In my early 20s I rocked crazy abs, my thighs had space between them, and I felt confident in my body. As I went through life changes – entering into a serious relationship, starting to work full-time, trying to balance friendships, romantic interests, family, and career at the same time – my body went through it’s own changes. It aged. It sagged. It got wider in the hips, thicker in the thighs, and rounder in the belly.
For a long time, I let “it” fall by the wayside because I was too busy balancing all other aspects of my life. For a long time, I forgot “it” was me. I forgot “it” was important.
My 40-hour week replaced my days at the beach, running in the sand, and jogging in the park. My then-relationship led me to the “relationship body” and the idea that you grow dormant and fat in a happy relationship. As my friends and I started entering the workforce and trying to get all our schedules to sync up, we realize that the only time that we have available are during the weekday evenings, and the time that we all had in common was dinner – and so that led to many meals out, gossiping, and drinking in order to keep tabs on each others’ lives. The weekends were reserved for family and family parties, where most of the socializing and the bonding happens over a huge meal.
I was so consumed with managing my life, balancing all the stresses, cultivating an identity that I thought I wanted to be, that I let who I am, truly, my own self down. The vessel that carries me, that allows me to do what I need to do, that will remain with me till I die, I allowed to be relegated to being known as an “it”. I objectified myself. I stopped being myself and I allowed what should be my best friend to become an “it”.
My once 20-odd year old body turned into a 30-something body without my realizing where all the time had gone. After all these years, the body that I was in, the body that I had forsaken still remains with me, even after all those things, ideals, people, careers had fallen away from me.
My realization today came to me when I looked in the mirror and found myself thinking back to my times at the beach, completely satisfied with myself in my younger body and thinking how far I’ve come in my life and the many sacrifices I had done in order to get here and I am wondering to myself, was it all worth it? For the experience, yes; for the stories, yes; for the learning, yes; but, in all those gains, I let the one constant in my life down – myself. I looked in the mirror today and I felt sad for myself – my crazy abs are questionably still there, but hiding under a thick layer of visceral fat, my thighs are touching and grazing against one another causing my jeans to have wear-and-tear in that area. I noticed a few white hairs. My skin is no longer supple. I no longer look as healthy as I once did before and I found myself criticizing my body. Today was the first time in a long time that I had looked at myself, really looked at myself as a person and not just as this thing that moved from one place to another to gain experience, to learn, to earn stories. I found myself mad at my body, but why? For not being what it used to? A weak reason, and a reason that I am responsible for.
I had an “I hate my body” moment today. But in the light of my self-reflection, I realized that I did this to myself. That this body, despite having been relegated to second string, had been with me through all my stories, my experiences, and my learning. it is the one true friend that I have had this whole time and I was not going to let her down. I am not going to let myself down. I earned this body and I was going to treat this body better. Not just better, but learn to love it.
It’s okay that I am not in my 20s anymore.
It’s okay that I do not have my abs or a thigh gap.
It’s okay that I’ve put on a few pounds over the last 5 years.
It’s okay that I am going gray.
I will work hard on ensuring my health. But,
It’s okay if I never regain my 20s body again.
I can’t go back in time, but I can try my best moving forward.