Thursday, August 20, 2015

Don't Forget to Love the 'Before'

As I approach my 1 year mark at FXB, I’ve been thinking back over not only my FXB journey but also the months before I signed up for the 10-Week Challenge. In addition, I’ve been seeing a lot of social media posts recently from people showing the progress they’ve made on their own health and fitness journeys.

I love seeing how people have been able to transform their lives. I love hearing their confidence and seeing how proud they are of what they’ve accomplished. I love that they can inspire others to want to do the same. For these reasons, I hope to keep seeing these types of posts from others. I also hope to share my own some day.

However, there is one thing that I wish could change. I wish that all of these wonderful people could look at that before picture with as much respect and love for the person it in as they do for the person in the after picture.

Don’t get me wrongI get it. Anyone who loses weight does so because they felt the weight they were at before wasn’t healthy. Maybe they didn’t like the way they looked. Maybe they didn’t like the way their clothes fit. They lost weight, got healthy, and it feels great! They worked hard and were dedicated to a difficult journey. They have a reason to be proud.

But it seems as though sometimes it’s easy to get so caught up in being proud of the person we’ve become that we forget to acknowledge the person we were—or we believe that we have to find fault with the person in the before photo. Because if there was no fault, then why would we have made the change?

I wrote a post a while back about Shooting the Curl. In that post I mentioned that I’ve learned it’s important to remember that we can’t separate out the past from the future. One builds off the other, and they have to be able to coexist to shape the turbulence of the present. If it wasn’t for that person in the before photo, there would be no after photo—the future needs the past to exist.

Almost exactly one year ago, I wrote something for myself. I wrote these words in an effort to help myself achieve an emotionally healthy mindset.

Who I Love the Most

I realized recently that I have one more step to make before my journey can be successful. And it’s huge.

I have to love all the versions of me that have existed.

1) The pre-college me.

This girl was innocent. She was caring and didn’t pass judgment on others. She hung out with various groups of people and respected them even if she didn’t agree with their choices. In return, they never pushed her to do anything she wasn’t comfortable doing. She learned how it felt to fall in love. How it felt to have her heart broken. How it felt to hurt someone who loved her more than she could love in return. She learned how to make decisions that would impact the rest of her life. She learned the value of a true friend.

She was young, beautiful, carefree, smart, funny, athletic, and hard-working.

She’s easy to love. And even though my image of her fades more and more over time, my love for her remains strong.

2) The college me.

This girl. Yeah, this girl had it. She had something about her that made me fall in love with her instantly. She navigated the unknown territory with a hunger in her eyes. She was ready to learn—inside the classroom and out. She made friends quickly. She fell in love with the wrong boy. Then she learned it wasn’t really love. Then she fell in love with the right boy. She worked hard and played hard. She jumped out of planes. She sat in a sea of men and held her own. She challenged herself and others around her. She made people listen and want to talk to her. She made people like her who didn’t really want to. She danced and sang and smiled and laughed.

She was bold, confident, strong, adventurous, and in love with life.

She’s fun to love. My love for her often carries me through the difficult times.

3) The new adult me.

Although I want to call her a girl, she’s really a woman. She was challenged almost from day one of her existence. She had to learn how to not only float in a sea of men, but how to stand out among them. She was told she couldn’t do or know things simply because she was a woman. She started her life without many friends. There were tears. There were questions. But she learned to lean on love. To find her voice and make it strong. She learned how it felt to lose someone so dear. She learned that true friendship didn’t come with strings attached. She learned that life didn’t always go as planned. She started to let insecurities take hold. She internalized comments and let them fester. To survive, she split herself off into two different people—the confident woman inside the office and the insecure woman outside of it.

She was ever changing, unsure of her future, and was often lost. She started to feel she wasn’t good enough.

It’s not that she’s harder to love, but my love for her stems more from sympathy than admiration. I look back on her and want to hold her hand and support her along the way. To be that friend she so desperately needed in the beginning.

4) The adult me.

This woman had to fight. Life was good to her, but it also threw challenges her way. Certain things didn’t go as planned. While her career was successful, her personal life suffered. She felt the effects of depression. She learned what it meant to make difficult decisions. She didn’t always take responsibility for her circumstances. She was let down by some of the people she cared about most in the world. She had to find a way to make herself a priority and deal with the criticisms that came with that choice. She learned that unconditional love did exist, but she still had to fight for it. She learned that there’s a reason for everything, but she may never get the answers she wants. She had to learn anew how to have faith. She lost a lot, but gained just as much. She often looked for the negative. She blamed herself when things didn’t go the way she expected. She felt alone. She felt out of place.

She was a disappointment. She was confused. She was conflicted. She didn’t believe in herself. She believed she lived under a constant shadow of judgment.

She’s been hard to love, and so I haven’t. I won’t go so far as to say that I hate her, but I don’t respect her. I blame her for all my failures and disappointments. For letting go of the person she used to be.

But now I see her for who she truly is.

She’s strong. She’s beautiful. She’s an inspiration. She’s caring. She’s daring. She makes difficult choices and sacrifices for others. She wears her flaws and failures on the outside for everyone to see, and still she walks with her head held high.

I realize now that I love her the most. She was the final phase before I could become the person God wants me to be.

I may be working toward a new life, but I’m no longer working toward a new me.

I love the me that I am.

I’ve decided to share this because I hope that it will help others look at the person in their before photo a bit differently. Don’t be ashamed of who that person was. Love them for having the strength to endure the challenges that formed the person in the after photo.

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