As you know, I'm pretty open about most things in my life that have shaped my entrepreneurial journey. I talk about my family, my relationship, my travels, my obsession with peanut butter and Zumba...you know, the important things.
But the truth is that, there's a very big, very painful part of my story that I've kept out of my business. I'm not sure why I've suppressed it so deeply - maybe for fear of judgement or being seen as that girl who shared a little too much. And hell, maybe you'll still judge me after reading this. But it's recently become clear to me that it's something that I need to bring to the forefront.
In our lives, we are constantly producing a delicate yet messy collection of experiences that bring us both joy and happiness. It's not something we can control. Both pieces of our stories most be accepted and honored, because this is the fabric that makes us who we are. Rejecting that is rejecting ourselves. So for the first time, I'm ready to share this with you.
From age 10, I always felt like the "fat friend". The truth is that I wasn't fat - I just had a different body type than most girls my age. I wore oversized sweatshirts in the middle of summer, I cried in the dressing room of every bathing suit store I went into, and I hid behind others in every photo that was taken. I was so ashamed to have been born into this body that I was felt was so rejected and different from those around me. I thought it prevented me from being beautiful, from being seen, from being loved. And in many ways, it dictated the choices I made throughout my teens, many of which were self-destructive.
So, when I was 20 and a sophomore in college, I decided to try this whole "weight loss thing". While at first I was skeptical that it was even possible, it quickly turned into a fun game for me. That fun game then turned into a habit, and that habit turned into an obsession that took over my life. Before I knew it, I was caught in an extremely dangerous eating disorder that almost killed me.
Within about three months, I lost 40 pounds. But it wasn't just my physical appearance that had changed - the chemical makeup of my brain had dramatically shifted. I had developed a small, angry voice in the back of my head that constantly screamed "you still have 10 more pounds to lose." What I was doing was never enough. I prioritized staying home to manically cut walnuts in half for my dinner instead of going out and seeing my friends. I stopped going to parties or doing anything fun because I was scared it would derail me from reaching my weight loss goal.
But when my mom came to me concerned, asking what my "weight loss goal" actually was, I said to her point blank: There was no goal. It was as small as I can get.
My health quickly deteriorated. I stopped getting my period. My hair started falling out. My skin became dull and lifeless. I had no energy. I was crying everyday. As I was doing everything I could to shrink my body, my soul also started fading. I was unrecognizable to my loved ones and even more so to myself. Yet I still couldn't stop.
It's so insane to think that I had chosen to lose weight so that I could be more accepted and loved by those around me, but in reality, it had only pushed me further away from them. I had wanted to lose weight so that I could feel more comfortable at parties, at dinners, on dates - instead, it kept me trapped in my apartment chewing on ice chips so avoid the risk of having to eat real food in public.
My mom eventually intervened and arranged that I start seeing an eating disorder specialist. This was the beginning of my recovery, and I only stopped going to therapy for my disorder about a year ago. And today, even though I am 99% better, that small, angry voice still creeps into my mind once and a while and tells me "You're still not good enough." It often comes back around spring time when it's "bathing suit season" again, which is why I chose to write about this now.
Looking back on those years of starving myself, hating myself, rejecting myself, I now realize what I was really trying to accomplish. Outwardly, yes, I was determined to shed every pound from my frail body and fit into what I thought was an "attractive woman". But now I understand that all I really wanted was to be seen for who I really was.
I didn't want people to see me as the fat friend. I didn't want people to judge me based on whatever they saw on the outside. I wanted people to see me for me. Someone who felt things very deeply. Someone who had something important to say. Someone who deserved loved and had plenty of love to give.
When I decided to launch my coaching business, I made the powerful decision to let people see me for who I really was without any fear of judgment. I couldn't grow as a thought leader or build my community without it. I had to fully accept that this is who I was, and that every life experience - good and bad - had given me the wisdom to make a difference and serve those around me.
I truly believe that the goal of every single millennial - whether you're a full time employee, a freelancer, or an entrepreneur - isn't to be wealthy or well-known or praised. It's too be seen for who you really are.
What we fear is fading away, getting left behind by those who love us, and leaving this earth without our voices being heard. But the problem is that - when we're trying so hard to be seen for who we really are - we're allowing other parts of our lives to derail us from that mission.
Like having an eating disorder.
Struggling in an unhealthy relationship.
Staying in a job you hate.
Hiding behind what's "comfortable" even if it's destroying us.
When we're so fearful of what others think or what they'll say about us, our voices cannot be heard. We cannot be seen for who we really are. We cannot honor our experiences. We cannot become leaders. Instead, we become slaves to others' expectations.
I'm telling you this story to inspire you to seek clarity in your journey. It's time to look at the choices you make and see if they truly align with what you're trying to accomplish, and even more importantly, if they align with self-love, self-care, and self-respect.
Are you staying at that full-time job (or doing anything else) because you're fearful of what will happen if you don't? Are you scared about what others will say? Are you worried that you'll be judged? Are you terrified of failure or embarrassment or the unknown?
What makes influencers the most wise and equipped to help others are the experiences - often very challenging ones - that we go through. They're the mistakes that we've made. The painful consequences we've endured. The backward steps we've taken. These stories deserve to be shared and to be learned from. My story is what allows me to serve fellow millennials like you.
If you have experienced (or are still experiencing) something challenging in your life, don't let it keep you from being seen. Accept it. Celebrate it. Share it. Your story deserves to be heard.