The number one question I've received since arriving back on campus has by far been along the lines of, "How was your winter break?"
In short, not that great.
Don't get me wrong, it was great to see my family again and I'll never be one to be angry about Christmas presents. My main issues came from the fact I had to get seven wisdom teeth pulled the third day of being home (no, not an exaggeration, I swear.) Worse than that, the pain from the teeth wasn't the worst part of my break, it was the realizations I had following it that turned my vacation on its head.
For those of you who've never had oral surgery, you're a lucky son of a gun. Of my seven teeth, three were impacted, leading to a hammer and chisel being the main tools of extraction. How do I know this? Oh, because I was awake. Yes, since I'd never been on anesthesia before, my oral surgeon didn't want me to fall into a coma by putting me under, therefore I was in a foggy phase in which I still remember every excruciating minute of the process.
Now, my healing process was actually very impressive. I didn't have any dry sockets and everything was pretty much back to normal in under a week. The only thing that remained were my chipmunk cheeks. My cheeks had been stretched and prodded for a very long period of time, causing intense swelling that didn't go down for over a week and half.
This was my Hell.
Every time I looked in the mirror, I saw a fat child staring back at me. In the back of my head my voice of reason was convincing me that in time I would go back to normal, but in the moment, all I wanted to do was cry.
When I was younger, I always felt like that ugly fat girl. I was never that overweight or struggled with health issues in any way, I just lived in a town where you'd swear every girl there worked as a part time model. I was extremely self conscious even though I tried my damnedest to be a healthy weight for a girl my age.
One year, I reached my lowest point. Even though I passionately threw myself into a diverse range of sports and I exercised daily, I never saw a change in my pubescent mirror. So, I changed my diet...drastically. First, I tried my hand at pescatarianism (it's basically being a vegetarian but while also having fish.) Although I felt active and great from that lifestyle change, no progress when I looked in the mirror. So I instead switched to stealing diet pills from my mom's cabinet that she never used. I'd obsess over what pills had what effect, and how many I could sneak to the dinner table and have in a day. These obsessive tendencies grew like a monster in my brain until I gave up even trying to keep food down. Then started my year with the "b" word: bulimia.
I'm not going into details there, but it's a secret I've held close for quite some time. It wasn't until someone extremely close to me ended up in the hospital due to an eating disorder that I could snap out of it. I gave up the insane dieting and focused on just trying to feel good about myself and be healthy enough to play soccer.
My junior and senior years in high school I finally saw the changes I'd wanted as a little girl. It was easier for me to work out and see results. Every day as soon as the bell rang at 3 in the afternoon, I'd zip my car over to the gym and go through intense cardio, leg work, arm work, etc. I never starved myself but I didn't overindulge either. I was happy with the person I saw in the mirror for once.
So why was I so wrecked two weeks ago?
Deep down, I know I'm shallow. I love acting confident and speaking what's on my mind, and I have no issues being proud of how I look now. But the image I now have stuck in my brain of what I could look like just by gaining that "Freshman 15" terrifies me to my core.
I'm well aware that many of my close friends have never read a single word I've written on here, nor ever plan to, and maybe that's why I'm so ok with venting on such a public channel. Still, it was horrifying for me to realize how ingrained my insecurity is and how a flash of what my future could look like can shake me to my core. Will I ever grow out of that shallowness? Who knows. For now, I just have a lot still to think about.