This post was written by a senior at CSUCI.
I’d like to say I’ve had a good amount of control in most aspects of my life. I play sports, I have friends and family who love me, I have a job and a car and pets – pretty much everything anyone could ever want.
The one thing I was lacking (and still struggle with) throughout adolescence is a good sense of self esteem and self-love. I can even remember thinking I was fat as early as third grade, possibly even before that. I was never overweight as a child, but all my siblings and cousins were extremely petite and small. I was taller, bigger, and more athletic. Once my parents began making comments about my weight as I got older (which did slowly increase), it didn’t become an issue until I graduated high school and began college. I increasingly packed on the weight (and hateful self-talk) the bigger I got, with a peak of 205 pounds on my 5’8” frame.
I remember feeling so much hate for myself at my peak, and looking at other women (of all body types) and wondering why everyone was so much prettier than me, smarter than me, and more successful than me. I hid in my room constantly and wouldn’t go out to see friends, opting to watch shows and eat in the dark instead. I remember having some nights where I would literally lay in bed and cry about how horrible my life was, embarrassed of my existence, and tightly pinching the fat parts of my body I didn’t like.
After so much hateful self-talk, I became exhausted of feeling that way. It was so tiring to constantly be thinking bad things about myself. So I made an attempt to change. I still wouldn’t leave my room, but I would spend time drawing the characters in the shows I watched, and I also began to knit while I watched my shows. I eventually started working out too.
I didn’t notice any results for months. I continued pinching my fat as a measurement of progress, and avoided having my picture taken like the plague, still feeling tired all the time. But the one thing I did differently is stick to what I said I was going to do, which was to exercise and keep up with the hobbies I like.
I eventually stopped hating myself and was simply indifferent about myself, which was a slow but steady improvement. I kept working at it, and was consistently complimented on my hard work by my family, but didn’t really think much of it. I eventually became tired of living off of microwavable food, and started cooking for myself for the first time in months. My stomach was a little upset at first since it was so used to eating hot pockets and top ramen, but eventually I craved the healthy foods I made and I was excited about trying new dishes.
All of a sudden, I realized when I looked at myself in the mirror I kind of liked it a little bit. I stepped on the scale after not worrying about it for a while and realized I had healthily lost 35 pounds. I remember when I first started taking pictures again, or when I would look at photos people took of me and I realized I wasn’t thinking hateful thoughts when I looked at them – I was just smiling at the memory. I feel like this is one of my favorite improvements.
Learning to love yourself and keeping healthy is not easy. There is a lot of pressure and expectations for what people think men and women should look like and how they should act, and if you don’t fit that mold you are weird for some reason. I am happy to say that I have learned that is just simply not true and I can proudly say I love myself and my body just the way it is. I won’t pretend like negative thoughts don’t slip into my mind every now and then because they do, but overall I accept myself for who I am, which is all I can really ask of myself.
Be kind to yourself! Your body spends 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to keep you up and running. Support it in its endeavors!