To The Friends Who Are Struggling With Dark Times, Don't Ever Forget The Light You Bring To Others

To The Friends Who Are Struggling With Dark Times, Don't Ever Forget The Light You Bring To Others

You're doing your best and I see that.

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To my struggling friends as the new semester begins to kick in, I see you.

You are doing great.

I see your tears of frustration, anger, and stress. It hurts me to see you overwhelmed and stressed. It hurts me to see that you don't see what I see. When I look at you, (Emily, this ones for you) I see a determined driven young woman. I see someone who is striving to get her sh*t together before midterms.

With the countless hours of flight lessons you complete or attempt to complete, the long hours you work on the weekends, and the amount of time I see you put into our church, I can see how you think that you're not doing as hot as you want to be. I can see that you don't see you as I do because you're too busy focusing on your academics, Faith, and finances. I get it, but I want you to know that despite these things, you're amazing.

Despite the fact that you may not have time to step back and reflect on the amazing person that you are, I make the time to reflect for you.

Your hard work doesn't go unnoticed. The way that you always make time for the things you love even if it means interference with something else is something that not a lot of girls in our class do. I admire the way you prioritize and balance your life. Although you may not feel as though you have your poop in a group, it looks like you do.

And that, my friend, is wonderful.

Not because you seem like something you may not be, but because it shows strength and balance. Strength and balance I wish I'd developed sooner. You're doing your best and even though sometimes it may feel like your best isn't enough, for me, it is. For me, I see you doing your best, I see you trying, I see you engaged. Just remember that your best is always good enough for me. It is when you do something well above what you think is your best that I remember why you're my best friend. You put forth everything you have into everything you do and that's a quality that many people lack.

I want to remind you that although you don't feel 100%, it is because of your endless love and dedication that I am where I am today.

Your motivation is what has gotten me to church, back to the gym, and out of bed every morning. You are my favorite person and I feel as though you need to hear this every single day and I try to tell you every day how much you mean to me. You deserve nothing less than genuine happiness and success. You are the type of friend that I didn't know I needed until I met you. Now that you're in my life, good luck leaving. There is nobody else I'd rather worship with, workout with, or get weird stares from other people with. You bring out the absolute best in me and that's something I haven't been able to say about anybody ever. So, to my friend who is struggling, I love you and this storm will also pass.

To my other friends who may be struggling, know that I feel the exact same way about you.

Your smiles are the sunshine in my day. Your laughter is music to my ears, especially the snorts that come along with it. Your hard work and determination is refreshing. Your endless love for me, the gym, genuine happiness, God, coffee, and breakfast dates is rare. I can't express my love for you in words, there just aren't enough of them. I can't express my thanks for having you in my life enough, there just isn't enough thanks to go around. You are my reason to keep going, to persevere, to push through, to get out of bed. You are my reason behind what I do. You are the reason I found myself when I was lost. You are my reason.

So when you feel like the going is tough, like you're not worthy, like you don't want to go on with anything, just remember that I look to you for everything.

That you give me purpose and a reason to thrive. Remember that when you don't feel loved, I love you. I love you with everything in me and you make my world keep spinning. Without you, there would be no true me. You are worthy of everything life has to offer you. You are worthy of so much, so please, remember that the next time you feel as though you're not worthy.

Because you are. You are the light and I love you.

~Happy Life~

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To The Girl Who Is Already Healthy And Doesn't Even Realize It

You don't see what others see, because all you can see are your flaws.
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To The Girl Who Is Trying To Get Healthy Again,

Anyone who is currently struggling with body issues or has a past with it can relate to never feeling satisfied with your body. You keep striving for "healthy," but you're already there. You just don't know it yet.

Girl, listen to me when I say: You're doing just fine.

Actually, wait, you're doing better than fine. You are strong, you are healthy, you're a bad ass bi***, you just need to wake up every morning and tell yourself that you are, and then carry your day out that way.

Everyone can tell you that you're "tiny" or that "you look great" but it doesn't resonate with you. You don't see what other people see, because all you can see are your flaws.

You are too hard on yourself. Food that other people wouldn't think twice about eating stresses you out beyond belief. They see a slice of pizza, you see numbers. You see the calories, carbs, and fat. People don't see the battle within between you and food, but it exists.

You have different expectations of "healthy." If you eat any bread at all or even a simple sandwich, you'll feel unhealthy. If you eat a piece of chocolate, you will feel unhealthy. If you eat cheese, you'll feel unhealthy. Even healthy foods freak you out. Peanut butter is full of fat. Almonds too. (Good fats, people). The rice that you eat your chicken and vegetables with somehow inflicts guilt on you because of the carbs. You try your hardest to be healthy, but you're so hard on yourself that you still feel unhealthy. You still feel "fat."

You are not fat. But guess what? You need those fats to survive. You need energy, and you need to nourish your body. Please, stop feeling guilty for fueling your body.

You obsess over everything you eat, and admire people who can eat freely without guilt. People don't understand that it's not just the stereotypical pizza, pasta, and Big Mac that freaks you out. It's the things others consider normal like sandwiches, cheese, a girl scout cookie, coffee with creamer.

You workout regularly, and you feel "fat" when you miss a day. You are not unhealthy if you miss a day at the gym, you are not unhealthy if you don't burn all of the calories you ate for breakfast, you're not unhealthy if you skip cardio for the day.

You're not crazy, you're not weird, and you're not broken. You struggle with an eating disorder, and that's okay. And can we talk about that harsh title? Let's end the stigma. An eating disorder is not anything to be embarrassed about. It doesn't mean you're a skeleton, and it doesn't mean you're over weight. It shows itself in so many ways and stories, most of which are untold. They can be considered mild with calorie counting, or severe with restricting, binge eating and purging, excessive exercise to burn every calorie consumed. There are so many different aspects to having an ED.

To the girl that faces this battle every day, to the girl who is recovering and still has that faint voice in the back of her head every time she eats, to the girl who never feels healthy enough or good enough: You are. You are so enough. You are healthy, you are strong. You can eat bread, you can eat cheese, hell, you can eat whatever you want. One meal doesn't make you fat. Stop beating yourself up for the calories, carbs and fats you consume even with healthy foods like rice, almonds, avocado, and peanut butter. Stop beating yourself up, period. Life is hard enough, you don't need the added pressure of being at war with yourself.

Be strong. Fuel your body.

Cover Image Credit: Women's Running

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Everything I Feared Came True — I'm Still Standing

And so from the outside looking in, someone may say that my life is utter chaos and in ruins. But so what if they're right? They don't define me. But even I say that my life is utter chaos and in ruins. But so what? God intended for this all to be good.

Ryan Fan
Ryan Fan
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This past year, almost everything I feared came true. I felt like, at times, I lost everything I cared about: reputation, friendships, and everything in between.

But by the grace of God, I'm still standing. And by that grace, I know it is for the greater good that I cannot yet see. This is a time in transition, but I know for certain that if I can keep standing in this cold season in my life, that God has made me more resilient and more tolerable of adverse circumstances than I ever imagined.

I have always had a deep fear of swimming in open water. When I was really young, I almost drowned, and to this day I have some slight fear going into the water at a beach or ocean. But then once I'm there and in the water, things are fine. I know that everything will be alright, and that's an awareness I didn't have when I was younger.

All my fears came true, but that was the best thing that could have happened to me. At times, that destroyed my anxiety. My pain and grief over losing almost everything I cared about was the best thing that could have happened to me, and although I couldn't see it at times, and sometimes I still can't see it, I know it's true now.

Pamela Cytrynbaum of Psychology Today echoes the point in an article that explores how grief can cure anxiety. The worst happened to Cytrynbaum when she lost her brother out of nowhere, and it wasn't even something she was anxious about. Instead, her anxieties were filled with germs, date rape, identity theft, Ebola, financial instability, and health. She tackled those anxieties through flu shots, insurance, seeing the doctor, and checking her credit rating.

How did this one get past my supersonic, hypervigilant anxiety radar? I thought I had played out every possible loss, every scenario, all of the potential wolves and Nazis at the door. Never saw this one coming.

She realized she didn't fear the right demons, "so certain I knew what to look out for," thinking she could outrun the wolves coming after her. But she couldn't see this one coming. "I know these are just thoughts and my life is full of profound blessings. But that's not how it feels," she says. "I got punk'd by my own brain. Big time." And for her afterward, nothing was scary anymore. "No loss seems impossible," and the loss of her brother was a sort of "pathological innoculation." Her profound suffering in grief taught her to prioritize what really mattered, and all those small fears didn't.

There is another popular adage I was reminded of recently: Murphy's Law, which states that "whatever can go wrong, will go wrong." And we scoff at Murphy's Law as something our overprotective parents or guardians tell us when there's any semblance of risk in our lives. I don't see any reason to abide by it and prepare for the worst possible outcome in any given situation or we won't take any risks (which is probably why, at 22, I don't think about insurance that much). But what happens when it actually applies, when whatever can go wrong does go wrong?

Well, it's important to note that when we say everything goes wrong, it means that everything goes wrong according to our plans. Sure, no one has close ones dying or unemployment or natural disasters anywhere near the top of their plans, but what we mean more by everything going wrong is just that circumstances turned out drastically unexpected.

It is only that kind of adversity, though, that reminds us of how lucky we are and how good we have it. Paul Hudson of Elite Daily writes that highly successful people "plan and then attack" in these circumstances because "moping isn't allowed." But my experience and my circumstances reminded me that sometimes, we just have to feel it or it's like a wound we don't treat, a wound that needs stitching that we don't stitch up. When life is a journey through hell and back, having a scar lets us thrive, but just pressing forward unsustainably with a severe, untreated wound does us no favors. Yes, we have to keep going, but we also need to take the time to stop, too.

Seeing our scars as sources of pride remind us that we are more resilient than we ever imagined, and our stories can inspire others to believe in themselves and do the same. I certainly know the heroes in my life are the ones who have navigated and traversed the most difficult of circumstances and come out on top.

When everything goes wrong, we're reminded how lucky we are to even be alive, even when being alive is an ugly thing to go through. "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on," Robert Frost once said. And those words are true and always will be while we mentally and emotionally wrestle with these questions. But Betty Draper of "Mad Men" offered succession and counterargument to that quote when she said, "I know people say life goes on, and it does, but no one tells you that's not a good thing."

Whether good or bad, though, there was a voice that told me, sometime in the peak of my struggle, that no one can decide whether our circumstances and life going on is good or bad. We decide. And God supersedes us and goes a step even further in the Genesis 50:20 rule: what man intended for evil, God intended for good.

"Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself," Robert Frost said. And so from the outside looking in, someone may say that my life is utter chaos and in ruins. But so what if they're right? They don't define me. But even I say that my life is utter chaos and in ruins. But so what? God intended for this all to be good.

Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for a while. I'm still standing, and everything will be alright.

Ryan Fan
Ryan Fan

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