#Relationshipgoals

 

If you’ve read my blog for a while you might remember when I first moved to Sydney and took myself out on a solo date for the first time. It’s one thing to eat alone at a quick cafe or food court style restaurant but going out to a proper restaurant with white table cloths and a fancy menu- that’s different.

I promised myself- no matter how long I’m with my boyfriend or married in the future, even when I have a big family of my own- I vow to take myself out to a nice meal on my own at least once a year.

26 flew by and I realized I didn’t keep this promise with myself. But then the Universe stepped in. On the last day of my 26th year and the first one of my 27th, I unintentionally took myself out for a nice brunch. I planned on having a Fluro Friday event here in Auckland but the weather didn’t cooperate. It was pouring rain and I had the cutest Uber driver from India who was a part of an organization called Know Thyself which holds meditation retreats all over the world. We chatted about meditation, eating healthy and how more people need to be connected to the way they are feeling. We had a great chat so I didn’t realize what the weather forecast was until I had already took said (expensive) Uber to the other side of town.

I knew that people probably wouldn’t show but I decided to grab a coffee at the cafe right by the beach and wait for the rain to pass. I walked up in my crazy Fluro get up- flower crown and all. At first I felt a surge of sadness and disappointment. I knew in Australia my One Wave Bondi tribe would have been there rain or shine. I missed my brunch besties, my family and my friends from home all at the same time. But in a split second I reminded myself of my gratitude journal. Five things, Susie. I ordered my coffee and pulled my journal out of my bag and the five things came rushing out so easily.

I smiled because this 27 year old woman wasn’t scared to sit at a posh brunch spot alone in an 80’s bomber jacket and flower crown with tons of business men in suits. Sure, I was disappointed by the rain but we rescheduled for next week and it allowed me to keep my pact of a solo date each year.

I felt deeply grateful for the courage, self worth and confidence I have developed over the years but especially in the past few years. I can’t put into words how important it is to be able to truly and deeply love your own company- just as much as  your closest relationships with others. Much like a close friendship or family bond– it doesn’t matter how long you’ve strayed away from the loving relationship with yourself, when you return to it, it feels easy, you pick up just where you left off and your heart instantly swells with love and joy.

As I sit here at this brunch place, I’m still here and writing this on notebook paper since I didn’t bring my laptop. The sun is now shining- of course. But that means I get to do my meditation on the beach and go for a nice long walk along the ocean. After I write this, of course.  This is also like returning to an old friend. A comfortable, familiar feeling. Time and time again– I am floored by the power of words in my life and the immense sense of rightness I feel as soon as I’m creating words of my own or reading the words of others.

I won’t sugar coat it, the last couple months in New Zealand have been the most difficult of my life, probably since Corey died in 2006. But life has a funny way of contradicting itself because these struggles have led me to a more gratitude, more self actualization and most importantly more clarity on just how strong of a human I can be.

After brunch I popped in my headphones because I got an email that my favorite podcast, The Melissa Ambrosini Show, released a new episode about relationship goals. As I started listening to this awesome couple talk about love and relationships, I laughed to myself because right now I am #relationshipgoals with my own damn self.

Don’t get me wrong I’m in an incredible relationship with I am so in love with my funny, charming, English gentlman-but luckily that doesn’t exclude having a kickass relationship with myself too.

Starting my 27th year, I am committed to keeping my #relationshipgoals with myself thriving. I implore you to do the same. Loving yourself is not about posting pictures in your undies on social media #selflove. Dude, if you can do that and you feel great doing it, more power to you-but much like beautiful couple photos don’t define what love is actually about, self love is so much deeper than being confident and proud of your body. Let your relationship with yourself evolve and change, give yourself the grace, patience and encouragement you give others and most of all- keep those promises you make to yourself- You’re going going to write that book, start that degree, say that thing, plan that trip, and take yourself on that date. I guarantee you won’t regret it. Now that’s what I call #relationshipgoals.

 

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But I don’t have time for that…A lesson on Gratitude

It’s easy to get caught up in life being too busy. Since going back to working full time for someone else here in New Zealand- something I haven’t done in a couple years my life has exploded with things I “have to do”. I am working with a very specific end goal in mind- my 10 week trip with my boyfriend all across America and Europe, showing each other our home countries and meeting each other’s families. This trip is so important to us and since the unexpected move to New Zealand came things haven’t gone as expected for us. But we are both willing to sacrifice now to make that trip everything we dreamed it would be.

 It’s easy when we are busy working, running a side hustle, cooking, cleaning, being there for our family and friends and trying to be somewhat social to forget about things that light us up. But just because you don’t have tons of free time doesn’t mean you can’t use the time you do have wisely.

“Oh, I’m so busy right now.” I don’t have time to go for a hike, go to yoga class, write a blog post, or meditate. Hold up. Those are actually my favorite things to do. What is the point of living if you don’t save time for your favorite things? That may mean you have to give up other time fillers that simply don’t light you up as much such as watching tv,  drinking every night of the weekend or attending social events simply because you “have to”.

Make a list of the things that you love to do. With the free time you do have, no matter if it’s 20 or 30 minutes this week, you still have some time for you. Realistically, almost all of us have that time daily.  Figure out how you can schedule in those magical moments. Use it as a reward for completing your work week or simply a celebration of life. There is nothing wrong with taking time out to fill yourself up. Mental health wise- it’s required and I find it’s our duty to ourselves to do the things we know make us the brightest version of us.

If you are traveling, short- term or long term this goes for your travels as well. Don’t feel as if you need to jam pack your days with all the tourist attractions and instafamous locations in that area. Do what you LOVE to do on vacation. If that’s laying by the pool, go for it. If it’s finding the best cup of coffee, scoping out every art museum or hiking to the tallest mountain- do it! Don’t feel pressured to do things you don’t want to do just because that’s what other people do in that country or destination.

Right now, I have to save all of my pennies. I’m working 6 and usually 7 days a week with my own business and my full-time job. But there is still some time for adventure. Definitely not as much as I like, but I find that when I stop focusing on everything I have to do, just make a list of the things I have to do and a list of the things that I want to do. I make sure that I cross off from both lists. This Sunday, that meant waking up, working for an hour, working out, going for a mini adventure that was right near the local grocery store we shop in New Zealand. It was a quick little nature trail that ended with quite an impressive waterfall. It probably took an hour and a half or two hours of our Sunday and then we went on to grocery shop, meal prep, clean and work a bit more.

During that time in nature, I cleared my head and I spent quality time with my favorite person. I got my body moving. We talked about gratitude and how much we had to be grateful for despite the fact that life hadn’t been happening as we expected. Earlier that morning I was crying, feeling anxious, overworked, stressed and I took the time out of my day to do the things that fill me up, and what do you know? I felt better. Something is better than nothing. I would like to be immersed  in nature, deep in the mountains hiking or frolicking at the beach for my entire weekend (well, really my entire life) but if that’s not in the cards, well, it’s time to find little ways to find that calm, joy and gratitude.

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This isn’t the longest blog post or the most in depth and inspiring. But I showed up. Because sometimes that’s all that life is about. Showing up when life is wonderful is easy but showing up when life is less than ideal, that’s the hard part. That’s what sets you apart as someone who lets life happen to them or someone who creates their own reality. I refuse to take a back seat. And when things aren’t going my way, instead of fighting it, I’m working on embracing it, controlling what I can control and accepting that if I can see it or not there is a purpose for this part of my journey.

Make a to-do list of your responsibilities but don’t forget to make a to-do list of the things that bring you joy. Something is better than nothing. Fill up your cup a little bit at a time and focus on being grateful for the beauty. Interrupt that anxiety and stress with gratitude, not just once in awhile. Daily. Don’t just think, “oh yeah, that’s a nice idea.” Put it into action.

This Sunday I’m grateful for:

  1. Finishing 8 weeks of my workout program today feeling super bendy & strong
  2. Casual pit stops at waterfalls before grocery shopping-NZ life
  3. My bf delivering me an awesome lunch from a cafe down the road & meal prepping for us for the week
  4. Booking another flight for our summer adventure solely with my coaching income
  5. Ended the night by seeing a shooting star!

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Focus on gratitude and the feeling grows and spreads. Focus on your worries and they’ll be the one to grow. What five things are you grateful for?  How will you fill up your cup this week so that your tank feels full? I write this because I needed this reminder so bad this week and with the support of my lover, a large dose of gratitude and nature time yesterday, I transformed my mindset. You can do it, too.

What happens when you unexpectedly have to change your entire life?

 

28 days…My boyfriend and I walked out of the hearing room and looked at each other with half relief, half sadness, and a tiny bit of sparkle in our eyes. After a series of unfortunate events and being deceived by his previous employer we knew that his 457 sponsorship visa to stay in Australia was not going to go through. We applied in April of 2016 so basically half of our relationship we have been waiting for the outcome of this visa. We prepared ourselves for them saying we had to leave but actually knowing you have 28 days to leave the entire little life you built together behind is quite terrifying once you receive the email of doom.

Instead of dwelling on the logistics, like the apartment we need to sublet, the furniture we need to sell, jobs we have to resign from, accounts we have to close, flights we need to book, (OMG, my to do list is endless right now) I’m taking a different approach this time. Usually, I would freak out- cry, let my anxiety get all out of whack and take control, be a moody brat to my boyfriend, feel sorry for myself, but this time, I decided to take control. Here is my video announcement of the news.

After announcing our news and getting an outpouring of love and support I couldn’t help but feel grateful. Many people were impressed with how positive I was being. People even expressed confusion by my positivity. How? How can you stay so positive?

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Bah, Humbug: How to Cope with Holidays Abroad

This is the part they don’t talk about. Quit your job, travel the world, you will have the best adventures, change your life and find yourself. But what about the hard stuff? Moving across the world can’t always be easy… Missing weddings, holidays, birthdays, and all of the silly days in between is not easy. Sure, you are the one who chose to leave but that doesn’t mean you don’t miss the people who you left behind. It doesn’t mean that half the stories out of your mouth aren’t about your family, this one time in college or the adorable photos you just got of your niece in the Nutcracker. The travel blogs and instagrams you idolize may not show photos of them tearing up in the middle of the street because they just want to go home. Or the feeling when all of your family is together and you are sick in bed. As usual, I am committed to being raw and sharing all parts of my adventures with you, so here is the truth behind never being home for the holidays.

Moving abroad to Thailand and Australia and being able to teach and adventure in both places have been the most rewarding experiences of my life but that is not to say they haven’t had their fair share of lonely moments as well. Yes, you will feel homesick. Yes, you will get sick of being the face on the Facetime screen, so close and yet so far from being involved in all the memories happening at home without you. The holidays make it especially difficult so I wanted to send some encouragement to my fellow expats, travelers, or anyone who can’t make it where they consider “home” this holiday season. This is the most wonderful time of the year, but like all good things, that puts a hell of a lot of pressure on you to feel merry and bright. Here is how I survive the holidays:

Bring traditions with you– If you are far away from home, find a way to decorate and spread a little Christmas or Hanukkah cheer. Watch your favorite Christmas movies, bake your Grandma’s famous recipe and make sure to share it with the people you’ve met or love abroad. Sharing our traditions with others makes them special for a whole new set of people. Luckily, I am a teacher so I always get free reign to teach my students all about American culture and holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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Dear Sydney…

Dear Sydney,

The past week has been overflowing with more reflection than usual for me. If I gave you an hour inside of my brain I assume you would be quite exhausted and possibly terrified. I am celebrating a year of living here in Sydney. I moved to Australia at the end of July 2015 but I went backpacking for two months up the East coast and I landed in Sydney at the end of September 2015, for what I thought was a few weeks. When I moved to Australia it was my intention to live in Melbourne. My teacher besties I met in Thailand moved there and when I visited the fall before I fell in love. I came to Australia not knowing exactly where I would end up, but I had an open mind and an open heart. After a few weeks in the hostel I was running out of money, so I knew it was time to get another job. My job search began and I made the Library of New South Wales my go-to spot. Something about being in a library makes me feel safe and at home.  It was while I was living in this cheap hostel, searching for a job, checking my bank account after every purchase, exploring the city on my own, that I began stressing about the future and if I really made the right decision. I struggled with loneliness and intense anxiety.  I wrote in my blog a year ago how I took myself out to dinner for the first time at a fancy restaurant and forced myself to enjoy my own company, without my phone or any hesitation. It felt weird and uncomfortable but overall, it was liberating.

A year ago I had no idea that at this hostel I would meet the man that I am now in love and happily living with. I had no idea that my passion for health and wellness, helping others, and sharing my journey would turn into such a huge driving force in my career and my life. For all my travelers out there, I know you can understand why traveling makes you so reflective but if you don’t travel much, I would love to explain why. When you travel or live abroad, especially for long periods of time, your life goes into a time warp and months seem like years and days seem like minutes. It feels like you just left home but it also feels as if you have existed in this universe forever. You develop a routine in your new turf because despite the need for freedom and adventure, human beings are all creatures of habits. When you move away from everything you’ve ever known, you are left with yourself. You are left to define yourself, in whatever manner you desire. The people you meet may learn about your past from stories, photographs and Facebook stalking, but a traveler meets everyone at face value, as the person they are today. It’s a beautiful way to approach life and a particularly comforting way to approach people.

The whole concept of the travel bug sounded silly to me at first. It sounded cliche and overused and quite frankly, trite. But a harsh reality you face in this world, is that cliches only construct meaning in your life when they are relevant to you. The travel bug isn’t a creature you want to take lightly. Now that I have lived abroad for 2 out of the last 3 years of my 20’s, I am heavily addicted. I am in love with the way it feels to explore new cities and look at every minute moment as something special and worth remembering. I am in love with the feeling of coming and going because it constantly reminds you how good you have it. When I travel home, I see the same city I grew up in with fresh eyes. All my favorites of home become that much more divine and sacred. Even though I have lived in Sydney for a year now, it still feels fresh and exciting to me. When I got my teaching job, experienced a few weeks of summer in Sydney and met my handsome Englishman, I felt an overwhelming feeling of contentment. I felt satisfied, grounded and “home” in a way that is difficult to verbalize. I asked myself out-loud, and many of my friends, “Why would you ever choose to leave this?”

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#WCW: What we need to be

I heard a little girl speaking to her mother on the elevator asking why she had to go to her classmate’s birthday party even though it wasn’t her friend. Her mother said, “We need to be kind to everyone in our class not just our friends. We need to think about how we want friends at our birthday party so we do the same for others. We need to be…” DING. The elevator door opened to their floor and I didn’t catch the end of her statement. I wanted to chase after the woman and squeeze her frail and tired body. I started creating a whole list of things in my head  that “We need to be” particularly as women. I’ve spent a lot of time in the past 6 years around groups of women. I was in a sorority in college and my coaching team is predominantly female. I’ve met and befriended women from all over the world and I have grown such a deep respect and admiration for women who are fighting the good fight. I am in several online communities in the digital world that promote women traveling, exercising, writing, and pretty much owning their personal passions.  I love women who are standing up for what they believe in, especially when it isn’t something that everyone believes in. We need more women like that.

 I am fascinated by the fact that feminism seems to be such a dirty word reserved for granola, crunchy hippies who hate men and live with 10 cats. Alright, that is a harsh generalization but I think you know what I mean by a “dirty word.” It has a  lot of stigma attached to it, such as words like racism, mental health, suicide, rich, money, conservative, business, abortion, Muslim, gay etc. All words with a stigma attached to them are  topics that are highly misunderstood, quite taboo to talk about, and generally the people who do talk about them are people who don’t represent them in the first place. I believe in strong  women, feminism and women having a voice. So, here it is. I don’t hate men. I love men. I was raised by an incredible man, grew up with two wonderful guys as my older brothers and I am currently in love with one of the good ones. But, I, in fact am a woman. And I have a voice. A voice I can proudly articulate. Today is World Gratitude Day and I am beyond grateful that I have a voice. Magic Lessons with Elizabeth GIlbert seems to be a weekly reference point lately, but I truly feel so connected to her message, her guests and somehow my life seems to coincide perfectly. Gilbert said on this week’s episode, “To be criticized is the tax that you pay for having a public voice. To be rejected is the tax that you pay for having a public voice. There is a very simple way to make sure that you are never criticized and never rejected and that is to never have a public voice.”

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Loud and Heavy

The past week was full of a lot of important and meaningful days for me. Some hold significance for whole communities and some are simply significant to me, but they have culminated and left me feeling heavy…in a good way. I share a lot about One Wave, the nonprofit surf organization, that I have become a part of since I moved to Sydney a year ago. Every Friday I head to Bondi Beach in my Fluro gear and meet up with the most genuine group of people I have met here in Sydney. We have a group chat about mental health, share stories of struggle and inspiration, bring it in for a group hug and then the surfers head out to the ocean and the yogis practice on the beach. I got involved simply because I saw a Facebook event for sunrise yoga on Bondi beach when I first moved there. I have stayed involved because not only do I love the sunrise beach yoga but I love being supported and reminded how truly important mental health awareness is. Not to mention, I’ve met some of my closest friends there and every Friday we go to brunch together and check in on each other’s week in the most fulfilling and honest way. Everyone who attends is in some way affected by mental health (either in their own experiences or the experiences of loved ones close to them) so it gives me a very safe space to discuss my struggles and to be there for my friends who also are struggling.

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Positive Pain

Pain is such a powerful emotion and one that fueled the beginnings of my passion for writing. Like many of us, creativity was something I always had as a child. I always loved to tell stories to my dolls, about my dolls and I could create alternate universes that I would get lost in for hours. I loved to read stories and then once I developed the ability to write I loved to write them, too. It wasn’t until I lost my best friend Corey in high school that I realized what a therapeutic experience writing was for me and I truly can’t comprehend what my grief process would have been like without this incredible outlet. For the past year I feel as if my blog and the stories I have crafted have given you a very uplifting and positive voice, one that I constantly strive for. I have mentioned before but I feel obligated to again, positive people are not happy all the time.

I repeat, I am not happy all the time. In the past few weeks I have been overcome with stress, anxiety and a multitude of confusing feelings. Instead of stifling them I realize that the only thing more powerful than an uplifting and motivational piece is a stone cold honest one. Usually, when I admit my struggles that is what people connect to. It’s almost as if by acknowledging my own pain I give others the right to feel theirs.

Luckily for me, I have learned and have crafted a lifestyle where I am constantly surrounding myself by positivity and agents for change. I surround myself with good people, motivating podcasts, inspirational books, the life-altering practice of yoga and now I am dabbling in meditation as well. In one my favorite podcasts Magic Lessons by the goddess Elizabeth Gilbert, I was single handedly talked out of my negative thought spiral by one quote from her, “The definition of responsibility is the ability to respond. The definition of responsibility is not how many hours you put into the work week but how well as a human being you are able to respond to life.” I sat there with a gaping mouth and  I dragged my index finger along my phone screen and played it again. Ms. Gilbert? Are you speaking straight to me? I replayed this quote six times until I wrote it safely in the quote section on my notepad and digested the relevance and the power in the simple statement. I am still digesting it’s power.

I am a worrier. I always have been and I am slowly learning that I don’t always have to be. I am a woman. I am a Gemini. I have ADHD and anxiety. I live life intentionally by the seat of my pants. I quit my job and move to foreign countries with my backpack and a dream. I believe so deeply in that fact that life will work out and the universe will send me in the right direction but that doesn’t stop the amount of time I spend worrying. My mind is moving and thinking at every moment of everyday.When I’m not teaching, I’m grading papers, researching lesson plans, creating materials or working on my business, talking to clients, working on my blog, helping people discover their goals, running challenges, reading personal development books, writing notes, creating goal charts, researching travel destinations, reading blogs, stalking puppies and/or food instagrams, are you tired yet? I haven’t even touched on my social life. The funny part is that my whole life I have chose to do this to myself. Since I know I run a million miles an hour, I think I can do a million things and I genuinely want to do them all. But I also can make myself crazy with stress and anxiety and to be honest the past few weeks, I have been fighting so hard to stay away from the constant pile of worries that are piling up in my brain.

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More is possible

In April, I promised to appear weekly with a “headspace” blog post which certainly has turned into an incredible outlet for getting out my weekly thoughts, experiences and reflections. If you are a writer, you understand the often grueling process that goes into our craft and I desired a space to express myself without fretting over my sentence structure or my word choice. Of course, I pay attention to these things but for my weekly writing the actual use of my blog as a “headspace” or a “brain dump” was much more important than the mechanics of the piece. After discovering that one of my favorite authors Elizabeth Gilbert has her own podcast (called Magic Lessons, PLEASE LISTEN) I am feeling more inspired than ever to continue my journey as a writer and push my creativity to higher levels. Coincidentally, I also got an offer to be a contributing writer to an up and coming website that is seeking to be one of the biggest blogging websites on the world wide web. I am so honored and excited because the offer to write for them is completely aligned with my aim for myself as a writer. They encouraged me to write about whatever inspires me the most and see this as an opportunity to connect to a whole new community of writers and readers. Coincidence? I think not. That my friends is the power of the universe.

After binge listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast (trust me a podcast binge is so much more fulfilling and stimulating than a Netflix one) I felt an intense pull at my heart strings to pursue and cherish the gift and the passion I have for my writing. The stories inside of me are not something that I feel as if I can survive without telling. That may sound extremely dramatic to those of you who do not have specific creative calling(that you are aware of) but to me it is plain and simple. Like the feeling of hunger, excitement, joy, or sleepiness. The feeling to create is plain and simple for me and it is relentless. The more I listen to it, the freer I feel. You can expect to see more from me in the coming months as I pursue my new venture as a contributing writer. I am honored and downright ecstatic based on the continual support I get from those around me. My mother, will always be my most faithful reader and artful critic. But I notice and appreciate every bit of feedback you give me. The truth is, I would and will write despite the fact that anyone reads or enjoys it. But the fact that you read and enjoy it channels my inner “flow” of spirit. The more genuine I am to my most inner thoughts and feelings the more my audience responds favorably. To me, that is simply a testament of this incredible gift. One of my favorite quotes, that I have included on the homepage of my blog, “Great writers remind us that more is possible”- Kiddler & Todd. Simply put, I can not think of a better mantra for what I am to aiming to bring to my readers. More is possible, in so many facets and nuances of life, writing, troubles, and happiness. More is infinitely available but impressively elusive. Let’s go find it together. 

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Leave Your Shadow

I’m passionate about discussing and sharing about difficult topics in order to allow other people to feel more at peace and beautiful within their own skin. It’s easy to talk about happy, exciting things but what we really need to talk about is the hard stuff. My thoughts today are on body image. As a health and fitness nut and coach I am constantly talking about, thinking about working on my own and helping others to have a positive body image. Self love and confidence is one of the MOST important gifts which I hope to instill and inspire in others but also one of the hardest things to attain. I think I have a very unique perspective and one I’m willing to share with you to try to expand your grasp of what it means to love yourself and the journey I went on to get there.

As a child I was the epitome of awkward; lanky, big feet, glasses, braces and of course the infamous unibrow. I was a nerd and a bookworm but genuinely a pretty warm and loving kid. I could play in my imagination for hours upon hours. Luckily, today that still is the case.

In my adolescence I realized that most girls were very concerned with how “skinny” they were. I could eat cheeseburgers, pizza, ice cream every night and nothing stuck. I’m not saying this to brag whatsoever, I am simply stating the facts. It is hilarious to me how people can poke fun at themselves for being overweight as a child or in the past but as soon as you mention the opposite problem people want to shut you up real quick. I was teased by friends and strangers about being skinny but I knew I couldn’t help it so I just laughed it off.

As I grew into a teenager I suffered the tremendous loss of my childhood best friend to suicide. She was absolutely gorgeous and “perfect” from an outsider’s perspective. I had countless people ask me, “what did SHE have to be sad about!?” Simply based on the way she looked. Why does an attractive exterior mean that you have an attractive interior? Why should struggling and feeling depressed be exclusive to people who have less appealing appearances? How can people be so ignorant as to not acknowledge that life is NOT all about how we look?

I spent the rest of high school learning what it felt like to look “pretty” and “skinny” on the outside but inside I was carrying so much grief, suffering and pain. I struggled for years trying to cope with the loss of my best friend and sure, I appeared normal and attractive on the outside but my inside soul and mind were in constant turmoil and anguish. I didn’t know what to say when people could only comment (negatively) about how lucky I was about being skinny. Or “shut up, you wouldn’t understand.” How selfish of you to exclude me from the “suffering club” based on my appearance? But, yet again, how is this something that any teenager could verbalize? Most adults still wouldn’t. But you know what, if I have learned anything about life, it’s that it is too damn short to walk on eggshells. I will bare my soul to you even if it’s about topics that are hard to discuss because real recognizes real and I simply refuse to silence my heart now that I have learned how to love myself properly.

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