Elysha's World

Elysha's World

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How Do You Define Yourself?

I had an interesting experience a few weeks ago. I met this cute guy and we ended up going out a few times. He was totally opposite of me, yet extremely similar at the same time. He liked to travel, be spontaneous, and live his dreams. He was easy to talk to, and we had a really great time. I was constantly laughing and there was no pressure. I thought that maybe it could go somewhere, but it didn’t end up working out.

At one point after dinner on a date, he looked at me and said, “You’re really skinny.” I thought, “Well thank you captain obvious.” I just kind of laughed it off, because this is something I’ve been told many times in my life. I’ve never known anything different, and so I said the usual, “Yes I am.” Then he leaned in a little closer, lowered his voice and asked, “You don’t have an eating disorder do you?” I was stunned, shocked, and slightly embarrassed all at the same time, not only for myself, but also for him. 

This wasn’t the first time someone had hinted at this question, but it was the first time some guy that I was actually interested in, and didn’t know that well, came right out and said it. Now, granted, this guy hadn’t known me for very long. He didn’t ask it in a rude way either, I think he really was just curious. We’d also only gone out to eat a few times, and he didn’t know that sometimes my roommate liked to affectionately tell me that I have the metabolism of a 15 year old boy. 

I tried to explain myself, but gave up fairly quickly and just told him that I didn’t have that problem. At the end of the date he said, “Take care of yourself. I’ll see you around.” Then, almost as an afterthought he said, “I’m sorry I pointed out your imperfections.” He left, that was our last date, and that was the last time I talked to him. 
This small sentence of 7 words has had me thinking about a lot of things for the past few weeks. It bothered me that he would call being thin an “imperfection.” That means that my whole life I’ve been imperfect, in an unfix-able way. Isn’t being thin what everyone is constantly talking about and wishing for? Sure no one points out that whenever you sit down there is absolutely no padding for yourself on a chair, most hugs feel a little empty, and when you fall there’s no padding there to catch you. It’s hard to find clothes that fit nicely, and you always have to hear people comment on how little you are.

I’d never thought of myself, especially not my body as having any imperfections. I’m made the way God wanted me to be made, I’m special, and I’m perfect. Whenever people have asked me if I could change one feature about myself, what would it be? I’ve always said nothing, because I like the way I look and feel. When I first had my gallbladder out, I was nervous that I would look ugly because of the four new scars on my stomach, but I’ve learned to love them as well. It shows a history of where I’ve been, and what I’ve been through. Every scar and broken bone tells a story of who we are, how we changed, and how we healed. 

Sure I’ve been made fun of; in fact I’ve made fun of myself. One of my best memories of this was going on a middle school field trip for a few days with about 30 kids in my grade. We had two separate buses and I was on the bus with all of my friends. My friends wanted to play a card game, but couldn’t find a nice way to play it, because they needed to be able to lay down their cards, which is hard on a bus. One person who was trying to be funny said, “Elysha, why don’t you just bend over, and we’ll use you as a table.” So I replied, “Would you like me to bend over forward or backwards, it’s the same either way.” I was trying to be funny, but the faces on everyone around me was totally priceless, and totally worth it. No one ever mentioned using me as a table for them again.

We’re all different, we’re born different. We all start off similar, but some of us start our life at 2 pounds, and others at 12 pounds. We’re all sent here with different talents, abilities, and body shapes. Those are things that we can’t really change, but we can try to develop what we’ve been given and discover new things about ourselves.  We can work out, dance, learn to cook, learn to paint, or we can learn a new language. What we do with what we’re given is up to us.

Elder Russell M. Nelson said, "Meanwhile, brothers and sisters, let us do the best we can and try to improve each day. When our imperfections appear, we can keep trying to correct them. We can be more forgiving of flaws in ourselves and among those we love."
I may be skinny, but I have other qualities too. I started thinking about what other people think of me. When two people who both know me, run into each other (and I know they do), what do they say about me. What kind of descriptions would they use? Funny? Odd? Kind? Rude? Trustworthy? Generous? Smart? Hardworking? I’ve thought about the word “hardworking” a lot. What exactly does that mean? Do I fit that description, and if I don’t what would I have to do to get it? I actually ended up calling my mom and talking to her about it. I told her I didn’t think people would probably use that word to describe me, and I wouldn’t use that word to describe me. She told me that while she wouldn’t use that word to describe me, she knows that I work hard; I just go about doing it in a different way that better suits me, but also gets it done at the same time. What she could get done in 3 hours, I’ll get done in 6 at my own pace.

Instead of focusing on what I didn’t have, I started to focus on what I did have, and decided that the best description I’ve found is “True.” I like to think I’m the same person deep down that I’ve always been. That I stay true to my beliefs, my friends, my family, and my coworkers. I decided that it doesn’t really matter what others say or think, as long as I’m constantly doing my best, and being a good person that benefits society. 

There was a YouTube video that went out a while ago about  Lizzie Velasquez. If you click on her name, it'll link you to her TED talk. It's definitely worth the listen! She is a motivational speaker and has a unique look at life. She was once labeled, “The World’s Ugliest Woman.” I loved what she had to say in this Ted talk. She’s really inspiring, and I think we can all learn a lot from her and what she has to say. Her main question in this Ted talk is, “How do you define yourself?” I’d like to pose that same question. Take some time, and find those things that you love about yourself. Embrace yourself. Celebrate yourself. You’re worth it, and don’t let anyone tell you you’re not.