Sunday, January 30, 2011


Let me just preface this by saying this past week was one of the most glorious things I've ever experienced.  I love the actions, people, and places.   There will be a blogpost full of all the wonderful things I got to see and do and the awesome people I met and grew closer too.  But tonight's post is a little different.  Tonight's post is about exactly what the title says: insecurities.  Let me explain myself.

This past week was so amazing because I was at Festival (a nickname for a weeklong series of workshops, classes, competitions, and parties for regional college/university theater programs).  Because our campus is so small, we will never be able to host Festival on our own. . . which means we were all off campus for a (marvelous) week.  A week which I didn't have as much money as I hoped for, to buy food.  At one point, I lasted two days on nothing but a bag of beef jerky and a bottle of rootbeer, both from a vending machine. So tonight, back on campus, tired after rehearsal, I was standing waiting for my dinner when a strange thought hit me.

I could just not eat.

No really - I could.  Yes, my stomach was full of pain and gurgling.  Yes, it had been hours since I'd had anything and I'd been virtually fasting for the past week, but so what?  How many nights had I just fallen asleep, my stomach clenched and empty?  How many hours of workshops, work, rehearsing, and exercising had I done on half a power bar (generously offered by a friend) and an apple?  I've been working so hard on my body: it was so tempting to find another way.  To maybe be thin.  To just. . . not eat.  All I had to do was walk away without my order. . . who would say anything?  Maybe I'd be thin this way.  Maybe.  Maybe.  Maybe.  And then the rational part of my brain kicked in: the part that knew I needed sustenance or I'd get sick.  That I never wanted a THIN body, I wanted a lean, healthy, strong body.  The part of my brain that pulled up the image of Boyfriend's face if he ever found out I had an eating disorder.  The dance teacher's who told me I was fat, whose hard words were never enough to make me starve.  The friends I'd just walked away from, who had tried to keep me fed this week when my money ran out.  I waited for my order, and I ate. . . just like I'll continue to eat, because I know it's what my body needs.  But it was so hard to do, as I stood there running my hand on my hip bone, noting how much more bone and less hip there was. . .

As I ate, I realized something: I've made lots of progress over the past year and a half.  I really have, as I grapple with my demons.  But insecurity is a slippery thing.  On a bad day, it slides in on the air I breathe as I walk to class.  It's as easy to slip on as a favorite worn t-shirt, and heavier than a thousand pounds of chainmail.  I thought back to the week I had, already consigned to memory and realized it had even slipped in there.  It was my companion on my dance floor, the last night of festival: everyone dressed to kill, dancing and singing their hearts out.  I was wearing a brand new dress, and had done my hair and my makeup.  Then someone leaned over to me, and opened their mouth: "holy crap, is that you?!?!?  You look great!  I didn't even recognize you. . . "

And for a second I was three feet tall, a little girl in her big sister's clothing.  Why didn't you recognize me?  We've gone to school together for almost two years. . . I'm pretty to you, now, behind a dark dance floor and shimmering make up.  So you weren't sure who I was.  Ouch.

Or when my friend/Festival roommate choreographed a dance: it was fun and we all sang along to the song, laughing until 2 am.  There was a little part of me that was scared to laugh too hard, in case I made it all disappear. . . the way a strong wind rips smoke apart.  They would turn around and realize I'm here.  And I'm no fun.  I'll go back to my room and everyone else will stay together, all night. . .

Silly thing, insecurity.  I laughed and no one sent me home.  I'll eat and still stay fit.  I can dance and be beautiful and go to class and be plain, as long as I am myself.

Hopefully, in another 18 months, it will be easier to remember that.

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