Here’s the backstory to the picture on the left if you’re wondering why I look like a fish out of water on the “beach.” So…in high school, I took a graphic design class for all 4 years. On the first day of my junior year, we were assigned a project. The project was to show what fun things we did over summer break. The first step was to take a full body shot, and that alone was a horrific experience for me. I hated having my picture taken, especially full body shots. Once that was done, we were to cut ourselves out and superimpose our pictures into a fun location we adventures to over break. Well…I. HAD. NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. My summer break was spent in my bedroom, hiding from the world. No vacations. No fun day trips. Nothing more than the occasional shopping trip with my mom or random hangouts with the handful of friends that I had at the time.
I stared at my computer screen and drew a blank. I didn’t know what to do. I glanced at a few computer screens around me. And the dread set in even further. I saw pictures of elaborate locations that were hundreds of miles away. Me? I was lucky to have traveled more than 10 miles away from home. So. I started picking my brain and came up with a temporary solution to get me through what felt like a never ending moment. I Googled pictures of beaches. And without much thought, I chose an image that looked good to the eye. I pretended that I went on a family vacation to the beach to avoid telling others that I didn’t do anything fun. I don’t know why I cared so much. As an adult, I now know that not everyone has the opportunity to go on vacation every year. And there is nothing wrong with that. But at that moment, I felt dread for the mere reason that I cared far too much about what others thought about me.
Let’s take the “beach” away. What’s left? I barely recognize the girl in that photo.
I spent years trying to figure out who I was in order to figure out who I was not.
I’m simply someone who has walked through a bunch of rainstorms by putting one foot in front of the other. I could no longer be the girl who stood there and drowned myself in my own thoughts. I could no longer define myself by the opinion of others. I could no longer consider myself damaged goods. I was so much more. And it’s a shame that it took me so long to realize this.
Let’s take a moment to explore these pictures a little bit more. So much is happening in these brief moments in time.
My body was large, but my soul was small.
Now my body is small, but my soul is large.
Even without typing a word, you can see and understand the psychological differences through my appearance alone. My body language is screaming lack of confidence in the picture on the left. My hands are hanging down by my sides because I hated the way I looked and didn’t want to pose for the camera. Since I was too depressed to make an effort, this was my attire/hairstyle 99% of the time. It’s kind of ironic that I’m wearing a t-shirt that says athletic on it since I was far from it at the time. Now look at my face. There’s an obscure quarter grin painted on my face because I felt there was no reason to smile.
It’s blatantly obvious that I was not in a good state of mind during this period of my life. I still have gloomy days due to clinical depression/anxiety, but my coping strategies are different and more persistent. For instance, running is a HUGE coping tool for me. But that’s another story.
So let’s examine the picture on the right. Ignoring the weight loss factor, there is a noticeable difference in my body language and the way that I present myself. I have my hands on my hips because I’m more in tune with my body, and my confidence has sky rocketed over the years. LOOK! I’M WEARING A DRESS AND HEELS! Prior to my decision to lose weight, the last time that I had worn a dress was sometime within my early childhood during Christmas time. Since my success, I’m into fashion and dressing up. I love wearing dresses now! I also do my hair (when not wearing running/work attire) and makeup. The point is…I now care enough about myself to make an effort. And I do so for myself and not anyone else. BUT! The most important difference is that I’m smiling, and it’s not fake. It’s not painted on.
All in all, I used to look back at these memories and be embarrassed. That’s the thing about “before” photos. I used to see them as painful reminders of a dark time in my life. But now, after all of my continued hard work, I’m proud of my before pictures. I don’t want to hide them, and neither should you, should you have one. A before picture, to me, doesn’t have to be weight related. It can be a multitude of things!
It took a lot of diligence to have my own before picture, and it takes even more commitment to never allow myself to go back to the body/mind I once inhabited.
Disclaimer: Before things are taken out of context, I don’t want my readers to think that there is ever something wrong with their body type. For me, I wasn’t happy in my own body, so I made multiple positive changes to turn things around until I was comfortable in my own skin. Everyone is unique, and we have different wants/needs in our lives! If you love yourself, that is fantastic! Keep doing you!