Doubting yourself. Looking in the mirror and detesting the life you lead. Holding your head low, your posture slumped, evading the world. Self esteem melted into a mold of self doubt. This was me. I used to be the quintessential portrait of a pessimistic self conscious adolescent. I let other people’s assumptions of myself crawl and settle under my skin.
It was eighth grade when it started. I didn’t know at the time it had begun, but I had been put on an anorexia watch brought on by the fear that my naturally thin body wasn’t natural. The watch mandated by the school started out with a call to the nurse’s office for a “routine checkup”.
The “routine checkup” became a monthly thing and before I knew it, escalated to once a week. The scale became a familiar friend and foe. I knew every weight gain and loss, and tallied it as studiously as the nurse, trying to fathom the reason I was the one being called in and weighed. I’d agonize over the quizzical glances of the nurse. I wasn’t unobservant. I knew I was the only one whose name was frequented over teachers’ lips summoning me to the office.
The lunch room became mindboggling as well. The teachers began to watch me like a predator stalking their prey. Someone’s eyes would be searing a hole in me with their stare at all times. I’d been put under a microscope. I was a specimen they were inspecting, and I was determined to find out why.
Months upon months of the lunch room stares and the memorized path to the nurse’s office began to take a toll. My mirror became the enemy. Gazing at my figure, I began to dissect every part of me, disintegrating my self esteem in the process. My eyes found every flaw. My mouth rejected food hoping to make my weight stay the same to satisfy the nurse. My mind began to neglect school, searching every second for a way to cure what was wrong with me. I had to find what they found. I had to be perfect.
One day looking in the mirror with the sullen eyed and hollowed cheeked Kristen looking back at me, I was repulsed. I hadn’t fixed anything. I’d just made everything worse. How was this perfect? I wanted to smash the reflective glass and pin up a picture of who I was before. I might not have been perfect but it was better then who I’d become.
Learning I’d been put on anorexia watch worsened my mind set. I loathed myself for becoming what they’d falsely stereotyped me as. I wanted to yell at myself, but that would do nothing. Instead I worked on regaining what I’d lost: my self esteem. I realized through my taste of self destruction that I had to believe in myself. I learned the hard way that self esteem is the core of a person, and I doubt I’ll ever forget it.
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