This morning I got up, ate breakfast, and headed off to campus for the first day of classes. It’s my junior year and I’m only freaking out slightly that I’m over half way done with my undergrad. That wasn’t the most terrifying thing though. This morning, for the first time since coming to IU, I ate an actual breakfast. One that consisted of more than a granola bar or a banana and I packed my lunch.
An actual lunch.
In an actual lunch box.
And I brought it with me to school.
And guess what? No one has made any comments or any strange faces about me carrying it.
In fact, I don’t think anyone has even looked twice at it. Why would they? People eat lunch. And I am one of those people. Weight or body size or intelligence or self-image whatever don’t exclude me from that group. Now I just need to work on getting myself to really, truly believe it.
So I wrote this last week in between my first and second class. My first few days were great. I like my professors (well, most of them), I ended up having classes with friends without planning it, and I was so excited to see how much better classes were going to be now that my brain was actually getting adequate nutrition. For probably the first time ever, I wasn’t an anxious mess wondering how I was going to impress my classmates or my professor or how much I would have to do to ensure I got an A. I wasn’t worried about whether or not people could tell I was a fraud who wasn’t smart enough to be there. In fact, I cared so little I didn’t even plan my outfit the night before. I didn’t choose the perfect combination of clothing that made me look completely put together but didn’t make it obvious that I put effort into it, because let’s be honest, upperclassmen never put effort into their looks, that’s totally a freshman thing, so no way could I show people that I actually cared or had to try to look so put together.
I went to class and I learned. I introduced myself to my classmates and professors without hesitating or worrying about how I looked to them. I took notes, I ate my lunch in the lobby of the business school, with a ton of other people around and then I went home. It was great. I was incredibly impressed with how unmotivated I was towards homework considering it was the first day of the semester, but I felt good about my classes. I knew that I would be able to well in all of them if I did what I was supposed to, which I always do because: perfectionist.
It’s now week two and I wish I could say I was still that positive. I knew coming back to school would be rough. My perfectionism and fear of failure are two huge motivators of my eating disorder and academics is where both of those can consume me. I’ve always been a good student. I’m really lucky in the fact that school comes easy to me, so as a kid when I was told to do my best and I realized that my “best” was an A, well then obviously anything less was failure. Don’t ask me how my 6-year-old brain was able to make this connection, all I know is that I cried when I got my first B on a worksheet in first grade, and the rest is history. Looking back, I can’t help but laugh at myself and yet still feel sorry for myself. I’m a little sad for that little girl who already held herself to such high standards that she shouldn’t even really know exist, let alone understand them enough to apply them to her life. But then I laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. Getting a B on a math worksheet was not the end of the world. It did not make me a failure or dumb or incompetent or whatever. So why can’t I still believe that about myself?
As I was writing this I was trying to figure out how to eloquently wrap this up with some kind of positive message at the end, but I couldn’t think of one so I decided to stop forcing it. This is something that logically I know will get better, I just need to continue to process it, so that’s what I’m going to continue to stumble through.
Peace,y’all. Keep killin’ it.
(Someday I’ll actually create some kind of signature or something, but who knows when that will be. Hopefully before I graduate college…maybe. Bear with me, y’all.)