This is Part 4 of a 9 Part Series "I Am Not Defined By My Weight" inspired by Rachel Hollis' book "Girl, wash your face".
I AM NOT DEFINED BY MY WEIGHT – Part IV College
If you have kept up the series, you are amazing! If you haven’t, but would like to start at the beginning, feel free to check it out here.
What inspired the series “I Am Not Defined By My Weight” was Rachel Hollis’ book “Girl, wash your face”. The premise of the book was to uncover a bunch of hurtful lies Rachel believed and one truth that set her free. The part that inspired me was not about fad diets or loving every single flaw, but instead, about putting work into finding out why self-love was an issue in the first place (p. 183).
This meant I had to go way back, 20-something years, to hopefully find out the truth behind the struggle. In the first post, I discussed the Puerto Rican culture I grew up in and how that created an obsession with physical weight and appearance. Then, I covered those dreaded high school years and highlighted 6 things I wish I would have known. I had such little respect for myself that I was willing to be the other woman in a relationship. This lasted through my senior year of high school and well into my sophomore year in college.
The College Years
“Some things cannot be taught; they must be experienced. You never learn the most valuable lessons in life until you go through your own journey.”
― Roy T. Bennett
College is when things really got interesting. Remember, Paul was the guy who had another girlfriend and initially lied about it. When I finally knew the truth, I continued the relationship because I figured it was better to be the girl he cheated with than the girl he cheated on. At the time, I saw nothing wrong with our actions. My immature brain and heart believed that he really wanted to be with me but didn’t want to hurt the other girl. I thought that if I waited long enough, he would realize I was the better choice.
I needed to win.
I needed to be the girl he chose, especially since I had compromised who I was, to be who he wanted.
Hindsight is 20:20
In hindsight, I regret being that girl. I can't imagine the pain I helped create. I was so naïve and lost, nothing could help me see the truth. I had some friends who would try to talk to me, but it was always in a judging manner. It felt as if they stood on the moral high ground judging my actions and thinking I was stupid for believing Paul could be a good person.
It took way too long for me to realize I was worth more than being the "side piece". The straw that broke the camels back was when Paul broke up with his high-school sweetheart and started dating someone else. His excuse – long distance wouldn't work and my favorite—he didn't want to follow me in the military.
The light bulb finally clicked and I was over it. Done. Finito.
After Paul, I really started to define my self-worth by how many guys were interested in me. If someone hit on me, my self-esteem skyrocketed.
If a guy bought me a drink or took me out on a date, I felt like hot sh*t.
I "talked" to a couple of different guys throughout my college years. All very different yet always the same outcome. These guys did not want commitment. They wanted to reap all of the benefits of a relationship without any of the work and commitment.
I tried to trick myself into believing that I didn't want a commitment either. I didn't want to be tied down. I wanted to enjoy college. These were the mantras I held on to in order to keep myself together. I struggled with my identity so much, that it ruined friendships and left lasting scars that I am still dealing with to this day.
- Do not tie your self-worth to things of this world - When your worth is tied to the things of this world, then it is easily defeated. That leaves you unstable and dependent on things outside of your control. You cannot control how others see or feel for you but you can control how you see yourself and feel about yourself. When your worth is tied to your good morals and beliefs, you will be resilient despite the trials you will experience.
- Do not settle - Do not compromise your beliefs for the sake of a relationship. I was so hungry for a relationship, I settled for “talking” to guys even though my heart yearned for traditional boyfriend/girlfriend dating. There is nothing wrong with getting to know someone before committing to them, but there is a fine line between getting to know someone and getting all the benefits without any of the commitment. You are worth the commitment.
- Be a good friend- If you have a friend who has fallen into the same trap I described above, love on her. You might not be able to talk her into seeing her true value, but you can be the example she needs. Sometimes, a girl just needs a friend who is honest, loving, but turns her in the right direction.
Believer Not A Follower
Eventually, I decided to swear off all guys. College was just a hot mess of trying to figure out who would become my husband. It took multiple heartbreaks and hitting rock bottom for me to realize that maybe God just wanted me to be alone and figure out how to love myself first.
During this time, I believed that if my heart was in the right place and if I was a good person, then I was a good Christian as well. I believed in God but was not a follower. I didn’t even know there was a difference!*
I remember thinking that the next person I would date would be my husband. I also decided that I would start being honest with myself. I wanted a real relationship. I wanted the official title of “girlfriend” and the next guy would have to be okay with that.
What I didn’t realize was that I still struggled with how to love myself. I thought that making this commitment of honesty was enough, but it wasn’t. In order to have a healthy relationship, I would have to learn how to love myself. During these years, I did not love myself. I grew up learning I was chubby and that idea was reinforced throughout middle school and highschool. Then, when I started dating, guys also reinforced the notion that I was not enough. I attributed the lack of commitment and insensitive comments to my weight. I was too big to deserve better.
In some ways, ROTC also exacerbated the self-loath and made it really difficult to understand what a healthy relationship looked like. Not only did I believe I was unattractive and fat, I was reminded of it day in and day out for ROTC.
In the next post, I focus on my time in ROTC and how physical fitness/weight-loss affected my relationships and self-worth. It was during my senior year of college when I realized that I had tied my worth to my weight and it almost cost me my marriage.
* If you don’t know there is a difference between being a believer and a follower of Christ, don’t feel bad. I promise that I will dive more into that topic in the near future.*