For as long as I can remember, I have been cursed with the desire to be thin.

I, like too many other people in the world, decided my beauty was dependent on my weight. Even though I felt this way, I never did anything about it. I never went on a diet. I never made a habit of going to the gym. I just let myself be sad about my weight all the time and built up a terrible body image. Then, my senior year of high school happened.

I have always struggled with anxiety issues, but my senior year of high school everything got worse. I was having panic attacks every day and felt more depressed than ever, so of course, eating felt completely unnecessary. I didn't stop eating on purpose, it just kind of happened as a result of my poor mental health. While it wasn't the desire to be thin that drove my eating disorder, I certainly was not upset when I stepped up on the scale at the doctor's office and weighed less than I did for most of middle school. Even though I had lost a good amount of weight, I still thought I was pretty chubby. That's just how it is when you have a distorted body image and don't realize it.

When college started in the fall, I was the happiest I had ever been. My anxiety was under control, I had a great summer, and I was ready for a new chapter in life. I got so busy being happy and distracted that my eating disorder just went away. Poof, gone, just like that. While life did its thing, I ate more, I ate worse, and I exercised a lot less. Worst of all was the dining hall, fully equipped with a dessert table and a soft serve machine. After all of that, I was somehow still surprised when my pants got tighter and eventually didn't fit at all.

Of course, I went through a "mourning period" and cried when I tried to squeeze into a pair of jean shorts on a warm day, but after that, it was like a switch flipped in my brain. After looking back at all the pictures I had taken over summer, I had a big realization that I had been thin. My whole family told me how skinny I was that summer, but I never really believed them. Looking back, 30 pounds heavier, I gained some serious insight on how messed up my body image was.

If I had been thin, what I always wanted, and didn't even realize it, I knew my brain was lying to me about plenty of other things.

After that, I gained some real gratitude for my body and for myself in general. Now, when I look at myself in the mirror, I am not a judge, but an appreciator. My need to be skinny has vanished and the only thing I want now is to feel good about myself, and I do.

I am aware now more than ever that my beauty is not defined by my weight.

Through all this, the best thing I gained is being able to talk about my body and my weight without shame. I am technically overweight now and I have plenty of fat on my body. Yes, you read that correctly. Fat! It is not a bad word, so stop treating it like that. I still have a goal to lose weight, but this goal is pushed by a desire to be healthy and to feel good. This goal is not all about the numbers, but about how I feel. I want to go to the gym and eat healthily, and this time it has NOTHING to do with getting a flat stomach or the perfect booty.

The point is, gaining weight in college wasn't the healthiest thing I've ever done, but it has led me to understand what actually matters. If you feel good and you are healthy, it doesn't matter if you are a size 2, a size 10, or anything in between. I know that getting here is a lot easier said than done — it took me almost 19 years to build a positive body image.

I know this article won't solve all of your problems, but I do hope it gives you a little inspiration on your journey to true happiness.