I used to think as an adult I'd make mistakes less. I'm finding that not to be true. Instead, I daily see my tendency to slip into well-worn patterns. For example, I've shared here about my recovery from disordered eating. It's not that I've risen above the temptations and even dieting patterns completely, but I can catch myself when I find my way into an old frame of mind. I try to see these returns to old thinking as opportunities to practice curiosity. Some things I've asked myself recently are, Do I see myself as needing to eat a certain way to be "good," and am I trying to restrict my food out of fear?
There are times in life where we experience a lot of change, or some unpleasant emotions like anxiety, fear, or sadness. It is especially easy to target our bodies and micromanage our food in these seasons. It's easier to address something on the surface than to face deeper emotions. As I find myself in a season of change (starting a cooperative preschool program with my daughter and an immersive yoga teacher training), I find myself again lured by diet mentality and culture. It's a good practice for me, to remember that recovery and healing are lifelong and worthwhile pursuits, and that I cannot expect myself to be completely free of disordered eating patterns that used to dominate my life. My goal for myself is to be a normal eater, so that my life can be lived in light of my values (and not a life lived out of fear).
My body is changing in ways that are surprising to me. But it's not all bad. When I loosen up my judgment and cultural bias, I think it's more fascinating than anything. I see my face in the mirror when I look kind. And these days, I'm able to leave the house with little to no makeup on. (Something I swore I would never do.) I'm discovering what I like and what makes me feel comfortable. And I'm identifying the beauty in body diversity I see within my own city. As I critique myself or catch myself thinking some nonsense that I should look like I did at another life stage, I try to remind myself that I am not an object for the visual pleasure of others. My body is a vessel that carries me through this life and allows me to find meaning beyond the surface level.
For me, there may always be that lingering, perfectionistic voice that tells me that my body should match the cultural ideal. (And for the sake of the body positive community, I will add that I live in a small body, and do not face the judgment and challenges that others living in large bodies face. That is privilege, and I want to acknowledge it and the reality that there are other stories out there to be heard on this matter.) But when we stop living in light of what we think we should be, we inch our way towards acceptance of the body we have and the person we are now. And that — always — is the life I want to live.
Has anything surprised you about being your age? What is your favorite thing your body enables you to do? I'd love to hear.