Saturday, June 11, 2011
A Reflection of My 30 Years on Earth
I thought this would be the perfect time to take a moment and look back. Look back at where I came from, what I've been through and to see how far I've indeed come.
Fifteen years ago, I was lost. Yes, I know a lot of people will say that they were lost during their teen years (hello, they don't call it teen angst for nothing!) but I fully stand by this statement. I was unhappy about who I was, both physically and emotionally. I would look in the mirror and literally cringe. I thought I was hideous. (Unfortunately this type of thinking stuck with me for a lot longer than it should have...) It was during my teen years that I developed my idea that because I was overweight, I was unworthy of so much in life.
I used to look at pictures of myself and cringe because I thought I was so ugly. Now I look at myself and cringe, but for an entirely different reason. I cringe because I feel sorry for that girl. A girl who was so obviously lost inside her own feelings of unworthiness.
Honestly, what I think I needed back then was a personal cheerleader. I needed someone to help me get out of my own head and point out the obvious to me.
Did I have friends? Yes, I had a lot of them. But did I have that person who would sit me down and say, "Maia, you are being stupid... You are beautiful. Inside and out." No... But honestly, I don't know if that kind of thing is possible in high school because everyone is working through their own insecurities. No one really had the time, nor self confidence to be able to say that to themselves, let alone anyone else.
I credit so much of my growth over the past 10 years (because the growing up finally started to happen around 19-20) to my good friends and most of my family. People started to get angry with me when I confided in them how I felt, because they didn't understand it and I didn't know how to explain it. To me, it was obvious. Plain as day. I knew to the very depth of my soul that I was unattractive. Now I look back and can see it plain as day that I wasn't unattractive, I was unhappy.
I was unhappy for such a long time. I took great strides to conceal my unhappiness. I put all of my energy into my career, and tried to make myself forget. I tried to convince myself that I didn't need to love myself, because I could at least love my job. Every once and a while some of my emotions would bubble to the surface. Usually I was alone, but occasionally other people saw it (usually aided by alcohol of course...) It was when my safety net of my career gave way, that I was finally faced with the ugly harsh reality of my self loathing. I reveled in it for about three months. Summer 2010 might as well be renamed "The Summer Maia Never Got Out of Bed."
It honestly was not until August 27, 2010 that I finally decided to take control of my own life and find my joy. I didn't do it for anyone else, I did it for me. I wish I could tell you what clicked in my head that night as I was trying to fall asleep. But somehow I just knew that the next day, sorry for the cliche, was the first day of the rest of my life. August 28th was a Saturday. I remember thinking to myself that it was weird to start my life over on a Saturday, and that I should wait until Sunday because it would be more symbolic. But I stopped myself. I knew that I didn't do anything to change on that Saturday, that I wouldn't do anything at all, so I did. I went for a walk.
It seems so simple now. Just a walk. A mere mile and a half around the Central Park Reservoir. I'm sure I was insanely slow, but I did it. I watched what I ate that day. I didn't count my calories, but I made a conscious effort to eat well. The next day, I did the same thing... At the beginning, I thought I didn't want to track my weight loss. I wanted this to be about getting healthier, both inside and out. That first weekend then turned into a full week of eating healthier and being active. I had already started to feel better. I broke down and realized that I should track my weight loss as a tool to measure my success but that I wouldn't base everything around it (I need reminding of that sometimes). My ultimate goal was to feel better and the weight coming off was merely a by-product of that.
That weekend I went out of town to visit a friend and I told her my plan, and I realized that was my other key... I needed to not keep this a secret as I had done with so much of my life in the past. I needed to tell the world! I wanted everyone to hold me accountable! I wanted everyone to hear my struggles and successes. The highs as well as the lows. And so I restarted this blog, and in doing so I started to read other people's blogs (I'm looking at you Skinny Emmie and Ben Davis...) I was inspired by these people going through the exact same thing I was going through. I realized I wasn't alone.
Slowly but surely through out the fall, I got better. I started counting calories, I started walking every day with an occasional burst of running due to a "Couch to 5K" I was attempting, I was doing everything right. The weight started dropping off of me. My blood pressure went back to normal. I could walk up a flight of stairs without being winded, and best of all? I could look in the mirror and say with all sincerity, "Maia, you look pretty today."
As my life started to fall into place physically and emotionally, the job situation got better as well. The universe had been trying to tell me for so long that my life was unbalanced. I was focusing on too much of one thing, while completely neglecting the other. It is this balance that I strive to maintain today.
Balance is the key to life, I've learned. Lead an unbalanced life? You lead an unhappy one... You can't put all of your energy into one aspect of yourself, you must find time to nourish them all.
Have I lost my way occasionally during the past 9 months? Sure I have, but I have managed to find my way back. I refuse to let the old Maia win. The Maia that won for 28 years. She puts up a good battle sometimes. But as I enter my 30th year, I must say that the Maia I've become over this past year is one of whom I am incredibly proud. She knows who she is now. She knows what she wants. She knows how to get it. She can look in the mirror and say with confidence, "You are pretty."
She is happy.
She has found her balance.