ELFFF! Elf is on TV right now and I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend a chilly Sunday night just before Thanksgiving. I loveee Will Ferrell! He’s hilarious. And Zooey Deschanel’s voice may be one of the most beautiful I have ever heard. I don’t know why she bothers acting. This movie is the perfect way to kick off the holiday season every year…never gets old.

Technically I should be studying for an exam I have on Tuesday, but I made the executive decision not to study quite as hard as I did for my first two genetics exams. For this class, we have three exams (called “prelims” here) and a final exam. Out of the three prelims, each person’s lowest grade will be dropped. So the final grade of the lecture portion of the class depends on one’s highest two prelim grades and your final exam (oh, and the fourteen quizzes we’ve had throughout the semester in class). The first week after my concussion I wasn’t allowed to spend much time on school work, and the work I did get done was not high quality. I’ve had a lot of difficulty concentrating since then and know I’m nowhere near as prepared as I was for the last two exams. I did very well on those exams, so I know that this exam – regardless if I killed myself studying or not – will be the exam that gets dropped from my grade. Even though I feel guilty for “giving up” on doing well on the exam, I know it’s not essential or necessary. This exam won’t have any effect on my grade, and so it makes more sense for me to get other work done and not get stressed out.

Yes, I needed to write that all out to convince myself I’m making the right decision. I am a perfectionist, after all, so letting any exam go in this way is just so….wrong. But when I look at the reasoning, it is logical. More logical than me cramming for an exam that won’t have any impact whatsoever on my grade in the class. Righttttt? Right.

I need to learn to let things go.

Anyway, on her blog “Eat Live Run” today Jenna wrote about being thankful and mentioned a quote from her yoga instructors that really hit home with me:

“How you do anything is how you do everything.”

I think this quote could potentially become my new motto/mantra/what-have-you because it really says it all…without saying it all. Recovery for me has always been a self-motivated process. Before I realized I had an eating disorder, people did make comments about my weight/the strange habits I had around food. Some people even went as far as to say it was an eating disorder. But once I chose recovery – once I realized how miserable I was, how hungry I was, how much I had lost in the space of a few months, emotionally and physically – it was me, myself and I. I didn’t have someone preparing my meals and sitting with me at the dinner table to make sure I didn’t throw anything out. There were threats, yes, from my therapist and nutritionist about partial hospitalization and being sent to be evaluated for depression medication, but I knew deep down that those decisions were also my own. Each decision has been made solely by me; each step forward has had to come from internal motivation.

In the past, I’ve always excelled when presented with external motivation. I excelled more when I was scared of letting someone else down than when I wanted to do something myself. I hit for the cycle in a high school softball playoff game once, driving in five runs for our team – and I did this because during my first at-bat, I was nervous and timid and didn’t swing at two strikes, prompting my coach to scream at me “What are you doing?! Comeee ONNN!” The next pitch I hit out of the park for a two-run home run.

The same motivation issue has applied to every athletic and academic situation I can think of in my past. Fortunately, I’ve learned over time to motivate myself internally for tests and other things. This was a very hard lesson to learn, but has helped me become more self-sufficient. Without learning how to motivate myself, I never would have recovered from an admittedly awful fall semester freshman year to have the decent GPA I have now. I never would have stayed pre-med; I may have given up that dream a long time ago.

Without the ability to motivate myself, I never would have come so far in recovery. I prepare my own meals without someone checking on me. Yes, I see a nutritionist and therapist every week and would not have been able to do it without their support. Yes, I have friends that know about my eating disorder and who I can talk to when I need to. But I think one of things no one tells you about recovery is – you are the one that has to do the work. You have to be brave enough to reach out to a friend (even when you are afraid you’re going to bother them for the thousandth time – yes, this always crosses my mind before I broach the topic with a friend). You have to be strong enough to admit something embarrassing to your therapist or to admit you had a “bad week” to your nutritionist. It would be much easier to hide the truth rather than talking about the hard stuff…but where would that get you?

It hasn’t been easy going to my campus health center on average twice a week over the last (almost) year. It hasn’t been easy to keep those commitments, to make that choice every single day to face up to what I’ve been doing, to who I’ve become. It’s not easy to say to my nutritionist “Yes, I restricted, and this is exactly what I did and why I did it.” It’s not easy to say to my therapist “I feel guilty/ashamed/mad/scared about this/that/the other thing, and this is why.” And though I do laugh about this – it’s not easy to be such a frequent flyer at the campus health center that the nurses know your name and tell you that you live there.

I’ve had a few different mantras throughout my recovery, but none truly felt “right” and I would inevitably let each one go after a few days. This time, I think I’ve found one that’s going to stick. Like I said above, it says so much in so little words.

I think this quote is saying…you can’t live one part of your life being true to yourself and have the other parts be out of balance.  I can’t be true to myself and my passions by trying to do well in school and swimming while depriving myself of proper nutrition. I can’t grow as a person, be the good daughter and friend that I want to be while carrying an eating disorder. I can’t be compassionate and unselfish while holding on to an illness. I need to be the best I can be and maintain balance in my life, while remembering that being the best I can be is NOT being perfect. It is merely trying to be the best person I can be in each situation I find myself in – be it writing a paper, interacting with a friend or stranger, interviewing for a job or being injured during my team’s first home swim meet. It’s not about the outcome of a situation (what I tangibly will achieve) – it’s about what I learn, what I give, and what I do.

One last thought: Maybe the road to self-love and self-acceptance is to turn my attention and energy outward rather than inward.

Hope everyone is going well and getting ready to enjoy Thanksgiving!

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One Response to Motivation

  1. Sarah says:

    You are such a beautiful person. Everytime I read your words you teach me something new.
    I LOVE how you pointed out that doing the best we can does not mean we are doing perfectly. That is so very very true! So many times, especially in school, I work myself to death preparing for exams and writing essays…I end up getting so tired in the middle of editing papers that sometimes I end up only making more problems for me to edit later! When I’m doing this insane amount of work it’s because I’m trying to be perfect. I’ve accepted that my best isn’t good enough for me so I decide that I must push myself to the brink in order to be perfect.
    It’s important for us to learn how to be okay with our best. If our best gives us B’s in school than that’s good enough! Everyone’s best effort will look different, so comparing our accomplishments to someone else’s is really quite pointless.
    Great post Kim! : )

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