Traveling is therapeutic in a way where if you open yourself up to foreign people and places, you realize things about yourself you may not be privy too. Or maybe your already aware of your demons, yet somehow existence has allowed you to live with them, and find comfort in it. Spain, and my time in Richmond, has had me up close and personal with myself, and I no longer find these demons tolerable. For to live with what holds you back does not allow you to move forward. This blog is about moving on, but reconciling with the past…
I went all the way to Spain to learn and experience a lot of things but above all pursue happiness. I danced in drum circles, egg tossed in buses with Italians, and dated a flamenco dancer but the whole time I was constantly afraid of someone calling me out on being a phony. I let that fear keep me from practicing Spanish more, engaging with my schoolmates more and even at times trying to get to know my flatmates. Although Spain was where I wanted to be I couldn’t let myself immerse in it, in fear that the people and the country I loved so much would reject me, make fun of me, and call me fat. (It’s silly, but people hold them selves back for all sorts of reasons, and it’s all fear)
Nearly two years ago the person I felt I was on the inside wasn’t translating completely to the outside world. I was 165 pounds and 5’6 but inside I felt like a beautiful girl, smart, worthy of attention and confident enough to go after the guys I wanted to be with. However, this extra weight was making me afraid to be myself.I was frightened to go to the club meetings, participate in ice breakers, run on the treadmill, and waited for a disgusted look every time I introduced myself to someone. With every surprising note of acceptance my heart would spring, feeling I had defeated a handicap I’m forever facing when it comes to being in public.
The concept of being afraid of who you are takes on many forms. In High School, we had our cliques, music, and brand names like Abercrombie and Hot Topic to separate us from those who would not be considered “like” us. In this separation, we could easily identify who would accept our quirks and who wouldn’t. We created images, projected ways of expression and feelings that weren’t necessarily authentic in delivery. At the end of the day we know that we are guaranteed acceptance without risking the best parts of who we are. Nonetheless we were saying something about ourselves…
For many people who aren’t aware, emotional eating is symptomatic of virtually all women, periodically, seasonally, or once a month. In my family I dare say its genetic. Some psychologists have said, over eating, or unhealthy eating is a subconscious way for a person to create a barrier between themselves and society. The barrier can function as a way to not be susceptible to the energy of others. Weight then becomes a self-created boundary placed between ourselves and outsiders, a form of control over who we become close to physically and emotionally, and it did.
I no longer wanted to hate myself, and was absolutely fed up with being brought down on the rare occasions I was feeling great. I want to feel good about others feeling good and mean it. Rather than focus on what I don’t have instead of partaking in the joy of others success, beauty and happiness. Happiness in this life is something we work and pray for, why try to ruin it or not empathize with what another has attained? We all have it within ourselves to achieve these wonderful states of being.
I spent that summer before by 20th birthday mostly in solitude. I wanted to rethink who I am in this place and what I want. I watched documentaries about the integrity of food learning that Tyson’s chicken owns half of Kroger and corn or something like it is in everything we eat. It really retrained my mind into not just wanting to lose weight but seriously rejecting this sick system of a food industry we’re stuck with.
My lifestyle transformed over a summer, I was genuinely happy the next fall. Assistant Directing a student produced musical, acing my classes and meeting new people and re meeting acquaintances. I would go to parties and people who treated me rudely before, hadn’t recognized me or the memory of a chubby girl they were rude too was too insignificant to retain. In some cases, to this day some still don’t know that my first impression of them is not one of flattery and kind words. That September the same boy who slammed a door in my face and referred to me as two people instead of one, asked for my name and number. In fact in some circles, that fall was as if I was a new student, just arrived who no one had ever seen or heard of before. Crazy.
That fall was also my introduction into the world of casual dating filled with encounters of body builders with the insecurity of a twelve-year-old, the guy who wished I thought he was a player, The boy who liked me more when I was taken, and The Turk who tried to domesticate me.