This I Believe

Chelsea - Littleton, Colorado
Entered on November 21, 2006

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” I agree with this statement by Helen Keller. She is saying that if life never had times of difficulty, which is something that everyone wishes, there would not be the great people and leaders that there are. It is the hard times in life that shape people, and the challenges that refine a person to excellence. When we are at our weakest points it plays to our advantage, for we become stronger after we have persevered. Hardships and difficulties are always present; it is how a person reacts and responds to those trials that shape their character. Therefore the wish, life always be easy, is flawed. It is good to walk through hardships, for when we come through them with the right attitude our character becomes one that is stronger than we could have previously perceived.

One of my close friends has been struggling with anorexia over the past year. She states that her anorexia is caused from an accumulation of her low self-esteem, dissatisfaction with her body, and feelings of helplessness. She tells me she struggles with choosing to eat normally, which she sees as three meals a day, because she does not want to gain weight. She has a distorted body image and the idea that by not eating she will feel satisfied with punishing herself and will be more content with who she is. She described to me that to her, it has become something that she has identified herself with and something that continually speaks lies to her. I have been helping her through it by encouraging her, listening to her, and most of all loving her through it. I believe that her recent change of attitude toward her eating disorder has helped her immensely. In the beginning, she responded to the eating disorder by being confused, depressed, and hurt, but she did nothing to stop or prevent the action of not eating. She became involved in an endless cycle: she did not eat because she did not want to gain weight, which led to guilty feelings because she knew she had made a wrong decision. In order to punish herself, she would skip a meal, and then another, and another. She was trapped in this constant cycle. Her new attitude, although it has some of the same emotions, it includes hope, and the desire to be healed of this disease. With this response to her present situation she has made a lot of progress toward recovery and eating three meals a day. From the outside, I don’t understand all what she is going through, including the physical pains of hunger, or the desire not to eat, nor do I understand her thought processes that fuel her actions, but I do see the results of her attitude and of her efforts or lack thereof. When she responds in a hopeful way to her thoughts and emotions she strives harder and opposes the temptation of not eating in stronger way. On the other hand, when she is depressed or reacts to her feelings negatively she becomes caught up in the hurtful cycle of the eating disorder. What she does not understand is how strong she will become when she is victorious over these rough times in her life and all of the opportunities it will bring for her to help others because of her experience. She has already grown and matured while dealing with this eating disorder and will continue to. It is obvious how good this challenging time in her life is because it is making her character stronger.

I believe that my friend having to go through this trial of anorexia is shaping and refining her to becoming a more excellent person. This is her greatest weakness right now, but I believe that the experiential knowledge she gains from it will soon transform to be her greatest strength. I believe that the more she grows to have the right outlook, the faster she will get through this and the more she will gain from it. When she perseveres she will further understand the power of attitude and the power of hardships. It is hard to be a good friend to someone who is dealing with anorexia, but I know that in the future we will both look back and see the positive results this hardship has brought.