A woman holding her legs as she sits at the edge of a river

It’s January 2020 and all you want to do is lose one more pound. You’re consumed by calorie counting and addicted to going to the gym on an empty stomach every morning before your first class. Your biggest problem is eating one too many handfuls of granola or putting too much dressing on your salad. 

What once began as an innocent attempt to live a “healthier” life—whatever that means—has spiraled.

Dear January me, you are so much more than a number on your roommate’s scale that you snuck in the bathroom to use when no one was watching. That extra helping of food won’t hurt you. Missing a day—or weeks—of gym time won’t make you any less than. In fact, the mental and physical rest that comes from giving up your disordered relationship with yourself will actually make you stronger and more resilient.

Dear January me, you are so much more than a number on your roommate’s scale.

Little do you know, but you’re about to be in a lockdown that will force you into a state of both struggle and healing. 

Not having a gym will be hard. Not being able to hide your unhealthy eating habits behind a busy college schedule will be difficult. The subliminal hatred you have for yourself will come unearthed from your subconscious and you’ll be forced to face it head on.

That January version of me doesn’t know what’s coming. She’s convinced that a calorie deficit and extreme exercise will be her life forever, that the fatigue that accompanies her unhealthy obsession with thinness will always consume her, but it won’t.

April and May me will teach you to overcome the insatiable desire to shrink. They’ll teach you to eat more, exercise less and to be grateful for a body that keeps you healthy during a pandemic.

April and May me will teach you to overcome the insatiable desire to shrink.

June and July me will teach you how to be on your own—single and independent of the boy you dated for a year and a half. You will slowly grow into yourself, and rediscover your love of poetry, art and books in the face of heartbreak. You will find a new fashion sense, one that is unapologetically you, after years of trying to dress to fit in with your sorority friends.

August, September and October me will focus on growth, finally addressing mental health and nutrition. This version of yourself will discover a love for weightlifting and strength, after suffering from an obsession with extreme fasted cardio. 

You will get physically strong, but also mentally strong. You will learn to exercise your ability to love yourself by treating yourself, checking in with yourself and focusing on the now—the present moment with your friends and family, instead of the foreboding future or past mistakes.

You will get physically strong, but also mentally strong. You will learn to exercise your ability to love yourself.

December me thanked the 2020 metamorphosis you endured. As you were introduced to each version of yourself, you learned more about yourself and got to know your mind and body a little bit better with each passing day. 

To the January version of myself, you are about to become so much more resilient than you know. Have grace and patience with yourself. Be gentle and kind to your mind and body. I can’t wait to see how you are in a year.

Knowing what you know now, if you could give yourself advice a year ago what would you say? What beauty is there in getting older and maturing?

Image via Joana S., Stylist Kelly E. Kardt, Makeup via Giulia, Model East West Models

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