Today is my 389th post. Not significant at all. But something I did yesterday was go back to my earliest posts. Why? I wanted to reflect, I wanted to see the growth and I wanted to connect with the Alex that started blogging.
I know I have many new readers and even readers who were not with me at the very beginning a little over six months ago, so why not a throwback? I think these posts are a great first glimpse as the girl behind The Run Within. The messages are ones I still stand fully behind. Reflection is not always comfortable, but it is worth it. The crawl out of your skin feeling, the want to not sit with those feelings, those moments of disbelief and embarrassment around some actions are how reflection should feel. It should make you wonder, it should make you question and it should make you squirm.
Let’s say the writing bug has hit. I think it is a good part due to all the graduation posts that have been going up, both on Facebook, blogs, twitter… you name it, my classmates are graduating. In 10 days I freaking graduate. No more school, a real life job, a different city…
As my blog title says, I learned a lot about myself through running. But after reading Tessa’s post, I have had a ton of changes within far from the running realm. I know this week, my posts are going to be content heavy but what a better way to go out than with a bang.
In one of my first confession posts, I slyly slipped in that I went into 9 weeks of inpatient treatment for my eating disorder last March 2011. After struggling since my sophomore year of high school, this was my first formal intensive treatment. It saved me. My experience with inpatient was quite unique and a lot to share (hmmm post idea?) But a lot of my growth happened this year, my senior year in college.
I came back the last week of August not knowing if i was ready. I knew physically, I was the strongest and healthiest I had been in a while but mentally, I worried. I knew I was recovery focused but could a school that dragged me deeper down my ED path really be a good environment for me? I had toyed with the idea of transferring, dropping out, not finishing, taking a longer break. Honestly, I didn’t think I had anything to come back to. I had spent three years ruining relationships and avoiding getting close to anyone. Yes my grades were stellar but dropping out would immediately flag me in any sort of career capacity.
What did I do? I held my head high and came back. I looked different, I acted different and I was stronger. For this reason, this year has been a roller-coaster but one I would never replace. Reflecting back on it, I have seen such amazing changes within. (I am not saying I am recovered, or that recovery is a white picket fence experience, I am just saying I for the first time am truly happy with the person I have become, We all have those bad days ED related or not – it is what you do with them that mark recovery)
- I said “yes” to life: This sounds odd but it is something my mom said to me all this summer before I came back. Each phone call I had with her this year she would say, Alex just say yes to life. For me, this meant for the first time in a long time stepping out of my comfort zone and building relationships. Spontaneously saying yes to invites, parties or events. Saying yes to enjoying myself and not just being a work-a-holic. What did I find? I found saying yes was hard, oh boy was it hard. Every rigid mind set in my body wanted to reject it, but after saying yes a few times I found it was easier to say yes in the future. No, I don’t say yes to everything but I say yes to a whole lot more than I ever used to. Random froyo date? Yes! Random dance party? Yes! Random hang out time? Yes!
- I learned to not compare myself to the rest. This is a super tough ground for me. My school is very much a breeding ground for negative body issues, distorted eating and overexercising habits – yet that did not have to be me. I know it sounds simple but for so long I thought in order to be happy, I need to be someone I wasn’t. In this though, I was not respecting my body and only hurting myself. Comparing is very hard not to do but my way to counteract this was to surround myself with positive role models and remind myself of moderation. Luckily, I have a role models that I get to spend a large chunk of time with in Resident Adviser staff. In addition, I think my ED goggles finally slipped off because I started to recognize the unhealthy behaviors and know I DID NOT want those in my life. Why compare myself to something I knew was so destructive?
- I opened up to friends: Yes friends. The things I had been avoiding like the plague for my last three years. I still do dwell on many wonderful relationships I stared with my freshman year that I kind of let disappear but what good is that? I am lucky right now to have a few awesome close friends that know of my struggle and my determination in recovery. These friends understand my past but care more for the Alex now then who I was. I can only thank them for their absolute support during this year. One relationship has just flourished in the last month or so and I couldn’t be happier. She doesn’t even understand how much our friendship does for me personally. I am in awe and constantly learning from this balance she strikes in everyday life. Another relationship that started my sophomore summer finally feels beyond genuine, I don’t lie to her anymore, I don’t feel like I am hiding anything. Who knew I would be someone’s bridesmaid? To me, this was the ultimate reminder of why I chose recovery. Relationships, the ability to know someone and be that close to someone that they would want them there by their side on one of the most special days of their life. Seriously, these two girls just bring tears to my eyes writing about them. And there are more – one who is abroad this term but still sends me emails that crack me up, she has seen me through the worst yet judging me for nothing. One who is the ONLY college friend that I have ever brought home- I will so miss her smile, our walks, oh just basically everything about her.
- I had compassion for myself: I gave myself a lot of time this year, time to adjust, time to adapt and time for self love. Yep, for the first time I set aside time where I would allow myself to just be happy with who I was. I didn’t push my body too hard, I didn’t run it the ledge, I looked at it with compassion and let it settle in its changes.
- I LAUGHed, a lot: This was a big one for me (did I tell you I almost named my blog Brown eyed Laughs?). My personality had come to almost nothing after five years of struggling. Some of the best compliments i have received this year is that my humor has sparked. I am finally joining in on the conversations, laughing my butt off and loving being in the company of others. Gosh, laughing is just so refreshing. I still remember the first time I laughed in treatment – made me realize what I had been missing for so long.
This year, I did something quite remarkable. I shared my personal experience with the student body, yes, a judgmental, terrifying student body. We had a panel of five of us speak about our ED recovery in front of an auditorium of mostly girls but some boys. This was life changing, I had hid this for so long and I was allowing myself to be vulnerable. Telling my story helps me a lot, it reminds me of why each day I stay in recovery.
I can’t say this is going to be my last of these posts because to be honest I got so much out of writing this. Right here is why I started a blog, to see growth and changes within myself. For all you out there who comment or just read, I truly thank you. The giddiness still hasn’t worn off when I see my comments.
WHAT HOLDS YOU BACK
Today my class joined with the Peak Performance psychology class. Their class is all about learning how to achieve our peak performance or what holds us back from attaining that.
We were asked to make a list of beliefs and/or structures that limited our potential – whether it is either because of social norms, gender stereotypes, family beliefs or self doubt. Roger Bannister was the first male to run the sub 4 minute mile. A feat that was seen as impossible. In the few weeks following, over 16 men achieved that sub 4 mile. The impossible mindset that held men back for so long was broken when they saw it being done. The impossible was achieved.
I thought it would be interesting to see what beliefs hold me back in everyday life. I know I am too hard on myself, I hold myself to a standard that I would never expect anyone to live up to. I think a lot of people can relate on this one. You would never yell at a friend when they give their best but fall short in situations, yet we spend days beating ourselves up for it. I tell people don’t worry about making mistakes, they are what you learn from. However, when I make a mistake that self criticism is high and overwhelming.
Beliefs I have:
- People are unable to see me for more than the mistakes I have made in past (aka my disorder).
- I need to get great grades in order to do everything I want in life.
- I always have to be busy.
- I am too immature and behind in the relationship department so finding a relationship will be impossible.
- I need money to be comfortable later in life.
- I will never get to be in the advertising/marketing career path I have always wanted because of lack of experience.
- Making friends once I leave college is going to be near impossible.
- I will always be overly critical of my body and see parts of it I want to change.
I could go on. Writing this down made me realize not only that I have a lot, but also my thinking is still very black and white. This has been something I have worked on, addressed and understood its workings in my personality. Do you see all the ALWAYS, and the IMPOSSIBLE, and the NEED? Very black and white.
I wrote these down so I can see how they hold me back. If I have these expectations that continue to hinder my attitude towards myself and my achievements, there is no way I can possibly move beyond them.
I challenge you to do this. I challenge you to with me break down those beliefs. I challenge you to achieve your potential by being unwilling to hold yourself back any longer.
Not gonna lie, I dug this throwback.