So, this past weekend I had an epiphany while running 10 miles on a rainy Sunday afternoon. I was running up a rather large and long hill in my neighborhood. I felt very optimistic during that run that I ran up not just one rather large hill (of about half of a mile long!) once, but I ran up it AGAIN, and then I ran up another large hill and then ANOTHER! Whilst running up these gigantic hills I started thinking about all the other hills I have conquered in my life, metaphorically… I’ve overcome many obstacles in my life and it makes me proud to see where I was and where I am now. Each “hill” I’ve conquered has truly shaped me into the person I am today. So, let me share with you the many hills that I’ve had to climb. 🙂
The Failure (held-back) Hill
I don’t think many people know this, but I was held back in the first grade. My parents were going through a divorce and I didn’t take it very well. I also found out that year that I had a lazy eye and not only had to wear glasses, but a patch on my one eye (save the pirate jokes). That made it difficult to come into school, because I was afraid of being made fun of… Because my grades were slipping, my teacher suggested to my parents that I be held back in the first grade. I was devastated! I didn’t want to be held back from my best friend, peers, and be seen as stupid… That’s how I felt, stupid… I had FAILED a grade… What a loser I thought I was; a one-eyed, glasses-wearing, stupid, failure…
That was quite a challenging hill to climb. But, in the 5th grade I excelled in all my classes and was even tested for being gifted. From there on I had continued to slowly overcome the “failure hill” and not only made it to the top, but ran far, far away from it. In high school I was the editor-in-chief of our newspaper, won awards for my work as a journalist, swiped up pretty much all of the essay scholarships, made prom queen my senior year, and was accepted into Bowling Green State University. I excelled in my program at BGSU and became very involved in the most amazing organization, the Student Wellness Network, which I became president of for two consecutive years and truly sparked my passion for health education/public health. I even attended and presented at multiple conferences and became a leader in everything I was involved in. Now, I’m about to graduate with my master in public health next Friday! I went from a shy, four-eyed, crooked-teeth, insecure girl to a confident, educated, leader. 🙂
The Disordered Hill
As I mentioned (several times), I have battled with multiple mental illnesses throughout my life. I was dually diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and obsessive compulsive disorder when I was 11. Later, once being recovered from anorexia, I discovered that I developed a newly found disorder, orthorexia (see some of my previous posts on more on this). I’ve also dealt with depression and have General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which I’ve taken medication for more than half of my life and continue to do so.
BUT, I am NOT my disorders… It’s true, they have shaped me into who I am, but they are not WHO I AM. I feel as though I am more in control of my disorders than I have ever been. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to finally recognize the “disordered” or abnormal thought in my head and be able to combat them. 🙂 I’d say I’m standing pretty tall on top of this hill now.
The Ugly/Short Hill
I’ve had many body image issues from the time my age was in the single digits to my later years. I had crooked teeth (yes, I had braces!) and was actually made fun of for it a couple times in elementary school… It made me sad and I was always afraid to smile with my teeth from the fear of being made fun of. I also had a medium-sized birth mark on my right arm up until I was about 12 when I got it removed (for health reasons). I wouldn’t wear sleeveless shirts because I thought it was so grotesque-looking. I would even wear a band-aid over it when I did go sleeveless to hide it! Now, I have about a two-inch long scar where it once was. It’s a rather large scar, but it’s alright – I like my scar. 🙂
I developed insecurities with my body at a very young age as well. I wouldn’t wear jeans or certain underwear because I didn’t like hugged my stomach and thighs. I would actually stretch out the leg hole in my underwear back in elementary school so they wouldn’t cuff my legs because it made me feel “fat.”
Another insecurity I’ve had pretty much all my life too is my height. I’ve always been the shortest of my class and was often picked on for it. Throughout high school people would pick on me, not trying to be mean, but it would still hurt my feelings. I felt like short was ugly, that I was not as pretty or good enough as the taller girls. I always envied the taller girls in my class. I was always told I look younger than my age, even strangers would ask me for my age and would sometimes not believe me! This made me so insecure that I didn’t even want to get my driver’s license and drive a car when I was 16 because I didn’t want to have to explain to people that I am indeed old enough to drive…
That’s why I do what I do! It’s why I started this blog, started KSU’s Body Acceptance Movement, coach for Girls on the Run, and am so passionate about helping others with body image issues, because I was once at the bottom of that ugly hill too! I can’t necessarily say I’m over it just yet, but I’m getting pretty damn close! I still have my insecurities, but I am much more confident in my body than I ever was before and will continue to keep climbing until I am way over this hill!
Bring on the Hills!
I feel that all those hills I’ve climbed, and am still climbing, have made me the person I am today – I must have some pretty strong legs! 😉 We’ve all had our hills we’ve conquered and are still climbing, and that’s OK! Life shouldn’t be just a flat, straight line. The hillier and more uneven the road is, the more fulfilling and invigorating life is. Not all our climbs will be enjoyable, or even comfortable, they will be rough, dirty, and may even seem impossible to get over, but YOU will conquer it! I know there are many more hills to come in my future. I may not know where they’ll be, how far, deep, or challenging they may be, but there’s one thing I do know about those hills I WILL conquer them. 🙂