Lanky. Twig, Too skinny. Nothing but bones.

If you've ever grown up as the "tall and super skinny" kid in your family, you've probably heard these words and a plethora of others on more than one occasion. Growing up, although thin, it didn't exactly make me feel great about myself to constantly hear how abnormally thin I was, at least to other people. And, no, I did not starve myself to get people to like me. That's another dig that I heard as well.

Hearing so much about my weight made me obsess over it, and I still do to this day. When I was a junior in high school, I got my first job at a gym daycare. Since my job includes free membership, I started working out with my boyfriend and his family. No longer did I want to be lanky and a stick — I wanted to be toned and gain muscle mass. I began lifting weights, pushing myself to new heights with each and every visit to the gym.

Fast forward to present day, I've been going down my fitness journey for over a year, and the tables have turned.

No longer am I skin and bones, but I now have muscle where I didn't before. My arms have gained more "meat" on them, and my legs are a lot stronger than they used to be. Yes, I have gained more muscle, but that also means the number on the scale has increased. As someone who cares very deeply about my weight, this has been an uphill battle for me.

I realize muscle weighs more than fat, but I'd be lying if I said gaining over 30 pounds since the start of my first semester in college didn't bother me. What I see versus what others see doesn't add up, and I'm struggling to see the positive side of my weight gain. On top of that, my frame and build are no longer that of a high school teenager. Now, I fill out areas of my body that were once hollow. Needless to say, college and my self-perception have a love/hate relationship right now.

Although it's a struggle, I try to look at things optimistically. If you don't like something, you can always change it — but, make sure you do so in a healthy way. This is easier said than done for me, but doing more cardio and not restricting myself to the extremes has proven to make me feel good, mentally and physically. And, that is the whole point — focusing on what makes you feel good, not just on your appearance.

So, to the college guy or gal who is struggling with their body image, like me, stay strong. Focus on what makes you feel good, point out only the things you love in that mirror, and talk it out with someone. The road to self-love is a long one, but I know we can make strides toward it.