This past December, just like every other December, I was asked to sing at church for the Christmas service. I was so used to it that it had become like clockwork, so on that Sunday morning, I woke up early to start getting ready. After brushing my teeth, combing my hair, and applying mascara to my lashes, I put on a black dress I bought the year before, pulled up my pantyhose, slipped on some heels, and went out the door.
When I got to church, however, I suddenly had a rapid shift in the mental state. I went on stage to practice before service and attempted to sing, but words wouldn't come out. I couldn't even look up from the floor. I ran off stage and sat down, trying to be as calm as possible as I explained to my dad that I needed him to sing without me. He didn't understand why my mood seemed to change out of the blue, and I didn't know how to explain what I was feeling.
As I was standing up there, all I could think about was how my dress and pantyhose were much more snug on me than they were a year ago. I was thinking about how when I open my mouth, I get a double chin and how when I smile, my chubby cheeks are all I seem to notice. I was convinced that while the congregation watched me sing "O Come All Ye Faithful," they'd be thinking about how the girl they last saw in August had come back from college with more than just another semester under her belt--she brought back enough extra pounds to need to loosen the belt a whole loop.
It's the same reason I'd been avoiding wearing my cutest outfits, shopping for myself, planning fun events, and taking pictures with my friends. I couldn't tell my dad that. All anyone ever talks about is how they're losing weight or improving their lives. How could I tell him that the semester I just had kicked my butt and I was feeling lower than I had in a long time?
These thoughts caused me to remember something a sorority sister of mine posted on Facebook a few weeks ago. She explained that she had a rough six months and that she didn't have an inspirational story to tell about how she overcame it... at least, not yet anyway. She said she wanted to put it out there, plain and simple, because it was the truth, and it's okay to admit you're not always feeling on top of the world.
This made me ask myself: why do I only let myself enjoy my life when I am at my best? Aren't I just as much myself when I am barely surviving as I am when I'm thriving?
So what if I made a batch of cookies and ate them all in 48 hours? So what if my face broke out in a place where it never had before? So what if I don't get a call back from a job I applied for? So what if a boy I was crushing on liked someone else?
The reality is, that's life. There will be times when you lose weight like a champ, and there will be times when no matter how hard you try, you just can't seem to take off even a pound. There will be times when you get up early and have a productive morning, and there will be times when you accidentally sleep until noon and miss an important obligation. There will be times when you cross off everything on your to-do list, and there will be times when you have to cancel all of your appointments to allow yourself room to breathe. There will be times when you laugh with your friends for hours on end, and there will be times when just the thought of socializing causes you to burst into tears.
The thing to realize is, those so-called failures are just as much part of who you are as are all of your accomplishments. You don't have to hide parts of you and put other parts on display. You should be just as proud of yourself for getting out of bed on a day where you feel like leaving your house takes all of the strength you have as you are of yourself when you ace an exam or land a new job.
You don't need to only love yourself when the scale says a certain number or your skin is blemish-free or your eyebrows are perfectly plucked. None of these things should stop you from going out fearlessly into the world.
Maybe you're not always living your "best" life. But that should never stop you from living.