What The Middle School Me Knew And The Adult Me Is Rediscovering

beautiful-as-we-are

By Kate

You know that awkward, confusing, somewhat unattractive phase of life that many kids in the throes of puberty wish they could fast forward, and similarly, many adults wish they could forget? The timeframe otherwise known as middle school? Well, I loved it. Not because I wasn’t awkward, confused, or somewhat unattractive. I was all of those things. And I still have the photo albums to prove it.

Yet somehow, despite my breakouts, a bad haircut or 5, and being a little bigger than many of my friends, I was happy. I was so busy writing notes in study hall and drawing up plans for Saturday afternoon, that I didn’t spend a whole lot of time focusing on my appearance. I was so consumed by thinking about how I could make people laugh and was so driven to set a new soccer juggling record that I didn’t really bother to check the size tag on my jeans. At a time where most kids become more self-conscious, I was curious enough about the world around me that I rarely took notice of what I wanted to change or fix within myself.

I made up for lost time later on. I, like many other women, learned to fight my fair share of battles against my body. I read labels, counted calories in and out, watched the number on the scale rise and fall, covered my trouble spots, restricted my diet, overindulged, and generally obsessed.

Now, in my current role teaching yoga and exercise classes, I often hear others echo so many of the same deep rooted thoughts and beliefs I’ve had about my own body. They say things about those last five pounds, how easy it is to gain weight and how hard it is to lose it, and what parts of their bodies they wish they could change. They vent about the meals they need to work off and the dresses they need to fit into and I feel like I’m talking to myself. I get it. Been there. Done that.

But it hurts my heart to hear their words, because there’s something so clear that I see and that they don’t seem to get. I look at these women and I’m inspired by them. I see how kind, motivated, funny, and accomplished they are. I recognize how much they’re balancing in their home, and work, and personal lives. And how they manage to do so with grace. I notice how quick they are to smile and how easily they laugh. And I see beauty. The kind of beauty that extends far beyond any scale, any number, any size.

As I hear other women critique their bodies and I recognize my own thoughts within their words, I finally realize that I know exactly what it is that I want most. I want us to stop being so damn hard on ourselves. I want us to stop stepping onto to scales with squinted eyes, pleading with the dial to inch its way back a few lines. I want us to acknowledge that self-care doesn’t mean self-obsession. I want us to stop seeing skinny as the key to a happy, successful life. Because, here’s the thing, it’s not. I’ve been a lot of different sizes in my life and never, ever, was my weight the determining factor as to whether or not I felt happy.

Being in love makes me feel happy. Playing with my dogs, seeing my nephews, calling my parents, and reading a text from my best friend satisfy my soul. Taking a yoga class, hiking in the woods, dancing in my living room, walking barefoot through the sand at the beach, and taking care of my body create joy from the inside out. Baking, cooking, and tasting the delicious food I baked and cooked, watching football, singing in the car, exploring new places, feeling at home in others, diving into the things I’m passionate about, that is where my happiness exists.

Somehow, middle school me knew that, but adult me forgot. It’s easy to forget. It’s easy to believe that the perfect body equates to the perfect life. Except, perfection is an illusion. So, perhaps it’s time to debunk the myth altogether and admit that we’re okay just as we are. That regardless of whether or not we ever lose those last 5 pounds, we’re beautiful, capable, and worthy of enjoying every good thing this life has to offer right now.

{featured image via unsplash}

6 thoughts on “What The Middle School Me Knew And The Adult Me Is Rediscovering

  1. sixmonthstosanity says:

    Love this! I spent a good ten years treating my body like an enemy, a project, an embarrassment and an inconvenience. What a relief it has been to just accept it, imperfections and all, then keep accepting it again and again — because bodies change, and that’s okay. There is so much peace in that!

    Like

  2. polymath0 says:

    Yes, I really like this too. I went through my years of body image misery from teen through 20s. Now, in my late 30s I’m happier than ever, and I don’t really care if I have a little bit extra. I’m happy to see that most of my female friends are over it by our age, but sad to find that most of my male friends are just starting the phase we went though in our teens.

    Like

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