Retaking My First Steps

Retaking My First Steps

Sometimes first steps do not involve walking across the floor.
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The sickly smell of antiseptic overwhelms the air. My body is still weak from the heavy sedation and constant influx of pain medications. I am so weak, I can hardly feel my legs. The only thought running through my mind is that I’ll never regain enough strength to ever walk, dance, frolic, or even stand again. There could be nothing so stomach-wrenching, so painful, so infuriating, as lying in this hospital bed with the sensations of tiny needles prodding into my torso and the nauseating scent of vomit, plastic, and agony that every hospital emits.

Just then, the outline of a white-coated figure through bright fluorescent lights finds its way into my line of bleary sight, another piece of my body that isn’t performing as optimally as it once did. As the white figure comes closer, I remember why the shape of this body in particular is so painstakingly familiar to me. The figure and I have spent many countless hours in doctor’s offices, examining x-rays, discussing treatment plans and how they will affect my future. The friendly face of my wide-eyed and bushy-tailed surgeon – who, regardless of nine hours in surgery, looks young and crisp while I lie there, resembling something close to death warmed over with mucus outlining my nostrils and bags underlining my eyes – peers down at me. I expect comforting words such as, ‘you did so well,’ or ‘everything turned out just beautifully.’ Anything would have been music to my ears in comparison to the foul words that escaped his lips.

“Are you ready to walk?”

I laugh meekly, and suddenly his usually cheerful, jubilant demeanor has transformed into one of pure seriousness. Surely he had to be joking. I just had two titanium rods fused onto my crooked spine! How could I even learn to stand barely twenty-four hours later, let alone walk?

He smiles as he reaches out his arms, and I reluctantly grab ahold to help myself up, all the while glancing at my mother on the other side of me, hoisting me off the bed with great vigor. Blood rushes to my head as I rise as if I were a newborn giraffe learning how to walk. My legs feel like foreign appendages, jellylike and uncooperative. I make it two microscopic steps, each of which feels like two miles, before I feel my legs buckle, and I practically collapse onto the hospital bed nearby. I receive congratulatory looks of pride from my doctor and my parents in the room with me, looks that say I’ve accomplished so much more than two mere baby steps that day. With those encouraging faces staring back at me, I realize that I am more than capable of regaining my strength, and every day I will take more and more baby steps, determined to reach my goal.

Those first few steps after my scoliosis surgery were like the first steps of my impending adulthood. The cold, tiled hallway of Roanoke Memorial Hospital was my own pathway to maturity. I do not think that had my parents not decided to go through with the surgery that I would be the person I am today. Before, I was a child, only a two year veteran of middle school, meek, self-doubting, and entirely unaware of all that I would accomplish in my high school years to come. Today, I consider myself an eager, confident young person, fully capable of anything I wish to accomplish. I am not yet an adult, for I still have much to learn. The strong impact my surgery had on my life is what I believe prepared me to take those further strides into adulthood.

Cover Image Credit: newsjunkiepost.com

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65 Truths College Students Need to Hear Right Now

Truth every college student needs to hear.
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1. The best memories are ones you actually can remember.

2. God isn’t going to ask you if you were in a top-tier sorority or fraternity at the gates.

3. You failed a test, not your life.

4. Numbers don’t define you.

5. That includes the number you see that is your grade.

6. Also, how much you weigh.

7. As well as if you are a “7/10” on a so-called “hot scale.”

8. Or if you can bench press 200 lbs. (@ all the guys at the gym, please chill.)

SEE ALSO: 7 Reminders Every College Student Needs To Hear Before The Semester Ends

9. Innocence is nothing to be ashamed of.

10. Neither are mistakes.

11. But learn from your mistakes. Mistakes can be lessons, which can be the biggest blessing.

12. Your metabolism isn’t what it used to be and that is okay.

13. You may not always understand what God is doing, but I promise He has a plan.

14. Every person you meet is battling their own struggles.

15. Life isn’t always great moments.

16. But you have to walk through the forest to get to the mountain top.

17. Your heart isn’t damaged. It is temporarily broken but it will be fixed.

18. However, the only one who can fix a broken heart is the one who created it.

19. So a cute boy or hot girl can’t put the pieces back together.

20. Neither can ice cream.

21. But ice cream can totally help.

22. Stop texting your ex. He/She is your ex for a reason.

23. Loving Jesus means loving people.

24. Loving Jesus also means loving the image of Him in the mirror you see.

25. Stop hiding your emotions. Stop crying in the bathroom or behind a locked door. You have people in your life who care about you.

26. Suicide is never the answer.

27. Breathe in, breathe out.

28. Do you feel your heart pump? Do you feel the air exiting your body? That is a sign you are here for a purpose. Your life is no mistake.

29. Just because you doubt, doesn’t mean you don’t believe in Jesus.

30. However, when walking on the water scares you, look to Jesus and keep your eyes on Him.

31. If you have the opportunity to go to school go. There are young girls around the world who would do anything to sit at the desk you are complaining about.

32. Don’t pick a career based on money.

33. However, I promise you can use any passion or gift to serve a purpose bigger than yourself if you allow yourself to give it to the One who gave it to you.

34. You don’t need pretty prayers to please God.

35. Talk to Him like you are talking to a friend.

36. Look for the good in everyone.

37. That includes the mean girl who no one likes. Chances are she is mean for a reason. Someone was once mean to her. Kill her with kindness.

38. Pray to have the Lord’s eyes. See people with love.

39. Try to have the Lord’s hands, always be reaching out to others.

40. Each morning, pray to have the Lord’s feet and go where He calls you.

41. It is a bad day, not a bad life.

SEE ALSO: What It's Like To Be A College Student In April

42. You don’t need a six-pack to find a man who loves you.

43. You need a spouse who will be able to look at you when you are 80, and wrinkly and maybe a little chunky, and you need him to love you then. If he loves you for your body and your hair, I promise he doesn’t actually love you. Looks fade, but love is eternal. Find someone who loves you like Jesus.

44. Do some squats.

45. But squat so you feel good about yourself, not to attract the opposite sex.

46. You are never too old to find a new hobby.

47. You were beautiful before someone told you.

48. If you don’t know if you are in relationship or not, leave. You deserve clarity, not insecurity.

49. You deserve friendships that are mutual.

50. The best Friday nights are spent with a puppy and food. It is okay to not always be social.

51. Stop worrying about whether your crush will text you back.

52. Stop over analyzing everything in general.

53. Pray for your future spouse.

54. However, also pray for your future bridesmaids/groomsmen. Some of the most influential people you may have in your life you may not have even met yet.

55. Storms bring strength.

56. And storms bring rainbows if you are patient and observant.

57. Stop Pinteresting your dream life and start living it.

58. The Bible is actually extremely relatable. Open it up. Read it.

59. Romans 8:28 “and we know God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” God is on your team. He wants you to have moments of celebration. He has a purpose for you greater than your bad day.

60. Never forget what Jesus did for you on that cross. When he died for you, it was painful and brutal. It was ugly. It was love. Don’t let that truth ever become numb to you no matter how many times you have heard the story.

61. There is nothing wrong with carbs.

62. Study. And don’t wait for the night before.

63. Find someone who you can look up to.

64. Also, never forget that there is always someone looking up to you. Act like someone you would want your future children to be. Act in a way that reflects wisdom.

65. Smile more, you are loved by the one who hung the stars and painted the sea. He created puppies and carbs–yet still loves you more. That is something to celebrate.

College is tough and life is hard. You are going to have moments where all you want to do is celebrate life with your best friends, but you will also have moments where you just want to lock the door, ignore everyone, and have a good cry. Never forget that your worth comes from something greater than your Biology grade, and from Someone greater that the one who broke your heart.

You aren’t too cool for Christ in college. Christ is a necessity for you in your life. He can hold your hand during your heartbreaks and failures and celebrate with you when you get the text back or a passing grade in foreign language. He loves for you and cares for you more than your sorority or fraternity ever will.

So buy your books, do your homework, but never forget when you are walking to you 8:00 a.m. you regretfully signed up for, to look up. Look at the clouds and the sky and thank your creator that in a big big world with many beautiful things, He still loves our messy hearts even more. So this one is for the boys for the King. This life is for the One who laid down His life.

I promise college is more fun when you dance with your Savior. Follow His lead and let him take you on a journey where you can find your purpose. You may not know where you are going, but you do know who you are following.

So never forget that although classes may be hard, and your metabolism may be slowing down–God is still good. He turns our ashes into beauty and our trials into our testimony. Do life with your creator and I promise you that you will have more than you need.

Romans 8:28 “And we know God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Check out my website for more articles on self-worth <3

Twitter: gracev96

Instagram: lemmebeyourvalentine

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From Sick To Strong, My Eating Disorder Recovery

A journey from eating disorders to health and a passion for fitness.

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I would say I was about 13 when it started. Every young girl is influenced by the portrayal of thin, tall, beautiful women that is perpetuated in our media. I was mildly overweight, but not to the extent of being unhealthy; however, I couldn't stand myself. I saw an unattractive young girl that needed to change. I played around a little with fad diets: low carb, no sugar, don't eat after 6, etc, but would have little success and fall back into my old ways. I can't say I ever had a traumatic experience or horrible event that drove me to eating disorders, my own mind essentially just brought me there. I decided to experiment with severe undereating, overexercising, and mental manipulation.

People started to notice I was losing weight and would compliment me on it; what 8th grader doesn't want to hear she looks pretty? I was constantly tired, irritable, and sick, but I was losing weight and that's all I cared about. I started to notice I wasn't having periods but didn't feel the need to seek medical attention over it. It was around May 2014 that I chose to finally talk to my mom about it. At that point, I hadn't had a period in 6 months, and I was a frail 107 pounds at 5'5". I went to my family physician that summer and didn't fully tell the truth in fear that I would be sent to a mental health clinic or some other inpatient facility. As a result, I wasn't officially diagnosed with an eating disorder; I was told I simply had some unhealthy tendencies and should strive to change them.

I did change them. I knew what I was doing wasn't healthy, and I wanted to fix it before starting high school. I began to eat more, exercise a little less, and get my body functioning properly again. It lasted for quite a while, and I was at the healthiest I had been my sophomore and junior year. That began to change though, in the middle of my junior year.

I was taking eight classes, and my stress was through the roof. I was still at a healthy weight, but something in me desired control. If I can't control my stress about classes, then how about controlling my body? I began to throw up after eating. I wasn't a textbook bulimic; I didn't binge on copious amounts of junk food and then throw it up. I would throw up after a normal meal if I had any question in my mind it could have been unhealthy. I would throw up after having a small cookie or a little bit of ice cream. Whenever I would go out to eat, I would always take note of where the bathroom was in case I felt the need to purge afterward. I got to the point where I was purging nearly every day. I didn't lose much weight, maybe five pounds, but I felt as if I could control my body in a way that others couldn't. In fact, as I look back, I actually got a little heavier after starting to purge because my body was constantly confused, unable to absorb nutrients, and bloated. This continued through my senior year, and after being medically disqualified by the Navy for ROTC because of previous eating disorder behavior, I finally decided enough was enough.

I talked to my best friend first. She wasn't necessarily surprised and had her suspicions about it, but she wanted to help me and be supportive. I also talked with my boyfriend, who wanted to help me get healthy and keep me accountable when I felt triggered. I talked with God, asking for strength to overcome it and the wisdom to treat my body as a temple; as I am called to do. Chronologically, this occurred at the beginning of the summer of 2018, right before my freshman year of college. I did well for the majority of the summer, but the stress of leaving my parents, friends, and beginning a long-distance relationship at two separate colleges would occasionally cause me to fall back into old habits. However, I kept pushing. Striving. Working. I wanted to be my healthiest self and be able to help others that are in the same situation.

Recovery isn't about perfection. It's about honesty. I still occasionally have the thoughts, urges, or triggers, but when I do, I tell my closest people about it and don't keep it in the dark. Meeting with an on-campus psychiatrist and beginning medication for anti-anxiety helped tremendously. The main point is, talking is the first step. I struggled with EDs for so long because I kept it in the dark. It was my dirty little secret that I kept tucked away and hidden from those who wanted nothing but to love me and receive honesty from me. At this point, I have a much healthier relationship with food, I am passionate about lifting, and I am passionate about remaining honest and free of the dark secret. My recovery isn't perfect, and nobody is. It's about taking the first step and bringing the dark to light.

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