Talking to My Former Self
This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences on their own path to recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, or symptom use. Please use your own discretion. And speak with your therapist when needed.
by Nicole, a former Emily Program client
“Man, if I only knew then what I know now.” How many of us have thought something along those lines admits a moment in our present lives? If we could, most of us would probably be delighted to go back in time and let our past selves in on some newly obtained wisdom.
Though I do my best to live without regret, if I had to go back in time and tell my high school self some encouraging words and helpful life hints, I would certainly have a thing or two to say.
Despite being only twenty-two years old, I have recently acquired an extensive amount of life-changing knowledge as well as developed a completely different, positive outlook on life. This drastic, healthy change in my mental & physical lifestyle of course could not be possible without my selfless parents, my former team at The Emily Program, and anyone who has helped me in any way along the way as I exited treatment for anorexia over four years ago. I cherish these individuals & resources vastly.
My old “self” is strikingly divergent from my current self. Back in high school, I was immensely and unhealthily consumed with what all other people thought of me and said to me. After years of growing up being bullied, I developed into a teenager and pushed, even more, to fit in. I did this because I wanted friends, guys to actually like me, and in hopes that my classmates would finally stop bullying me. As you can probably guess, that only lead to a life of desperately muting my—what others called “weird”—unique personality. And for what? To be liked by a bunch of meaningless carbon copies who didn’t take the time to get to know me.
Having now given you that blurb about who I was in high school, I would tell her, “Be weird. Be unique. Be whoever it is that your soul naturally consists of. At the end of the day, you are who you are. You were born with your own set of diverse qualities. Though most people around you animatedly try to convince you that you are ‘too weird’ or ‘too loud and obnoxious,’ go ahead. Be your weird, loud, exuberant self. What matters is that you are authentically yourself and you only strive, in a healthy and realistic way, to better yourself as a person.”
I would then continue to explain, “What I mean by that is stop altering how you dress, the hobbies, and the shows you like just because others bully you for it. It is better to have one friend who genuinely accepts & appreciates you for who you organically are than to exert effort into squeezing yourself into phony social groups. You are who you are and that is always going to shine through no matter how hard you to mute it. So stop trying to change the materialistic or your preferences. Take a look at your behaviors instead. For example, instead of switching your handbag to a brand that the ‘popular’ girls carry, vow to make an attempt to be more mindful in life. Or, instead of wearing those ridiculous six-inch heels to school in hopes of attempting to get guys to finally notice you, maybe practice gratitude and respect (yes, for yourself, too) instead. Focus on bettering your soul and your values. And do it for you!”