My high school years weren’t fantastic. They were good, don’t get me wrong. I graduated second in my class, got to deliver a speech at the commencement ceremony, had a great senior year, laughed a lot, made great friends, toilet papered a few houses and sang the alma mater plenty.
However, I never felt pretty during those 4 years. Not once. I skipped my senior prom, never had a boyfriend, and felt like an ugly duckling who was not as thin (nor as tan) as my friends. I was smart, but that doesn’t give you confidence when you’re 16.
So, when I created my Lifetime To Do list, I added that I wanted to go to my 10 year reunion looking great.
I worked my butt off for years to change what I looked like. I educated myself on eating healthier, and focused on breaking a sweat. I learned what foods gave me energy vs those that made me sluggish. I spent a year without a car in college and walked as much as possible. I worked out more than I had before.
But most importantly, I got happy. I realized that when I was happy, I was healthy. I wasn’t starving myself and slowing down my metabolism. When I was happy, I put effort into eating foods that were fresh and not processed. I stopped complaining about my stomach, and started enjoying things other than body obsession. And, THAT was how I lost 50 lbs over the course of a few years. It came off slowly, but it stayed off. And, I became a new person as a result.
As the reunion approached, I obsessed over what dress to wear and how thin I looked in it, etc. I made sure my make up was perfect that night. And then it hit me: The way I looked wasn’t the bucket list achievement. The biggest win was the interior change; the confidence to be myself and the bravery to master life outside of how others perceived me. And, suddenly, I realized I felt beautiful not because of a sequined dress, or makeup, or 50 lbs gone. I felt beautiful because of how comfortable I had gotten in my own skin. It’s like I had finally gotten to know myself over the course of 10 years and I liked me. I liked me enough to take my white girl dance moves to the dance floor, without a care in the world.
I wish I had felt that beautiful and confident in 1999. High school would have been a whole different experience.