I remember that before going to college I kept hearing about the dreaded Freshman Fifteen. I vowed before going to school that I would not gain those pounds and I would maintain my weight. I was true to my vow and I never did gain those Freshman Fifteen while in school; however, I gained what I term the Terrible Twenty plus Five after school. For a long time I did not pay attention to the weight I was gaining because I felt like I still looked good; however, it got to a point where I was ashamed to show my stomach and would not wear a two-piece bathing suit if you paid me to wear it. I had a trip coming up to the beach, and I made up in my mind that I would get rid of the excess weight so that I could be comfortable with how I looked in the bathing suit. Don’t get me wrong, I was not extremely overweight. I just had a certain look I wanted to achieve. So began the grueling workouts–the crunches, the leg lifts, the total body workouts–and so began my discouragement. It seemed that the more I worked out the less I saw improvement. It is almost like my body decided to rebel against what I was trying to do. I began to look more critically at myself in the mirror, and I found what I saw lacking. In the meantime I had people telling me how good I looked, but I wasn’t satisfied. I turned to my husband one day in frustration after one of our workout sessions, and I told him that I did not see any difference. I told him that I felt as if I was wasting my time working out because I was not seeing any change. My husband turned to me and said, “It’s not going to happen overnight babe. Just keep working”. As frustrating as that was to hear it struck a chord in me, and it made sense. It took time for me to get to that weight, so it would take time for me to get rid of that same weight. This same principle applies in many areas of our lives. We want things to happen overnight–when we put in a little effort we expect that things will change automatically. What we do not realize is that most things will take time to change. If we stop focusing so much on wanting things to change instantly, we will be able to focus on the fact that we are pushing for change which adds value to our very existence. While patience is not something that some of us have naturally, it can be learned–sometimes we do not have a choice but to give in to patience. So, while this process is a little rough and I am still not at my desired look, I do see that this process is making me stronger in my follow through. I have been more dedicated and I have pressed harder in this than I have in many things in a long time. It is amazing what will come of the seemingly inconsequential things in life. In everything know that patience has its own reward. One day we will be able to see that which has not manifest itself at this present moment.
I recently acknowledged something about myself that I had previously refused to admit–somewhere along the road that I traveled daily I had lost my confidence. Looking at my life over the past year, I sought to pinpoint the exact moment in which my confidence had deserted me. Was it when people began to walk away? No, not then. Was it when I began to seclude myself from the crowd. No, not then. So when did my confidence fade away? I found that my confidence left when I lost faith and trust in myself. I had gotten to a point–due to past mistakes and situations–where I no longer believed in myself. I looked down on myself. No one had to put me down because I was the master of doing that to myself. I noticed that I was walking with my head down. I could not look anyone in the eyes because I was afraid that they would be able to read me and find me lacking. Things reached a climactic moment when I went to stand in front of people for a brief moment, and I almost had a panic attack. As I went back to my seat I was ashamed. How had I let things get away from me like that? Somewhere along the way I had surrendered to a self-degradation process. It all started with a mistake. Then came the self-incrimination. After that was the depression. With the depression came withdrawal. Then I became an actress–I smiled on the outside while cowering on the inside–though many could not see through the pasted on smile. It took me confronting all of the things that had brought me to that point for me to begin to resume even of resemblance of myself. Slowly, I began to trust in and have faith in myself again. I still had a hard time with some things, but everything was changing for the better. Then one day I looked up and realized that things were actually better and I was no longer acting when I smiled. When I chose to begin that process of confronting what had originally stripped me of my confidence, I began to walk in renewed confidence. I knew that I had hit the bottom, but I was ready to pull myself back to the top. Forgiven by God and others, I finally learned to forgive myself. In forgiving myself I learned again to trust myself, which allowed me to trust others. Then with confidence restored, I chose to keep moving forward. Too often we get stuck and we’re drowning, but it seems that no one realizes that we are on the brink of disaster. There are some instances when people may be there to help out, but it’s in those times when no one is around–or you can’t bring yourself to talk to anyone–that you have to decide for yourself to climb out of the hole or stay still and die in that place. Just because we have lost something does not mean that it can never be found again. We just need to put in the work to get it back. It is worth working for. What have you lost? Locate where you lost it and reclaim your possession.
It has been another long period of time in which I haven’t written, and I keep promising myself that I’ll do better, and I will because I said I will…but regardless of the length of time in which I haven’t written, one thing that has not changed is my desire to encourage and uplift–even when needing the same thing myself. What I have learned recently is that life is going to throw curveballs every time we turn around, and there are times when we feel like we want to give up or burrow into ourselves. Fortunately and unfortunately, we do not have the luxury of doing that simply because of all the people who look up to us. Today, especially, has been a day where I could have, with valid reasons, given up and decided to hide within myself, but I had to realize that what I do affects more than just me. So as I sat contemplating just how I was going to give up, and you’re probably laughing because you’ve planned it out before as well, something within me kept repeating: “No matter what you can’t give up! You have to keep smiling! You have to keep moving!” No matter how much I wanted to ignore that and still turn away, I realized that today is temporary, and my tomorrow depends on my choices of today. If I chose today to give up and throw in the proverbial towel, then my tomorrow would be a reflection of that–dark, dismal, without light or optimism. I refuse to allow that to be my future, so in order to dispel that darkness light has to dispel the darkness. That is why I choose to smile. That is why I take it. With all that happens in our lives we have to realize that life is bigger than just us. There will not be put more on us than we can bear–and we need to focus on not putting more on ourselves than we can bear. When we feel like there is nowhere else to turn, no one to turn to, and nothing else we can do to make things better, that is when we smile in the face of it and continue to take it. We cannot allow ourselves to get so bogged down that it interrupts our lives. If we look back at all the times when we have been in low places before, we see that somehow we got through it and were able to breathe again. Somehow we moved past that place and recreated order in our lives. What we do not realize is that how we respond in these situations is directly related to the fluidity of our lives. If we respond negatively, then it will become a normalized notion in our lives that everything is negative. If we respond optimistically, then we will have a more positive outlook and opportunities will present themselves to assist us in our attempts to live full and happy lives. When things come up, smile and take it! Looking in the face of an obstacle, smile and take it! When you see no way out, smile and take it! When it seems that there is no one to talk to, smile and take it! We are so much stronger than we give ourselves credit for–so walk in that strength and be all that you know you can be. Smile. Take it.