I like to define things. I label, color code, group, and try to narrow down almost everything, including myself. So, during a time when I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted or what I even liked, anorexic seemed like the perfect label. The perfect solution to my identity “problem.” Of course, I didn’t realize that for a long time but now I see that it is one of the many factors that fuels my eating disorder. It’s that little voice that says, Without me you are nothing. Without me you have no identity.
And that’s scary. As human beings, we like to feel special and as if we belong. Sometimes that innate, perfectly natural desire leads us to do things that are unhealthy and ultimately destructive. But in the moment it feels good, it makes us feel special, and gives us an identity, however sick it may be.
So now that I am pursuing recovery once again (with many slips and falls along the way), I am confronted with the age-old question: Who am I without anorexia?
This question doesn’t just apply to eating disorders, either. Substitute “anorexia” for anything. Who am I without my boyfriend/girlfriend? Who am I without drugs? Who am I outside of this sport/activity/my academic achievements? The question is really Who am I?
What I am slowly realizing is that there is no one answer to that question. Because, when you get right down to it, you can’t define a whole person by a single thing. Yes, a person may be an artist, but they are also more than an artist. Yes, a person may suffer from a physical or mental illness, but they are also more than that illness.
And when you try to define another person or yourself with a single thing, you immediately shut down the possibility of ever discovering anything new about yourself. When I define myself as being solely “anorexic”, I don’t give myself the chance to be all that I can be. I miss out on meaningful friendships and experiences because I believe that I am nothing more than the girl with the eating disorder.
But I am trying to challenge that negative voice that says I am nothing more than my eating habits and body size. It is hard, especially when the anxiety and depression creeps in, but I KNOW there are so many parts of myself that I have yet to discover and explore.
I realize that this post has been a little bit all over the place (although really, aren’t all my posts?), but the message I want you to take away is this: You can’t define a person with a single word. When you do, you don’t get to see all the beautiful parts of them. And this applies to you, too (yep, and me). You’ve got so many talents and abilities and you don’t need to be defined by a single one.
As a little side note, I created a page with a giant bucket list, full of all the things I want to do. It’s a way for me to realize that yes, I am more than a mental illness or any one thing. I’ve got a lot of things I want to try. I can’t do any of them if I stay stuck in my self-created box. There are currently ten things on the list, but I will be constantly adding to it and I would love for you to contribute in the comments.
Have a wonderful day or, if you’re a night owl like me, have a wonderful night/very early morning!;)