I believe there are two kinds of people in the world. Those who loved gym class, and those who just shuddered at the words “gym class.”
Basketball was the worst. I vividly remember playing defense against Audra, a petite blonde. She seemed popular to me — but then, everybody did. I stood in front of her, halfheartedly waving my arms, feeling clumsy and silly.
“I hate this,” I heard her say. With relief, I stopped flapping my arms, happy to hear that popular Audra hated gym class!
“Me too,” I said enthusiastically, smiling.
“I said I hate YOU,” she corrected me.
I can’t remember us ever even having a conversation before then. But I believed I knew why Audra hated me. She hated me because I was fat. Because I ate cookies at lunch. Because I couldn’t do pull-ups and I got wedgies while running around the track.
I hated me too.
Worth Fighting For
Hating yourself is not a pretty thing. It’s certainly not what we were created for. But that self-hatred lasted well into my 30s. By then it was a familiar feeling. And I didn’t even realize not everyone felt that way about themselves.
I remember writing an essay for a class I was taking, and penning these words: When I look in the mirror every morning, that voice of my youth still whispers about my flaws.
In the margin, my writing mentor scribbled the words “Really? Every morning?”
Yes. Every morning.
That writing mentor was one of several whom I worked with as I was completing my MFA work in Creative Nonfiction. For my thesis, I was writing a memoir. It was at times painful, but with each word I wrote about my childhood, with each prayer I prayed as I relived painful memories, I felt like poison was being leeched from my veins.
That’s why it seemed fitting that, on the day I graduated from grad school, I began a new journey. One of hope and healing and falling down and getting up again. For two years, I had dug into my past and written about joyful things and hard things. And at the end of it, I realized something that had eluded me for so long.
I was worth fighting for.
That’s the only path to real change, you know? And it can take a long time to reach that realization. For me, it started with years of counseling with a godly woman who prayed with me and for me and helped to lay the foundation that I was a loved, precious child of God.
And then the years of grad school, of exploring a life that began as the child of divorced parents, growing into a scared girl in a fire and brimstone church, and arriving at a young adult who finally realizes perfection is elusive and grace is a gift.
I’ve been on this new journey for nearly three years. I write about it in “7 Easy Steps to Losing 75 Pounds.” I have accomplished things I never thought were possible. I have run races. I have said, “I love you.” I have inspired others.
I hope my words will inspire you to take care of yourself. Not to lose weight, not boil your life down to pants sizes and numbers on a scale (though, for sure, that is a fraction of the journey).
I want you to cook delicious food for yourself. And go on walks in the sunset where your skin turns golden and then pink. I want you to push yourself harder than you thought you could. And accomplish more than you ever knew was possible.
I want you to think, If she can do it, I can do it.
Because you can.
Copyright 2016 Brandy Campbell. All rights reserved.