I know what it feels like to have that voice inside your head take over and tell you that you aren’t good enough. It’s an ongoing battle in my life, a battle that I still fight every single day. The person I am is not the person I imagined I would be. I would have never thought I would enjoy staying home on a Saturday night instead of going out, and spending time with my family rather than my friends.
When I was growing up, I had friends in many different groups. I knew everyone and I loved being the centre of attention. I always had a big smile on my face.
My life changed the summer before I entered grade 12 when I decided to put camp behind me and take an English Course in Italy and Greece. Europe was new to me, the people were new to me, and the experience of being excluded was new to me. The group of people on my trip all knew each other and were not interested in making new friends. For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel accepted – I felt unwanted. It was a feeling unknown to me, a feeling I did not know how to accept. When the summer was over and I went back to my final year of high school, my self-confidence was no longer the same. I compared myself to the girls from my summer trip: tiny and skinny. The girls who would eat salad and anything more had to be worked off. I became ashamed of what I looked like and this was the start of my cycle of body shaming and self hate.
I was no longer happy in my own body and I decided to join Weight Watchers, which helped me lose 30lbs by the end of my grade 12 year.
As I entered University, I was no longer the same confident girl that I once was. My first year was a battle of ups and downs with the girls I lived with. When I came home at the end of that year, I was so ashamed of myself for gaining back the weight I had lost and for loosing two of my friends that I felt I could not return to university. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life and I didn’t know who my real friends were.
I went from being a girl who had friends in every group to having just a few. I went from being so confident and happy with myself, to not knowing who I was anymore and hating what I looked like. I went from job to job and program to program, unable to commit myself to something. I started purging when I ate something “bad” because I felt worthless. I became my own worst enemy and I completely lost myself.
It wasn’t until I could no longer take the pain that I finally broke down. No one knew what I was going through and that I was suffering inside. I knew I had to tell my family before it was too late, even if they didn’t understand.
It was the day that I told my parents that I realized I was much more than what I had let myself become. They were more understanding than I ever could have imagined and I am so lucky to have my family as a support system, along with all my cousins.
I have learned that having two best friends who are real and true is better than having a group of friends who just tolerate one another. Quality really is better than quantity. I have learned that is someone really loves you, they will be there with you through it all, never judging you but guiding you through the dark times. I have learned that those who are there for you at your weakest are deserving of your time, love and respect. I have learned not to be ashamed of your struggles, but to learn from the challenges that come your way as they make you stronger.I have learned to persevere, and accept the things I cannot change. To have courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.
This is my elephant, and I am not afraid or ashamed to talk about it.