Good morning! I hope your week has been going well so far. I’m enjoying some fabulous sunshine today, and I hope you are as well! On this fine Thursday morning, I’m linking up with Amanda to share some of my most recent, random thoughts with you.
Having celebrated my 24th birthday last Saturday, I am reminded not only of the changes that take place from year to year, but also of the ways in which I remain the same despite another trip around the sun. Although each year has its nuances of a different birthday cake, different friends in attendance at the birthday party, a different location, and a different set of goals for the year ahead, I am truly the same, but different.
I spent a great deal of my life feeling inadequate. As each birthday rolled around, I wanted to ensure that I would be better in the year ahead. This was especially apparent as I gained weight in middle and high school. Each year, I vowed to lose weight and each year I felt like a failure as I acknowledged that I had not met my goal.
When I did lose the weight, I did everything in my power to distance myself from the self-proclaimed “loser” that I had been. I tried to forget every birthday that I had enjoyed when I was overweight. I saw myself as new and improved and I wanted nothing to do with the overweight person I had been.
Although nothing is wrong with reinventing things about oneself and striving for self-improvement, my mindset was problematic. It rejected all of the wonderful things that I had to offer and categorized them into a pile that I neatly labeled “fat and worthless.” Even more, I replaced these undesirable traits with traits that were bred by disordered eating. New Erin did not sacrifice a workout for anything, not even her best friends. New Erin did not eat her birthday cake, although she would gladly bake it. New Erin was organized, task-driven, and on-the-ball rather than lazy and carefree. New Erin deleted almost all of the pictures of old Erin, because she never wanted to see that girl again.
By adopting this new personality to accompany my new appearance, I lost sight of the person that had developed fulfilling friendships. I lost sight of the person who was feisty and sweet at the same time, who loved making other people happy more than anything. I lost sight of the person who adored animals and took great joy in caring for them. I lost sight of the girl who requested chocolate cake and Grandmommy’s fried chicken for her birthday dinner every year. When I decided to look back on my former self with nothing but disdain, I lost sight of everything that made me the unique person I still am, regardless of my weight.
Embracing my overweight self is something I struggle with constantly. Looking at her with empathy and love rather than disgust is a daily battle. Embracing my childhood self, who was short-tempered, yet meek, sensitive, and easily hurt is equally as difficult, having spent most of the time since striving to prove to the world that I am tough and impervious to emotional pain.
The reality is that I am all of these girls. I am feisty and I can be short-tempered. I am a sensitive soul who is easily hurt. I am logical and I have good judgment. I am perceptive of situations around me. I still love animals and I think cats are the cutest fucking creatures in the universe. I love chocolate cake and my grandmother’s fried chicken. I like long walks in the sunshine as much as I love sleep and trashy television. I have a sense of humor that is brutally dry, sometimes to a fault. I don’t smile unless I have a reason to do so. I love getting presents (duh), but I love giving them just as much.
Each experience that I have had has changed me, but these changes are additions, not replacements. When we embark on a new journey in life, it does not mean that we abandon our past. As we grow, each new experience complements the existing, unique person that we are. I am not solely my past or my present. I am not fat Erin and I am not thin Erin. I am just Erin, and I am the same, but different.