Here you are. Rock bottom. The almost-or-just-past-quarter-life crisis. The Millennial angst, the thwarted expectations of the American dream. You don’t own a house. You lease a car. You owe more to your school than you education was worth. You live in the upstairs bedroom of the house you thought you’d never return to except on holidays, and only for a few days at a time. All you have to your name is a box full of mementos from the sorority and the dog you thought you’d be grown up enough to care for by yourself.
You take out your pain, your anger, and your frustration on your body. You look at yourself in every passing mirror and ask, “Why me?”–only to answer yourself, “Because I’m not good enough.”
You didn’t get the job you wanted. He didn’t call back for a second date. You stopped doing art/poetry/filmmaking/graphic design/theatre. You’re too tired to update your resume because the thought of sitting down at your computer for anything short of Facebook stalking your more successful friends exhausts you.
You feel like a failure.
A “Fat” Failure.
Because it must be your physical body that’s holding your back, right? It must be your too fleshy arms or your not-a-six-pack that’s making you fail in this world.
Let me be the first person to tell you that I’ve been there.
That every pass by the bathroom mirror is a brush with self-hatred, a dance with ED.
That I am not a failure, even though I am not the Secretary of State, a wildly successful VP of Marketing for a major technology company, or working as a dramaturg for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. That I am not a failure even though I haven’t written a play since leaving grad school. Even though I stopped teaching despite the fact that I was running a successful theatre department. Even though I’m not personal training at Equinox on the Upper West Side.
Here’s the thing: my body is NOT what held me back. Being “fat” is not what held me back–feeling “fat” was just an excuse I made. But I wasn’t doing any of those things when I had a six pack either. And then I was sick and tired and wasting away.
And I was waiting.
I was waiting for the same opportunity you’re waiting for. You’re waiting for the instructions that they promised we’d be getting when we were still freshmen, full of pipe dreams. You’re waiting for conditions to change. You’re waiting for permission to change. You’re waiting for directions so you can start.
So let me tell you something: you’re waiting for nothing. No one is going to give you the directions, no matter how many self-help webinars you attend while pretending to proof the latest copy for your boss. No one is going to give you directions, and do you know why?
Because no one knows how.
No one is going to give us a road map. No one is going to give us permission to be happy.
Things aren’t easy because you want them to be. We want someone to tell us that things are going to work out. We want someone to tell us that we’re going to get a better job, find a great relationship, make enough money.
There is no road map for anyone to give. There is not “start” or “finish.” There is only “do” or “don’t.”
And “do” is exhausting. “Do” is uncertain. “Do” is scary.
But the question is:
Do you like where you are?
Are you scared enough of being stuck where you are to go out and change it?
Are you scared enough of “don’t” that you are ready to take the uncertain steps into oblivion and just. Go. “Do?”
“ It is difficult to live in the present, ridiculous to live in the future, and impossible to live in the past. ”
— Jim Bishop
Can you deal with difficult? Can you deal with discomfort? Can you step outside of your body for a moment, outside of this feeling of “fat,” and imagine a life that you want your body to inhabit?
Can you take a few moments and come up with action steps that don’t involve castigating yourself for how you look, that don’t involve quitting your job because you hate it or spending all of your free time at the gym or sleeping?
Do it. Now. Write down the SMALL STEPS, the action steps. The positive forward motion. Write it down with paper and pen. And write it in BIG LETTERS. Take up the whole page so there’s no space for you to add self-hate or self-sabotage in the margins. And then hang that up on the bathroom mirror. And then follow through.
You have no idea how beautiful you are. Your body AND your soul. Don’t waste that beauty by hiding behind the lies that ED tells you to keep you from getting what you want.
I love you. You will succeed. And feeling “fat” has nothing to do with it.
It’s just a feeling. And it’s also a lie. Start telling yourself the truth: then go do.
There is nothing else that can stop you.