Here are a few of my complaints about myself. A few of my very unique and original like-nothing-you’ve-ever-heard-before complaints about myself. I’m overweight. I hate my body. I don’t have a significant other. I’m insecure. I’m overwhelmed. I’m in a perpetual mental state of comparison with every girl around me. Like nothing you’ve ever heard before, right?
I’ve been to a “You don’t have to be fine” meeting before. I know that there are other people at Davidson who feel the way I do. I wish that helped. It’s therapeutic for an hour but somehow, feeling alone doesn’t really go away by talking to people who also feel alone. Solidarity by solitude can only be so strong.
Besides the moments that I’m alone in my room, there’s not a minute of the day that I’m not thinking about how I appear to everyone else. My clothes make me look particularly fat today. My hair looks weird. The way I walk is awkward. My posture is bad. I’m sweating. Just to be safe, sometimes I avoid eye contact with the people I don’t know so I don’t accidentally read those thoughts in their faces. Sometimes the most painful thing is to imagine how my life would be different here if I were conventionally “hot.” I obsess over it. It’s unhealthy. It’s exhausting. I express these concerns to my mom, to my brother, to my therapist and always get the same response: “They have a million other things that they’re more worried about. The last thing they’re thinking about is you.” I know that’s meant to be a good thing- that they don’t care. But isn’t that kind of shitty too? I don’t know how not to care. And I don’t know if that’s a problem with myself or just something that comes with being human.
I don’t want to feel this way.
Part of what made me decide on Davidson was the opportunity to recreate myself. I wanted to be in a place where no one knew what I had been like before – visibly anxious, insecure, and self-conscious. Four years later, and I’m still all of those things. But if you talk to someone who knows me, those are not the words they would use to describe me. I introduce myself to people who I don’t know (or, let’s be real, who I know from facebook and want to know in real life so I can stop pretending I have no idea who they are). I yell obnoxious things at dance ensemble. I go to a themed party and wear something that is explicitly the opposite of the theme. I like for people to think I’m outgoing and unafraid because that’s the kind of person I want to be. Maybe the more I act that way, the more I become that way. Does that mean I’m fake or does it mean I’m trying? I’m not sure.
Multiple counselors and psychiatrists have told me that my biggest problem is that I don’t love myself. That I need to find ways to love myself. Ways that don’t depend on other people’s approval or reassurance. Approval and reassurance that comes from me. Honestly, it is currently and will be one of the most difficult jobs I’ve taken on. But I have to. So it’d be pretty cool if Dean Rusk could give me a grant for that or something.
I’m feeling pretty okay today. Today, I like myself. Today is Wednesday. I hated myself on Monday. I cried in front of one of my professors on Monday. Sorry, two of my professors. The first thing one of them said to me was “I’m just so surprised…you seem like such a happy person.” And I am. Or at least, I want to be. Everything is easier when you don’t take yourself too seriously. My other professor told me, “There are still beautiful moments left in this place.” And there are. Sometimes a perfect, sunny, 80-degree day is enough to make you forget everything trivial. And maybe tomorrow, or the next day, I’ll lose sight of the beautiful moments again. But today, I am happy.