I feel like I just got the hang of this whole “adulting” thing. Soon I’m going to be expected to do it FULL time after I graduate. I still feel like a kid. Sometimes I still wish I was a kid. My mom always reminds me of one time when I said to her, “Momma! I want to be 8 years old forever! I want to wear size 8 clothes forever! I want to be in the 4th grade forever!” Sometimes I wish I was still that little girl.
On the other hand though, growing up has been a blessing in disguise. I use the phrase “blessing in disguise” because, lemme tell ya, the process of growing up is not fun. Sure it has it’s fun parts. But, it has a lot of not so fun parts too. It is through those tough parts though that you truly discover who you are as a person. If it weren’t for my struggles, I would not be the person I am today.
Therefore, I present to you the top 4 things I have learned in my 4 years of college:
- PERFECTION IS A LIE-It just is. I was that kid in high school that made straight A’s, never got in trouble, and pretty much was your classic goody two shoes. I get to college and the first two years were fine. But then my last two years, when I got into more of my major classes, I was getting a lot of Bs, a few Cs, and the RARE A. Now I know what some of you are thinking-“It could be worse…” I know, but remember I was the “perfect” kid in high school. So coming to college and not doing so well was a lot for me to process. I was thinking “What the hell is wrong with me? These are not the grades that I’m supposed to get!” After a lot of turmoil and tears, I realized something very important. Was I any lazier now than when I was in high school? No. Was I not working harder than I was in high school? HELL no. If anything, I was working harder. So why was I beating myself up over a number or a letter? A letter or a number does not define how intelligent I am. I know how smart I am. When I apply for a job, employers don’t care if I got a C- in a class. All they care about is if I have a bachelor’s degree from Texas Christian University. Am I a genius? No. Never have been, never will be. I’m doing the best I can though. And you know what? I’m happy with my work. I know how much effort I put into things. My grades don’t always reflect my effort, but I’m done with grades defining me.
2. PEOPLE ARE PRETTY AWESOME-My friends at TCU rock. Some I’ve know since my freshman year and there’s some that I met this year. I have such a diverse group of friends, from all walks of life. Different states, countries, backgrounds….the list goes on and on. It’s amazing to think about how different we are, yet we care about each other in every way. Some of my favorite memories are with these people. Late night silliness, study “breaks”, deep conversations over coffee, weight room shenanigans, new experiences…..These people are have been my rock through the ups and downs of college. We’ve been there to encourage each other, comfort each other, laugh with (and sometimes at (lol)) each other. If I had decided to go to a school other than TCU, I would have never met these awesome people. To be honest, I don’t know what my life would be like without these crazy kids. They are truly such a blessing to me and I couldn’t be more thankful for the amazing friendships
3. ROCK YOUR BODY-The Marlee that entered TCU was in the thick of an eating disorder. She hated her body. She worked out because she wanted to look like other girls. She finally realized what she was doing to herself and decided to take control of her life. She came to realize that NO ONE’S body looks the same. Health is not cookie cutter. Now, I strive to rock my body. I workout to celebrate what my body can do. I LOVE seeing what it can do. I’m not a supermodel. I’ve got curves on my belly. My thighs touch. My face is round. I’ve got muscles and fat. I’m five feet tall. But you know what? I’m so GRATEFUL for this body. This body could have easily quit on me. BUT IT DIDN’T. It fought for my life. I’m strong as hell-physically and mentally. I could care less about what a number says on a scale.The only numbers I care about are the plates that I’m putting on a barbell. I don’t restrict what I eat. Why deprive yourself of what your body wants? Does your body want a salad? Do you have an immense craving for a pizza? Want a drink? Life’s too short to deprive and restrict ourselves. I’m not gonna sugar coat this by saying I don’t struggle any more. I still have days where I struggle because I’m human. Occasionally, I have bad body image days and those ED voices creep into my head. I feel a slight urge to restrict or to workout to “fix” something. But on those days I stop myself and remind myself of the girl I used to be. I WILL NEVER be that girl EVER again. I kinda like this Marlee WAY better than the old one.
4. UNAPOLOGETICALLY ME-My body isn’t the only thing that’s changed in the past 4 years. 18-year-old Marlee is completely the opposite of the 21-year-old I am today. I used to be so shy and insecure. I hated how emotional I was. I thought people thought I was weird. I kept to myself and didn’t talk to a lot of people. I was scared of what people would think if I showed them the real me. I was scared of myself. Slowly, I began coming out of my shell. Then sometime during my junior year I realized “Why do I care so much about what other people think of me? What do I think of me?” I realized that I have friends and family that love ME FOR ME. It was from then on I decided to embrace myself. ALL OF ME. The fight, emotions, quirks, strengths, weaknesses….just ME. I realized that if people can’t handle who I am, I don’t need them in my life. I realized there was nothing ever wrong with me. I’m an awesome daughter, sister, and friend. I’m not scared anymore. I’m not afraid to let people see me laughing one minute and then sobbing the next. I’m not afraid to show off my inner dork. I’m not afraid to start up a conversation with a stranger. When someone tells me I can’t do something, I’m not afraid to say “WATCH ME”. Now I smile more, laugh more, and enjoy life more since I’ve decided not to care what other people think of me. I want to be me and nobody else. Besides…being normal is boring.
Never in a million years did I think I would endure such a transformation. I’m a completely new person. In a weird way, if I had to go through all that struggle to become who I am today….I’d do it all over again. I believe all things happen for a reason. All that struggle, lessons, experiences…led me to this point today. Embrace your struggles. No one wakes up one morning and says “I’m gonna have an eating disorder today” or “I’m gonna be depressed today” or “I’m gonna worry about (blank) today”. NO ONE DOES THAT. The things we go through are supposed to teach us something. We have two choices in this situation: let it defeat us OR push through it and LEARN SOMETHING from it (pssst…I suggest you do the second option). When we learn something from a bad situation, it teaches us more about ourselves. And when we find out more and more about ourselves, we become more content with who we are.
I’m ready. Ready for the next chapter of this crazy thing called life. A part of me is anxious about it. But…the other part is curious about the future. I’ve made it this far, so why stop? I don’t know what’s in store for me, but I intend to find out.