A LETTER TO MY TEENAGE SELF
Dear Young One,
I see that you are sometimes uncomfortable in your body. I see this because I’ve been there, too. I felt that way, once. It was a disconnected feeling, the the bewilderment when I looked down at my thighs, the vague disbelief that they were really mine, attached to me.
Over the years, I have learned a few things. (I have many more things to learn, and hopefully I have many more years to learn them). But I wanted to tell you some of them, in case no one ever does. It’s possible that no one ever will because there is an unspoken shame around daring to love our bodies. It’s seen as uncouth, flashy, and in poor taste. As though hating ourselves is polite. Humility is not found in self-loathing, but rather in the understanding of our unique gifts and the gracious acceptance of them, along with the gracious offering of our love and service to the world.
Here is what I know above all: Life is fucking short. You only get to be with your body for awhile. It’s not going to leave you until you leave it first. So you might as well start learning how to appreciate it–I love the stretch marks on my hips, the soft hairs on my belly, and the scar on my thumb. These things that I love about my body...I love them because they remind me of me, not necessarily because they’re “beautiful”.
We are what we eat. It doesn’t matter which way you slice it, food affects the body. Our bodies are always changing and shifting, but food alway affects us, no matter what else is going on. Do not use food (or deprivation of food) as a weapon to reform your body. This will only drain your spirit. Instead, be aware of what you are eating. Be aware of your heart beating, your blood flowing to every inch of your skin and bones. Think of what is replenishing for you. Look to nature for guidance. Eat plants. Plant will save you and sustain you, they will clean out your blood and strengthen your heart. Plants hold the magic. They always have. They still do. You can give up on diets and “cleanses,” especially reactionary ones. Those are a trick to make you feel in control. You aren’t in control. You are in life. Daily participation pays off.
Get in your body. You can exercise or move or whatever you want to do. Just bring awareness into your skin and bones and muscles. As you inhabit your body you will love it more. It’s inevitable.
Your body is all you have. Your body is a tool to help you live and love. You use it to give love, to receive love, to make love, to make art. It’s what gets you where you want to be and it is the main tool we use to communicate with each other. If you can love it, you can be loved.
If you can be loved, you’ve nailed it.
Welcome to planet earth.