Socials.

“If this post doesn’t get at least 100 likes I’ll delete it.” “150 likes is acceptable, but a good post is 200+ likes.” For a really long time I’ve always set standards for myself on social media. I’ve felt that likes were a reflection back on me. On whether or not I was doing enough. On whether or not I was attractive enough. I’ve let the number of likes on social media posts define me as a person.

But then enter yesterday. When I posted a photo of my dog just because it made me happy. And it only got 75 likes. And as I went to go delete it, I began to wonder why deleting it was my knee jerk reaction. The picture made me happy- shouldn’t that be enough?

And so I didn’t delete my picture. And began questioning why I had even set these social media requirements for myself in the first place. Why did I need to prove that I was worth loving through social media? And the crazy thing is that I know I’m not alone. A lot of people place way too much value on their social media presence.

So I’m trying to step back and be more authentic. Post things that really make me happy, along with the typical iPhone portrait mode edited headshots. And care a whole lot less about the number of likes I’m getting. Because when it comes right down to it, I don’t need validation in order to be happy. I don’t want my happiness to be defined by others actions.

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Lessons.

This post is a little bit different from my other posts, but I just wanted to share a few life lessons that I’ve learned over the past year.

  1. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is struggling. So be kind, because you never know what someone is going through.
  2. Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. Not taking care of yourself helps nobody.
  3. Never ever live with someone you have feelings for. With the exception of marriage. When things go wrong, it’s miserable – you can’t get away from it. And yes I know this makes me sound jaded, and people will disagree with me on this one, but it’s a lesson that I learned the hard way.
  4. Breathe. Specifically “square breathing.” In for 4, hold for 4, out for 4, breathe normally for 2. Repeat. It helps more than you think it will.
  5. Mistakes happen. Don’t beat yourself up for them. Just try to do better next time.
  6. Always be the sun. Never be a planet orbiting around someone else. You exist for so many reasons- your sole purpose in life should never be to make someone else happy.
  7. You cannot be everything for everyone.
  8. Find a hobby- something that you do purely because it makes you happy.
  9. Perfection does not automatically equal good. I repeat, you do not have to be perfect to be good.
  10. No matter how awful you feel, you will always get through it. The sun will continue to rise, and eventually you will be okay.
  11. Don’t be afraid to let go.
  12. Your real support system will be there when you least expect it. When it feels like everything else is crashing down.
  13. When in doubt, pet a dog. Seriously, my dog has gotten me through so many anxious days.

I really don’t mean to come across as preachy here, but as I was going to bed I was thinking about all of the things that I had learned recently and wanted to share. Hopefully, reading this will resonate with someone, and maybe even help them. Anyway, I’m actually going to bed now. Goodnight, Internet.

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Growth.

I thought I was over it. I thought I had really, truly found my peace with what happened with my best friend. My therapy session actually ended five minutes early this week because I was doing so well. I had accepted responsibility for what I was actually responsible for, and nothing more. I had accepted how toxic, and anxiety inducing, my relationship with my best friend had gotten.

But then my best friend came back to finish moving out of the apartment today. And I was caught off guard. And then I was swept away by a wave of hurt. Seeing her in person hurt. I was reminded of all of the ways in which she hurt me. Honestly in which we hurt each other. And when the wave of hurt washed across me, it took my inner peace with it. And I was left feeling caught off guard, vulnerable, anxious, and abandoned. On the verge of tears.

Normally, I would have immediately retreated to my room. Isolated myself. Made myself feel worse and more alone. Worthless. But today I couldn’t do that. My dog is staying with me and locking myself, and him, into my room for the entirety of the weekend is so completely unfair to him. So I made myself stay out in the living room and deal with the hurt. And I’m not going to say that I did it perfectly. I definitely didn’t. I ended up restricting. But I still ultimately ate something for dinner.

And then I paused and realized just how much progress I’ve made. Even from a few months ago. I didn’t let me emotions, or my anxiety, completely overwhelm me as I’ve done in the past. Instead I allowed myself to feel them. And let them pass without a reaction. Even a month ago, that would’ve been nearly impossible. And I realized that, wow, I’m really proud of myself. I’ve grown so much in the past few months. And that’s an accomplishment worth celebrating- at least in my humble opinion.

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Nomination.

Thank you to Jill (Food, Feelings, and Freedom) for the nomination for the Sunshine Blogger Award! The award works normally works like this: first, I answer 11 of Jill’s questions. Then, I ask my nominees questions of my own. However, since I’m still relatively new to the blogging community, and the person who I would’ve nominated, nominated me instead, I’m going to just encourage anyone who reads this post to answer my questions in the comments section. That way, we can all get to know each other a little better, and spread as much sunshine as possible! And yes, I fully realize how cheesy this sounds.

Question 1: What do you do when you’re having a bad day?

Honestly, I’ve only recently learned how to take care of myself during a bad day. Before, I would always just try to push through it and ignore it. I would not recommend doing that. Now, instead, I like to curl up in my favorite blanket (shoutout to Target for providing ridiculously soft blankets for only $10) and listen to some music or watch Netflix while scrolling through my recovery board on Pinterest. I also try to make plans with friends who I know will support me, because I am very much an extrovert, and feeling isolated only makes me feel worse. Lastly, I remember that just because I’m having a bad day doesn’t give me an excuse not to eat! So I always try to eat something at every meal time, even if it’s just a smoothie.

Question 2: What is one thing you are most proud of?

As ridiculous as this may sound, right now, the thing I’m most proud of is my inner strength. I’ve gotten through a lot of things in life that I never would have thought that I would be able to survive. I’m committed to my recovery from anorexia, I’ve learned how to cope with intense spells of anxiety and panic attacks, and I’ve gotten through nights where I cut myself because everything hurt so much. I finally told my parents about my eating disorder and anxiety diagnosis. I’ve rebounded from loosing my friendship with best friend, and have grown from it. At every point, I didn’t think that I could get through it, and yet I did.

Question 3: Do you have any pets? Want any?

Yes! My parents have a dog named Max, and I am obsessed with him! When I’m at school he comes to stay with me occasionally. And he takes over my entire bed, sheds everywhere, and snores, and I wouldn’t change anything. However, next year, when I’m officially out of my parents’ house, I want to get my own dog- a rescue, of course!

Question 4: What are three values you consider most important?

Honesty, loyalty, and empathy. The importance of these three values have really stood out to me recently, as I’ve discovered what friends I can really count on.

Question 5: What are some of your hobbies?

I love taking dance classes! And writing! Although my passion for writing is something that I’ve more recently discovered.

Question 6: What is one thing you would tell your childhood self?

It’s okay to not be perfect! Perfection is overrated and is not equivalent to your worth as a person.

Question 7: What is your favourite quotation?

Honestly, this so shifts depending on my mood. But recently, these are the quotations which have taken over my recovery Pinterest board:

“If you were able to believe in Santa Claus for like 8 years, you can believe in yourself for like 5 minutes.” -Unknown

“Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid. Courage means you don’t let fear stop you.” -Unkown

“I can do hard things.” – My Nutritionist

Question 8: Where do you see yourself (what do you hope for your future) in 5 years?

Ideally, I’ll be a first grade teacher with my own classroom in a great school system. I’ll have a dog, and live in an apartment with awesome roommates. I would love to be in a committed, loving, and supportive relationship. But most importantly, by that point, I’ll hopefully be very solid in my recovery, and in control of my anxiety.

Question 9: What is your biggest fear?

For the longest time, I would’ve answered this question with “being fat” or “gaining weight.” But now, I realize that these answers were just Ed’s way of masking my actual biggest fear- being unloved.

Question 10: What aspect of your life are you currently working on? (Work? Personal? Health?)

I’m sure y’all already have an idea of my answer to this one! I’m definitely focusing on my health right now- both mental and physical. I’m learning how to deal with my anxiety, and am working on improving my relationship with food. I’m trying to figure out what “normal” feels like, in regard to eating and working out. I’m also working on doing things that make me happy, and saying no to things that don’t.

Question 11: What is a risk you took that paid off?

So this is more of like a series of small risks, but just opening up to my friends about my eating disorder. For the longest time I was terrified of sharing because I didn’t want to feel vulnerable, but everyone I’ve told has been so incredibly loving and supportive. I’ve found that people care about me way more than I thought they did.

So if you’ve made it through all of that- congratulations! Here are my 11 questions for you:

  1. Do you have any tattoos? If so, what is the meaning behind them? If not, what is something that you’d hypothetically want to get tattooed?
  2. Where would you go for your dream vacation?
  3. What is your favorite form of self-care?
  4. What is your favorite quotation?
  5. What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
  6. What is your greatest accomplishment?
  7. What is your spirit animal?
  8. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  9. What do you do when you’re stressed?
  10. What is your favorite memory?
  11. If you only had one day left to live, what would you do with that day?

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Boxes.

For a really long time I’ve tried to fit everything into nice, neat little boxes. Everything has been either black or white. Good or bad. But recently I got a stupid long text from my ex-best friend essentially telling me that I sucked as a person, because I was so wrapped up in my own mess of a life that didn’t check in on her on one critical night in hers. My gut reaction was that I was a terrible, awful person who didn’t deserve to exist.

And then I realized that I needed to reevaluate.

Not everything will fit into the perfect little boxes that my anxiety would like it to. Not everything is black and white. There are areas of grey. And different shades of grey within those grey areas. Not everyone is going to be a good person all of the time, but they still are ultimately considered a good person. Even though they sometimes make decisions that hurt people. Being a good person doesn’t automatically equate to perfection.

Just because I wasn’t able to be there for one critical night, doesn’t mean that I am an awful person. While I truly feel so deeply sorry that I made things worse, I had no way of knowing, at the time, that I was making things worse. And, furthermore, this one night does not define me as a person. I’m a good person who isn’t perfect. Who sometimes unintentionally hurts people, and whose decisions sometimes fall into the areas which are shades of grey.

Even though my anxiety wants everything to fit into nice, neat little boxes, I’ve realized that the real world doesn’t actually work like this. Most things actually fall into the middle area- the shades of grey. And I’m working on becoming more comfortable with the idea of this. And hopefully, one day, I won’t feel the need for my boxes at all anymore.

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Peace.

For a while there, I didn’t think I would ever find my way back to a state of peace. I really believed that I was just destined to be miserable for the rest of my life. But now I realize that that’s the thing with emotions- they can change so quickly and for no reason at all. One day you can be devastated by something, and the next, be at peace.

Last week I can quite honestly say that I felt like I had no idea how to live without my best friend by my side. Now, it barely bothers me. I feel at peace with myself. I’m calm.

This is not to say that I don’t get anxious or Ed doesn’t ever show up. Even though my meds are working, the anxiety is still there. It just isn’t as loud, and so I have a better chance of talking myself out of it. Ed is still there too. He’s actually been really loud this week. But it’s easier to ignore him now too. And revert to a state of peace.

For a really long time, I didn’t really believe in inner peace. I didn’t think it was valid or attainable. I thought meditation was silly and only for tree-hugging hippies. Talking to yourself like you would a small child seemed ridiculous. Self-care seemed like a giant corporate marketing scheme to get consumers to spend money on things that they normally wouldn’t. Basically, I thought feeling really and truly at peace with yourself was unattainable and overrated.

But ever since I’ve started really focusing on taking care of myself, I’ve noticed a change. And for the first time in a really long time, my resting state is a state of peace. A state of calm. And it’s nice. And not overrated at all.

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Control.

“The only thing you can control is how you react to your emotions.” That’s what my nutritionist told me this morning, and I hadn’t realized how much I needed to hear those words. I have spent so much of my life trying to control things that I have no control over. Looking at you, Ed. I cannot control anything other than myself, and the only thing that I can control in myself is how I react to my emotions. I can’t even control my emotions.

In a way, this is so incredibly freeing. I always have this strong urge to fix everything. Not even just in relation to myself, but also for other people. If my friends are hurting, I feel like I always need to be the one to fix it. This is probably my inner perfectionist making an appearance. But now, I feel like I can finally stop trying to fix everything all of the time. If my best friend decides to ignore me for two weeks without giving me an explanation, it’s not up to me to fix it. Not everything is my problem. The only thing I’m in charge of is how I cope with the feeling of being caught off guard and hurt.

In the past, my first reaction would be to restrict. Now, although that thought does occasionally come up, I’m, for the most part, able to tell Ed where he can stick it. Restricting doesn’t fix anything. In fact, a lot of the time, the lack of adequate nutrition heightens my negative emotions and makes everything exponentially worse.

On the other hand, getting myself out of the apartment, being more open with other friends, and taking dance classes are all things that help. Mind you, they don’t fix the actual situation, but they do allow me to feel more grounded and less overwhelmed by my emotions. Because the only thing that I can control is how I react to my emotions. I cannot control the rest of the world. And right now, this is something that I really need to remember.

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