Norman Vincent Peale said, "When God wants to send you a gift, he wraps it up in a problem. The bigger the gift that God wants to send you, the bigger the problem he wraps it up in."
With the holidays just around the corner, I can’t help but reflect on this preceding year and all that has come to pass. There have been many things I’ve wanted to accomplish and haven’t, there have been tasks I’ve hoped would work out but never did, and have had various efforts at relationships (platonic or otherwise) fall short. If I wanted to base my year solely on a tally of ‘yea/nay’ votes, undoubtedly I would have lost in a landslide.
However, I’ve come to believe that expectations, in any form, are one of the worst limiters someone places on themselves. For the most part, our expectations are rarely grasped in the exact context of what we see in our minds. This is especially true in the realm of recovery from eating disorders and illness/addictions of the like. Face it, we all have expectations. We have heard sayings like, “Don’t get your expectations too high because you’ll set yourself up for failure.” Give me a break. We are human and can’t help that we were made to dream, want something more, or crave a change in attitudes or beliefs. Dreaming is something that makes the world better for all of us.
Every day we are affected by something; family tragedy, illness, relationship troubles, career struggles, etc. Every day we have the opportunity to make choices that can and will often change our lives forever. Every now and then, the impact of certain moments turns our lives inside-out. We become passionate, driven, focused, and completely committed in making sure that others are kept from experiencing what we have. In these moments and times in our lives, we have the power and voice to influence others to find their own desire to change their circumstances. When you believe in something enough to turn your passion in to action you’ve the opportunity to be a catalyst in social change.
The question is, “Why do we as a society, and media-driven culture, refuse to acknowledge the fact that millions, yes MILLIONS, of individuals of all ages, ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, faiths, both genders, and sexual orientations suffer from illness’ that are preventable, treatable, and not something to be ashamed of?”
I’m tired of eating disorders being thought of as merely a 15 year-old Caucasian girl’s issue.
I’m tired of all ages being bullied into silence, beginning to believe they aren’t even worth the breath they take.
I’m tired of society as a whole (myself included) only realizing how important issues are only when affected personally.
I’m tired of the media not covering the stories of healthy, recovered individuals that can be a beacon of hope for those still stuck.
I’m tired of every news blip having to have that “shock and awe” factor to be considered “news.”
I’m tired of males being labeled, “gay” or “weak” if they struggle with body image or eating disorders. This label only adds to the anxiety and fear to come forward for help.
I’m tired of the statistics showing that 50,000 people will die in my lifetime as a result of an eating disorder.
I’m tired of seeing mothers and fathers cry-out for their sons and daughters, and having their pleading for direction fall on deaf ears.
I’m tired of our culture placing the blame on the individual for the disease, saying it is a “choice” and that it’s explicitly because of a need for attention or a self-absorbed mentality.
I’m tired of disordered-eating behaviors such as dieting in everyday life, sports, and excessive-exercise are deemed, “okay” in the eyes of nearly all people.
Mostly, though, I’m tired of not being heard.
As I mentioned earlier, reflecting on this past year shows that despite my ‘failures’ (defeated eating disorder legislation, missed opportunities for media-outreach, broken relationships, loss of friends without expressing how I felt, etc.) and being extremely tired from the exhaustive list outlined above, I’m still here. And that list is nothing but motivation, fueled first by anger and hurt, transformed into passion. Passion is what allows you to celebrate and enjoy the great things in life that you have, or are going to in the future, overcome.
Sure, I may only be able to count on one hand the “worthwhile” expectations or achievements from 2011; however, I know those may possibly create a spark and fuel the passion of those around me. People just like you and I who’ve faced difficulty and challenges that appeared unbeatable in our past, present, and unfortunately, maybe in our futures, have and can achieve the greatest revolutions in some of the darkest periods. Using your voice for something you become passionate about can help guide someone else who may be struggling with a life-changing or life-threatening situation similar to one you’ve experienced. Be compassionate, share you story and be sure to turn your passion, exhaustion, and frustration into action.