Brave. Possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance. To defy, challenge, or dare. Synonymous with a warrior.
Brave is a word I'd never use to describe myself. Ever. Yet it's the singular word that almost every anonymous Sarahah comment left me with (and by many people un-anonymously as well). Brave for being so open and honest. Brave for being public with difficult topics. Brave for being authentic. Brave, brave, brave.
I want to fight this notion and let you all know that I am not brave. I'm not brave because all I'm doing here is sitting behind a keyboard typing the way I feel. I'm not actually changing the world. I'm not involved with a startup (though to be fair to myself, I have tried getting involved with groups, but as this isn't exactly a big blog, no one really wants me). But yea. I haven't done anything courageous by definition. The men and women who fight for our country are brave. Refugees from other countries are brave. Fighting cancer or any other life threatening disease is brave. Standing up against religious and political groups is brave. Standing up for basic human rights is brave. I've stood up and spoken out against a few things, but nothing that could have terrible repercussions for me, my family, or friends.
I guess this bugs me because I don't want people to think I'm brave because I'm doing this. In my eyes, I'm just being honest. I genuinely just want to help and to show someone somewhere that they aren't alone. And selfishly, this is a form of therapy for me. Typing my emotions out, whether in real time or after the fact, helps me make sense of everything going on in my brain. That's it. If we, in a general collective sense, see honesty as bravery, then that scares me. Because my opinion is that honesty isn't brave, honesty is the right thing to do. Yes, I get scared of judgement. I worry about what people think. But mental health and depression and anxiety is bigger than me and my pride.
So here I am, and here I will continue to be.
I did get some constructive criticism feedback. People don't necessarily agree with the way I eat or how I achieve "health". And while in the immediate moment it stings to read, thinking about it now, I'm just going to take those comments with a grain of (pink himalayan) salt. I'm not here to be a fitness or food blogger. I like to think I do a pretty good job about not being preachy. I'm still finding what works for me and I never want to put my way of living on others. My life is my life, yours is yours. The way I eat makes me happy - everything from smoothie bowls and veggie only meals to buckets of tater-tots and pieces of cheese-removed pizza that don't make my belly feel the most happy after. I know I don't have to justify why I eat the way I do, but I will say this. Eating this way frees me from the way I used to be. If I tried incorporating meat or dairy back into my life, I'm sure after an adjustment period I wouldn't feel ill anymore. But the mental sickness that would ensue would be hell. I refuse to let food have the power over me it once did. I'm so scared to regress to the girl who couldn't get through a day without calorie counting. I don't want to go back to purging - thinking that vomiting, taking laxatives, or running until I can't is the only solution other than starving myself. I'm self aware enough to know I'm not strong enough to go back to eating a carnivorous diet. I'm choosing to be stronger than my ED. I'm not giving in, and if that means I have to eat the way I do, then that's what I'm going to do. Because there is strength in knowing your limits. I'd rather never eat a real piece of pizza again than deal with the guilt and demons that would haunt me. On the flip side, I really just don't want to be seen as any kind of influence on other peoples eating or way of achieving health. I only share my experiences because they've either really helped or really not helped me. Yes I've been dumb and done juice cleanses, I've fasted, I've boughten those stupid skinny teas. I've done less stupid things like Whole30, paleo, macro counting, and veganism. I've been obsessive about exercise. I've done the stupid amounts of cardio thing, the cross fit thing, the yoga/barré classes thing, the olympic lifting thing, the cycling/spinning thing, and I've done nothing. I've made some poor choices and (will) continue to make them because I'm human. I share these not so shining moments because we all make mistakes - and these mistakes make us better humans in the end. Or at least I'm trying to make my mistakes into life lessons. And I share the standout experiences because maybe they'll help someone else - whether in the short or long term. And that's fine too.
I don't regret this experiment at all. And continuing being real, only like 6 people even wrote me something. So in a sense I feel like this wasn't the most conclusive experiment due to lack of data points. But working with what I was given: Yes, it's hard to read not-so-great things about you. It's even harder to read people's not-so-positive opinions on things you've been working your ass off get better at. But that was such a small con to the pro of all the really lovely things that people told me. If you did take the time to write something, I'm touched. Genuinely. Positive or negative or both, you took actual time out of your day to help me better myself and I'm grateful. I will always be surprised at the amount of people that care about me. And that's not a self pity thing, that's how your brain works with anxiety and depression, thing. This validation that I am worth it, that what I'm trying to do is worth it, means so much to me I can't even put it into words. But aside from the selfish, "people like me", aspect of this experiment. The best part was writing out to other people, whether friends or acquaintances, and telling them why I think they are amazing humans. There's a weirdly liberating feeling to giving compliments without being recognized or acknowledged for them. It was really awesome seeing how my anonymous posts "made" someone else's day. It felt like I was some kind of kindness ninja.
Maybe, now more than ever, we all need to be more like a kindness ninja...