Look Up

In recent weeks, I’ve noticed myself forming a habit I don’t really care for. It’s actually I tend to critique others, especially when I see it regularly all around my college campus. This habit? Texting or checking my phone while walking between classes.

Okay, it certainly isn’t as bad as texting and driving. And if you have a busy schedule, that time in between activities may be the only chance to check for any notifications. The sheer fact it has become so normal to walk around with your face glued to a screen is the problem.

Admittedly, glancing at a phone is a great way to avoid potentially awkward situations. We’ve all done it. Not a fan of random eye contact with strangers? Here’s a valid reason to avoid it. But I have become a huge proponent of the phrase “it’s only awkward if you make it awkward.” Using your phone regularly is crutch for us to avoid growing as a person. Personally, yes, it’s great having a go-to way to escape unnecessary interaction, especially if I’m “peopled out,” but on just a regular basis, they take us away from potentially memorable moments. The countless time I spend on my phone all blurs together, but the moments I share with others will forever be ingrained in my memory. Social media can help me get to those moments and keep in touch with loved ones, but they by no means replace the real thing.

I have also found myself considering how using my phone between classes can make me feel more productive, making the most of every spare minute toward practical purposes (as if social media is a slightly practical purpose). I’m a workaholic as it is. Somehow I can rationalize that any moment I’m not looking at a screen to do something is a wasted opportunity. I forget how important it truly is to take a break, even if it’s just a few spare seconds. But I later regret those moments, thinking of the nature and people I passed by. What’s more productive here? Does having a tangible way to track how active I am, with posts or tweets, overshadow my own moments of appreciation for the world around me?

I try to think back to when I was younger and didn’t have a smart phone. It’s hard for me to recreate my satisfaction of resting my eyes upon anything beyond a screen or something to amuse myself. When at home, I’ve always felt awkward eating meals or sitting at the table without a TV on or reading material in front of me. I now realize I just like focusing on other things other than the deep realm of introspective thoughts that often go into ED thoughts and self-critique. But from an outside perspective, I’m choosing mediocre entertainment over devoting my attention to connecting with others. That’s a rash statement to make, especially when I place such a high value on the important people in my life, but from a passing glance, it sure doesn’t seem like it.

Even though I find myself checking my phone often when I’m alone, I hate doing it with other people because I know how annoying it is. If I’m choosing to spend my time with you, you better be all there. Phones make communication and productivity much easier, but they by no means our only or best resource.

While I wouldn’t necessarily call myself addicted to a smart phone and social media, some people are. They can’t go a second without knowing what is going on and what they might be missing. Maybe not every second, but pretty close. The few minutes walking around campus might not seem like a big deal, but perhaps this time can be spent in a more fulfilling way.

I’m not addicted, but my phone certainly plays a key role in my day. Every morning, the first thing I do is check my phone. And it’s also the last thing I do before going to bed and turning on a podcast to fall asleep to. I usually like myself tweeting daily or at least checking on all of my random profiles. Trust me, I have plenty of those. But I fear myself and others reaching a point where phones no longer accompany our lives, but are our lives. Some have already reached that point, but the reminder of how fulfilled I already am, how little I need a distraction to detract myself from everyday life, keeps me in balance. As if I didn’t have enough to balance and think about already. Got to love technology, right?

Although my thoughts on this broad topic seem to ramble, my main concern rings true: phones are no replacement for the changing foliage into fiery hues. They nowhere near compare to a shared laugh with others, especially a laugh that leaves you in tears and your belly aching later. Phones do not mimic the joy of traveling to a new place, even if that place is just around the corner.

Life is great as is. Technology is here to improve ourselves, not overpower. Our world will never become like the futuristic utopias overcome with constant technology and robots doing all of our bidding. (Well, as far I know, and hopefully not in my lifetime). You’re the one in control of your life, not a hard drive or glowing screen. So look up and see what the world has to offer.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie


Never Recovered?

I love the openness I have found in speaking out about difficult topics. It’s not easy. But they need to be said. Especially when they aren’t so hopeful.

You know I strive to be as optimistic as possible on here, to inspire struggling people to push forward for the light at the end of the tunnel. But I also need to be realistic and emphasize that just because you reach a good place doesn’t mean your work is done.

For some people with eating disorders, their condition is very situational and once they recover, they’re good to go. And kudos to those people. Your fight and challenges are just as worthy as anybody else’s, even if your ED told you that you “weren’t sick enough.”

But for other people, even after getting better, they might not ever feel “fully recovered.” I am one of those people. The characteristics of my ED are partially due to my personality traits I just can’t avoid. I’m still a perfectionist. I still strive to feel in control. I’m still fairly critical. I still like finding ways I can feel unique and individual. In therapy, often my counselor told me that all of those key traits were strictly from the ED and would go away once I recovered. Which for some, yes, that’s exactly how it works, but not for everybody.

I’ve struggled with ED thoughts long before I actually took action. My disorder is genetically based, so it’s just an ingrained part of myself therapy can magically cure. It’s not entirely who I am, but I can’t say it isn’t a part of me. I would be lying to you all and myself if I did. Especially when eating is a necessary function to live, it’s not like any other addiction where you can wean off of it and rarely have to face it. Food is always there. The thoughts are still there. They may seem quieter, and I can distinguish them from healthier thoughts, but they make their appearance nonetheless.

Especially when I’ve followed their suggestions for so long, it’s unrealistic to expect myself to just forget everything and start fresh. I’m still aware of the exact number of calories in certain foods, or wondering about numbers or how much energy I’m burning. It doesn’t consume me anymore, luckily, but if you’re anything like me, you need to approach your ED as an ongoing battle. Once you reach a healthy spot, the battles are not as overwhelming or scary as before. You even get used to it. But it’s a daily struggle to deal with, just like any other mental illness.

Please don’t let this deter you away from recovery. Your ED will probably convince you that if you can’t completely get rid of it, what’s the point in trying? Because once you regain control, life is fantastic. Because you are strong enough to take charge and are worthy of a healthy life. All of the effort put toward recovery is so worth it. You’ll be so thankful you made that choice for yourself. No matter how many people plead with you to change, not until you consciously make that decision for yourself will you ever regain wellness.

In the long-term, complete recovery might mean knowing what coping mechanisms work best for you and what triggers to be aware of. For me, veganism has been a tremendous benefit to every aspect of my life. Actively changing my perspective on my body and fashion has also helped, looking behind numbers and sizes. Most likely, you’ll still have moments of weakness. Some situations will still be difficult. Eating around others is still slightly intimidating. I still catch myself looking in the mirror or at my body longer than I should. The thought and act of gaining weight still freaks me out. But I can’t beat myself up for these instincts. I can’t expect my entire mentality to change in just a few months.

And I still have triggers, and those still scare the heck out of me. I’ve been through relapse, and it’s one of the worst feelings I can imagine. It’s painful knowing exactly what you’re doing is wrong and unhealthy, but you still do it. You still revert back to that false sense of comfort. But as I’ve gotten to know myself better, I can better identify moments where I start panicking from “losing control.”

But when you nourish your body and mind, when you take care of yourself, the fight is much easier. Yes, there are up’s and down’s, just like anything else. The difference now is that you have the knowledge and motivation to tackle any obstacle in your path. You have the healthy foundation to support you, and you have the tools to use. Life is never a stagnant point; it’s constantly changing and moving forward. Don’t expect the best moments to last forever, but also don’t expect to dwell in the bad moments. We have our weaknesses. Food and exercise might never be as effortless as you’d like. Any possible moment, you could fall into temptation. But now that you know what true health feels like, do you really want to? You know how proud your loved ones are of you for your progress, do you really want them worrying again?

If you’re in a difficult spot right now, remember how strong you are. Remember how far you’ve come. You have so much to be thankful for. You are so much more than the food on your plate and the number on the scale. Wellness comes from within. Even if ED holds a permanent residence in your  mind, you’re still in charge. (You’re basically your brain’s landlord. The true, healthy side of you.) You have the final say. Trust me, if you believe better days are ahead, they’ll soon arrive.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie



What Election?

I’m disappointed in myself. But I don’t necessarily blame myself.

November is quickly approaching, as is the the next election. A presidential election, at that. Not only that, but this is the first election I’m voting for a president. I’m someone that usually gets way too excited about voting and how important it is, but right now? I’m a little indifferent right now. Mostly because the results are pretty self-explanatory and I honestly don’t care.

Since we’ve glorified the upcoming election and all of the colorful characters involved, it feels like this election cycle has lasted for years. But it’s not covering any important issues. It’s basically covering a reality TV show. The candidates might as well be the next Kardashians.

We all know how I feel about Bernie Sanders. The Sanders 2016 sticker is still in the back of my car. While in the back of my head, I knew he wasn’t going to be a final nominee, but he gave me hope that I have someone genuine to support, someone that is speaking for everybody. The two people we’re left with? Not so much.

So many people assume that Sanders was simply the cool choice for millennials to stand behind when they aren’t that knowledgeable about politics. Admittedly he does make a fair share of killer memes. But that’s beside the point. I am someone who supports Sanders for his beliefs and message. We need somebody who is down to earth, who is looking out for every single person, who isn’t afraid to push for very progressive policies because that’s what we need. We need forward thinking people who will lead us to a brighter future rather than a stand-in candidate that is either fairly stagnant or goes backwards.

I want to like Hillary, I really do. I dig Bill. But we all know how hard she tries to be hip and relatable. Did you know she started a podcast? Yeah, that’s a little too far. You can’t fake being relatable: you are or you aren’t. She’s a decent politician, but certainly not perfect with the email scandal. And I don’t want to feel like I should like her more since she’s a woman. Super admirable, but even as a feminist, that doesn’t change how I see her as a person. In my opinion, that what feminism is: not setting women to another level simply because she’s a person with more estrogen. I will view her as an equal to men, but even then, she doesn’t fit the bill for me.

Even with my hesitation, I’ll end up voting for her because we all know the alternative. Need I mention the name? He’s basically in the headlines every day for every random instance. I still can’t get over the fact he went on Dr. Oz’s show. One question: Why? I understand people who really don’t like Hillary don’t want to vote for her, but do these people realize she is the lesser of two evils here? Not necessarily evils, they’re all just people, but still.

What makes me the most frustrated about the whole situation is that people, especially younger generations, will probably not go to the polls in November with the choices we’re left with. We’re throwing our democratic rights and responsibilities away. We still need t go and vote for the most deserving candidate. The power is truly in our hands. It’s hard to use that power when we’re sitting at home wishing for better choices. We’ve been given these choices, and we have to work with them and do what’s right.

I also think it’s funny to add that I plan to be in Canada next semester which just so happens to begin before the new president assumes his or her office. I’m literally escaping to Canada for a few months. Which I’m perfectly okay with, especially with somebody like Justin Trudeau in charge. I cannot rave about that man enough. People joke of running off to Canada to avoid a potentially dreadful president, but you can’t just run away from your problems. You have to face them. Thanks, Mother Abbess.

So these next four years might not be the best few out there. Who knows, maybe the next president will blow America away with new insight and ideas. We have to give them a chance. We can’t pull another eight years of half of Americans hating Obama and everything he stands for to singing his praises months before leaving office. Whoever becomes the next president needs support every step of the way. I’m not putting their sticker in my car, but I’m not going to bash them every chance I get. They’ll have enough people from either side of the aisle doubting them from day one.

If anything, let’s take this year’s presidential election as a lesson, or at least a potential outlook for future elections. We can’t let the glorified drama get in the way of the important issues at hand.

And if you were wondering, yes, Michelle Obama should definitely run for president. That woman is a force to be reckoned with.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie