It’s funny how the harder you try to control something, the more out of control it becomes.
It was true of my eating disorder, and I apparently haven’t completely learned my lesson, even in recovery.
As you know from my last post, I’m heading to Austin, Texas this week for Paleo F(X).* I’ve been looking forward to this event since before I even knew I was going. It’s 3 days of fitness, nutrition, and health–good food, good conversations, and good people. It’s 3 days of not having to explain why I don’t eat wheat or why I supplement with fermented cod liver oil. It’s three days of being around people who understand the different between GAPS and FODMAPS and who want to experiment with MovNat and Parkour. It’s three days of meeting the incredible “big names” I’ve been following on Facebook and Twitter, as well as finding a community of people with whom I identify.
I can’t tell you how much I’ve longed for this trip…I can’t tell you how petrified I am of going.
You see, I had a goal. Two goals, actually. As soon as I booked my ticket, I decided that by the time I reached Austin: A) my hair, which is still growing out from a horrible haircut last May, would be back to a presentable length and B) my acne, which has re-flared up as a result of my abysmal hormone situation, would be gone.
Two goals over which I had absolutely no control.
And, surprise surprise, my hair has not grown out and my acne is just as bad as ever. I leave for Austin in just a few days, and my pride wants me to cancel.
It sounds so silly and trivial–these narcissistic “needs” that keep me alternately dodging the mirror and self-flagellating in front of it–but somehow, the dysfunctional voice that lives in my head still won’t let me let this go.
But I have to let go. I have done my part–followed every hormone-rebalancing protocol I could find, cleansed with oil instead of soap, eliminated allergenic foods, nearly burned my skin off with baking soda, given up makeup, worn hats, stressed over every new blemish, cried over each bad hair day…and what good has it done me? I look the way I look.
Just like with my eating disorder, where I tried to change my body into something it wasn’t by thinking I had control over the uncontrollable, this whole experience has been really instructive. No, I can no longer do 10 pull ups without batting an eye. No, I no longer have six pack abs. No, I no longer look like my headshot. No, I no longer have scarless skin. No, no, no…
And that’s okay. I’m just who I am, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
I’ve spent my life waiting to arrive at some goal: I can’t date until I’m a certain weight. I can’t go out with my friends until my face heals. I can’t have fun until I’ve finished my work.
But the days and weeks and years seem to be passing by pretty quickly now, and before you know it, I’ll be thirty and will have accomplished nothing because I was so busy waiting for my high school expectations to pan out.
It’s time to start setting realistic, healthy goals. Goals that are less about how I look and more about how I maximize time with other people.
So I’m going to Austin this week, bad hair, scars, and all. I’m going to Austin, and I am determined to stay out late and get up early and talk to every person who will spare a second to share their stories. I’m not going to be “beautiful,” but I’ll be me, and that’s good enough.
See you in CDT,
(PS I almost wrote “It won’t be easy,” but I stopped myself, because I need to stop using negative words to frame positive experiences. Meeting and enjoying the company of other people “won’t be easy?” Come on, Self, give me a break. Time to look at the “challenge” of having fun in a new light. PF(X), here I come!)
*For those who aren’t a Paleo/Primal/WAP/Ancestral Health/Low Carb freak like I am, Paleo F(X) is a 3 day conference designed to be the complement to the Ancestral Health Symposium held in the fall of each year. AHS is a mostly academic endeavor, with speakers from laypersons to Ph. D.’s weighing in on the latest research in the world of ancestral health, nutrition, and fitness. Paleo F(X) was created as sort of the “functional” answer to the AHS–taking all of the great research discussed and debated and reviewed and released in the fall and translating it into “how it applies to me.”
In the case of this year’s event, this means that there will be cooking demos, debates and discussions, fitness workshops, biohacking tools, and much, much more. I’m already signed up for a MovNat workshop, which I’ve had on my “Things I’ll Do When My Ankle Heals” Pinterest board for months, and I’ll be attending the 100% locally sourced charity dinner on the final night.
I’m so excited about this event that I might explode. If you are interested in learning more, check out the website, or hear it straight from the coordinators’ mouths on the Relentless Roger and the Caveman Doctor podcast.