An exhaustive post on change, my bout with an eating disorder, and learning to thrive

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It has been almost three months since I have written, and it’s baffling how much occurs and changes in such a short span of time.

Change appears as a necessary evil when you’re a ‘type A personality’ like myself. You can’t bottle change, control it, mold it, or confine it. In some instances, life changes and you don’t want it to. But sometimes it changes because you reacted, you moved, you chose. You initiated the change. Regardless, things do change. And in the past three months of my life, change has been abundant.

My friends have graduated, moved, given birth to life, bought homes, and found jobs. I have experienced joy, sadness, heartbreak, confusion, and gratitude. I have finished classes, prepared for a move in states, and reflected on who I am and how the past four years of my college life have shaped me into who I am now. I am not the same person as I was yesterday, but I am certainly not the same doe-eyed girl in the fall of 2011 hopping into her car to Tuscaloosa and waving goodbye to her mother to embark on the most exciting, exhilarating, and sometimes empty journey.

Empty is a word that, in my experience, coincides with change. And although college left me feeling full and happy, there was a brief time that I felt overwhelmingly empty. I have debated endlessly on sharing this particular change, but I truly believe that when you accept your struggles, it gives you the freedom to conquer them. And if this is something that can help the next young girl, I have succeeded.

I can’t recall what sparked this particular change, but something did with brute force. For almost half a year, I dealt with serious body image issues. An eating disorder was engulfing me. I changed my eating habits completely. I went from eating a meal like a ravenous wolf to eating a meal like a sickly bird. Bony elbows were small victories, counting ribs was fun, a protruding collarbone was the goal, and a rumbling stomach was deemed a victory. I would skip multiple meals, pick at my food, and obsess with the scale. I was being vain, I was being selfish, I was hurting myself, and I was sick. A girl with a decent athletic frame “towering” at 5’2″ and 125 pounds went down to a measly 105 pounds in the span of a few months.

I was e m p t y. My belly was empty, but my emotions were, too. I was never satisfied. I wasn’t thin enough, I Googled pictures of waif-like models as inspiration, and I was angry that I didn’t look like them. Rachel Zoe at her thinnest was my muse and I envied her. I was in the sickest frame of mind.

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What snapped me out of this rickety roller coaster was pretty simple – my family, and New York City. In March of 2013 I had the opportunity to interview for Coach’s internship program. I traveled to the city with my family to interview. While we were up there, we treated it like a vacation. I remember being so excited to be in the city I had always dreamed about. I was with the people dearest to me. I was comfortable. We had dinner at Carmine’s and I remember that we ordered chicken marsala and cannelloni as our main dishes. I had multiple helpings. I was stuffed. I was full. Really full. I was buzzing – the kind of buzz only New York, good food, and love can really bring.

Things only got better after that. I developed a healthier relationship with food because I was becoming who I once was – happy. I was preparing for a summer move to New York and I was “refeeding” with excitement, anticipation, and an abundance of goodbye dinners, parties, and cupcakes. Once the time came for me to officially leave for the city, I was officially gaining weight and becoming me.

Living in New York gave me what I probably could have never received anywhere else. I fell in love with the city, and I began to love me again. I was trying new things food, becoming a new me, and learning to thrive right where I was. I quickly learned that you sink or swim in the city. So I decided to swim. I swam with the best of them. If you have read my prior posts, you will know that a friend named Udit taught me to appreciate the small things, laugh at the goofy things, and eat absolutely everything.

There’s a quote from Carrie Bradshaw in “Sex and the City” where she says, “When I first moved to New York I bought Vogue instead of dinner. I just felt it fed me more.” Although now I would never condone buying Vogue over dinner, Carrie was passionate about Vogue. She was passionate about writing. She had a passion. I had found a passion that allowed me to heal. I was passionate about New York and savoring every moment of it. New York fed me. It plumped me up both in appearance and emotionally. It made me happy. It made me content. It made me feel again. Deeply feel.

That’s what life is about, you know? Feeling. Crying, laughing, shouting, winking, grinning, tickling, hugging, kissing, smiling, loving, giving, and taking. New York gave me hope and I took it. I took it and I wrapped it up in a ball and shoved it deep in my pockets. And eventually that hope seeped out and it turned into confidence and it turned into faith and it turned into love and it turned into dreams and now its turning into run-on sentences! But really, what New York did was what every young, fashion-crazed girl hopes it will do, it changed them.

So when life changes, whether you want it to or not, embrace it. Look at it from every angle, analyze it, scrutinize it, but never let it defeat you. Conquer your fears, your doubt, your disbelief, your distrust, your eating disorder, your public speaking fear, your self-doubt. Surround yourself with the ones you love, your faith, your friends, and in my case – food. You will recover. Heck, you may gain more than you need to (a few lbs. :)). But you will thrive. I promise. If you are happy, if you are loved, if you are loving, and if you are smiling – you will thrive. And you will learn to love change.

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