It’s true what they say. Once high school is over, the years fly by. It’s a frightening thing in its own right, for life feels like it is zooming by. I am over the days of wishing time away. Now, I wish for more of it. Although these last few months of grad school had me in full on burn out, I did my best to appreciate where I was at the moment.
I’m feeling incredibly sentimental, if you couldn’t tell. If they didn’t feel like such strong words I might would say these last two years were the best of my life. Most certainly my adult life. You see, battling an eating disorder for 5 or so years out of the last 8 years will give you perspective. On the other side of recovery, everything feels so much more… free. Close to three years ago, I claimed full recovery. And each year I’ve learned how much more recovered I could be. Losing the years 15-18 to an eating disorder made adulthood confusing. Sorting out what was the real me and what wasn’t took a few years. Now, it isn’t so difficult. I see more clearly who I am.
I used to always score as an introvert when I took the Myers-Briggs test in college. This year, for the first time, I scored as an extrovert. I don’t think anything changed drastically, but I think I became less scared of who I am. In my early teens, I would easily identify as an extrovert. As I grew older, however, I think I felt ashamed to be outspoken and feared the burden of relationships that I thought being an extrovert would bring. Perhaps deep down I’ve always been an extrovert, but this last year I chose to embraced that.
Another change in myself is that I feel as if I have a million things to say on a topic, but it’s become increasingly more difficult to form an opinion. There is so much I don’t know. I used be so strong in my opinions, but now I feel like I am full of thoughts and questions. Everything seems to have so many shades of gray that I can no longer see black and white. The only things I know for sure are God’s love for me, the importance of loyalty, an innate desire for freedom but also belonging, and how kindness trumps being right.
I asked for help in ways that I hadn’t been mature enough to do quite yet too. After a little over a year without therapy, I went back to it. Prior to getting married I had slowly stopped seeing my therapist as I felt further and further away from anorexia and depression. While I was recovered from both, last summer an anxiety I never knew before hit me. I wrote about sick vs. well therapy and still stand by my statement that therapy can benefit anyone who tries it. Exposing my soul to a stranger felt amazing.
I saw my flaws but this time not the external or fabricated ones. Stuck in mental illness, it is easy to lose yourself and only see the flaws pointed out to you by the disorder (i.e. fat or lazy). Since recovery, it has been different. Being married I’ve learned I am hot mess. [I’m really glad I married someone who knows how to clean because I might would just throw everything away so I didn’t have to deal with it.] Making new friends I’ve seen myself differently too. There are many times that I dominate conversations. I try to finish peoples’ sentences if they seem to take too long finding a word. Sometimes I talk too much about myself. I used to think I’d be okay being a loner. However, God has shown me these past two years the importance of community. It’s not only to foster relationships, but to improve myself. If I am never engaging with others, I will not find areas of self improvement. Areas that matter.
Making good grades used to be my motivation for everything. As a freshman I would turn down anything if it meant sacrificing time for studying. Maintaining a 4.0 gpa became my obsession like being skinny used to be. I slowly but surely loosened the reigns until this past semester when I realized exactly how little it meant to me. I made a terrible grade on a test this semester and I left knowing I screwed up. Yet, I realized that I had no emotional response to it. The younger me probably would have cried and then gone onto think other awful things about myself. This time it was so easy for me too move on. During my grad school years I did things like nourish relationship and watch too much TV on week nights with Terry, both which took away time from studies. Doing these things taught me that I didn’t have to be obsessive about making perfect grades. Studying moderately and paying attention in class was generally enough for me to do well. The obsession only hurt other areas of my life and wasn’t necessary. I could manage both just fine.
My favorite lesson I learned from grad school, I discussed in an earlier post. Life is so much better when I’m not seeing everything as a competition. Dropping this perspective has made everything more enjoyable for me. My journey is unique to me. Sure, others may have similarities to me, but they are their own unique self too. Appreciating, supporting, and loving others is way more fulfilling than trying to beat them.
One last thing. The question of who am I? doesn’t have to be answered. It’s just something that is lived out daily, when I live intentionally. I know my soul was formed by the Creator, so as I live mindfully and strive for a meaningful life, I am answering that question in a way. My emotional well-being, while important, is not the answer. Happiness may come and go, and I am okay with that. Living meaningfully is what matters the most to me.
My brain and heart are full right now- in good ways. A mix of sadness and happiness, making me rather human. I’m thankful to have this summer to spend time reflecting on where I am right now. I can see this space becoming more journal style and less “themed posts” for a little while. We’ll see. I hope you’ll join me for my new adventures in life.
Thanks for inviting us to think out loud on Thursdays, Amanda!