The semester is moving forward, and the closer we get to summer, the less I care about school. Every year, I start my classes with the best intentions — but by the time we get to April and May, I find it harder and harder to stay at my desk and focus when I could be outside, spending time with my friends and enjoying my life. At the same time, the harder I work, the less time I make for self-care. Finding a balance is a real challenge for me.
For that reason, when I try to motivate myself during the end of the semester, I focus just as much on balance and happiness as I do on pure hard work. Aggressive motivation (in the style of “When you want to succeed as much as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful”— a real quote that I hear too often) doesn’t work for me. I need give and take, and a real image of what I’m working towards in order to stay motivated long-term. Today I’m showing you how I motivate myself for both success and happiness.
Numbers mean something to me. Weight, calories, dress sizes — thanks to two decades of living in this body, each kind of number carries its own connotation. I’m sure they do for you, too.
Imagine, for a second, a woman looking in a mirror.
If I say she’s a size 2, what comes to mind?
What if I say she’s a size 22?
Those sizes probably conjure up specific images for you; not just of different bodies, but of different people. They are probably wearing different clothes, doing different things, or feeling differently about their reflections. For me, the size 2 woman is strong, beautiful, and confident. The size 22 woman is less secure, less healthy, and less happy.
Those are the messages that flash in my mind before I can correct myself; before I can remind myself that weight and size don’t dictate worth, wellness, or happiness. But the underlying images are still there, telling me, essentially, that size 2 means health, beauty, and confidence, and that size 22 does not.
I, by the way, am a size 22.
You may have noticed something a little different cropping up on my blog lately. It’s not a quote, or a word, or a particular photo. It’s a sunflower, and it represents something big.
I used to love fashion magazines. As a middle schooler, only twelve years old, I used to play a game with them. I would look at a model’s stomach, her arms, her thighs. I’d pick out one thing I liked most and imagine switching it for mine. Goodbye, rounded stomach. So long, big feet. I’d imagine what it would be like to wake up in a new body the next day – shocked and amazed by my newly slim physique, tanner skin, or long flowing hair. I thought about how different my life would be if I were ‘beautiful.’ Would I be popular? Would I be dating? Would people like me more if I were prettier?
As you all know, I’m a bit nuts about self-care. What you may not know is that I’m also totally crazy about music. I listen to it constantly – when working, doing laundry, or even writing this blog post! Music is one of my favorite things because it can so easily trigger feelings or memories – so let’s use that for good!