This I Believe

Natalie - Columbus, Ohio
Entered on November 17, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in individuality.

My belief in individuality comes from a long history of wanting to blend in with the crowd. It comes from being afraid to be unique and from not knowing the true beauty that lies inside each and every one of us. My belief in individuality gives me the strength to be myself and love who I am.

For eleven years I lived with an eating disorder. The disorder began from growing up being a tall, chunky kid. After years of being picked on and teased for my size I began to hate myself. By age 10 I was willing to do anything to change; including depriving myself of food for days and making myself sick too many times to count. I spent the majority of my time critiquing the way I looked, thought, spoke and acted. I was my own worst enemy.

I was always reminded that I am a nice person and have a good heart; but in the cruel days of middle school and high school, being nice does not always get you very far. Though I had friends and boyfriends, deep inside I always felt like an outcast. After years of being my own worst enemy, I started to believe that others viewed me the same way that I viewed myself; that something was wrong with me and that I needed to change. Feeling like I had nowhere to turn I continued to look to food, weight and exercising as a way to control how hurt and sad I felt inside. Slowly I was damaging my body, my mind and my spirit. Every time I binged or purged I was taking away a piece of the warm and loving person inside.

As I entered college I began to see how my eating disorder and obsession with changing myself was very quickly taking over my life. I needed to decide between suffering for the rest of my life trying to be someone I was never going to be, or accepting the person that I am. I had had enough. I was tired of living in a cage and being afraid to accept my individuality.

I believe the world is a canvas that we paint with who we are. The colors of our minds, bodies and souls are vibrant and beautiful. If everyone was the same there would be no picture on the canvas, just one solid color. I believe that our individuality is what makes the world go round. Letting go of my eating disorder and my fear of being different has opened a whole new chapter in my life. I accept and love who I am. I love all of the things about me, especially the things that make me different. After suffering for 11 years I realized that I believe in individuality. Even more importantly, I believe in me.