and appreciate others more.

I resolve to hug my children more and tell them they are beautiful just the way they are.

I resolve to affirm and appreciate myself more.

I resolve to build on meaningful friendships.

I resolve to eat well. To enjoy what I enjoy. Period.

I resolve to choose that I am beautiful just the way I am.

A list like that reeks of good intention! If I was a moth to a flame I’d like to follow the above light. I’d be happy to get caught in the snare of any one of those things listed above. As you set out today to make any internal decision on what you want out of 2019, I implore you to make a list of RESOLVE versus resolutions that often lead to restrictions. What do you WANT to take action on in the coming year? What do you want to see yourself doing more of? Set yourself up for success. Set yourself up to fail forward. Let’s actually make it a Happy New Year. It’s about time we did that for ourselves.

I believe in us and the ability to set a positive direction for our future.

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