“I have been so mean to myself.”
The thought washed over me all at once as I sat in my car and drove away from the clinic. I have been so mean… so mean… There was no prettier word that could come to my mind besides “mean” and as I felt myself sticking to that word, tears streamed down my face. After two years of brushing off my body and pretending that none of it matters, it finally hit me what I had been doing.
For so long, I’ve been heaping ridiculous pressure on myself. I think it’s been a real problem since my senior year of high school when I really started trying to figure out just what kind of person I wanted to be – and that person is unobtainable. I started to put all these ideals on myself.
Some days, I drowned in the person I wanted to be. I wanted to be someone so beautifully brave and kind and passionate and smart and talented that it would make a difference. I wanted to change the world. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to fix everything.
That perfectionistic idealism has manifested itself in a multitude of ways over the last few years. It’s manifested itself particularly in my schedule as I try so hard to do everything. School, job, campus ministry, church, friendships, photography, save the world. I have put myself through more 12+ hour nonstop days than I’d care to admit. Yet I get so burned out and I get so tired. I power myself with lots and lots of coffee, but it doesn’t seem to really help. I get not enough sleep at night and constantly feel like I’m lagging behind. This results in heaps of guilt and shame and doubt. The feeling like “I should be able to get this. I should be able to do this.”
But I can’t.
And it finally hit me that the way that I treat my body is exactly why I can’t.
See, I have some problems with hormonal imbalances. It runs in my family and it’s this lingering nasty thing that’s made me gain weight and just messes with my body. In addition to that, I have a long history of being deficient in different vitamins and minerals – including iron.
That’s what brought on the tears after the clinic. My hemoglobin level was at 9.0, down from the already low 9.9 it had been at six months ago and the low levels it had been at a few years ago. It has just kept getting worse and worse – despite my wishful thinking that maybe if I ignored it, maybe it’d slip away in the night.
I’ve been pushing myself to these horribly idealistic standards for myself and beating myself up every single time that I don’t measure up. Yet I’m functioning on less oxygen flowing through my blood than what is good, normal, or healthy. So there’s no wonder that I have difficulty concentrating or that I’m constantly tired.
This finally was a wake up moment for me. It was a sudden realization that dang, I really need to get this is order if I want to be half the person that I desire to be. But not only that, but it hit me that I really need to stop being so hard on myself. I need to stop squashing my soul under the expectations that aren’t meant for my shoulders. I need to shut up the voices of endless comparison and self-doubt. I need to fight the feelings of failure and shame and inadequacy. I need to learn what my life needs to look like between me and God.
Guys, it’s a journey and a process and I am so in the middle of it, if not at the beginning. But I’ve just realized that I need to be kinder. Kinder to my body. Kinder to my heart. Kinder to my soul.
That’s what I started out 2015 saying to myself. I discovered the thoughts in my journal recently and this is how I will end. I admit that 4 months later, I have made very little progress in this area. BUT I am starting to see more and more pieces that need to be adjusted – problems that I didn’t know where there. And my prayer is that daily, I learn a bit more how to just be a bit kinder to myself.
I hope you learn this too.
Who do you want to be?
Someone who is brave + dauntless and doesn’t compare herself to others.
Someone who speaks positively about + to people.
Someone who unplugs + slows down.
Someone who breams big things.
Someone who creates + captures beauty.
Someone who loves deeply.
Someone who worships God passionately.
Someone who thinks hard + asks hard questions.
Someone who is healed.
but why do I put all this pressure on myself? Maybe I need to be someone who loves herself – broken, imperfect, and messy.