Not long ago, I fancied myself a regular Ann Landers. I decided my calling in life was to be an advice columnist—one who didn’t beat around the bush. I wanted to give people advice they were seeking (as opposed to the unsolicited advice I usually dole out to any person who has the misfortune of harbouring a relationship with me). So I wrote a post about it, sent out the call for people in need of my services, and waited…
…and as it turns out, people don’t really want advice from a twenty-two year-old without a college degree who can’t even bake a decent cake. I got a few questions out of pity, but none of them would change people’s lives like I’d intended (all I really want to do is change the world, you know).
Until…a few days after the post, I received an anonymous email from a reader who’d had a question weighing on her mind. I was so excited as I read her email—finally! Solicited advice! I would be able to answer a question for someone who really needed answers. I was going to be a hero. I would become a syndicated newspaper columnist and when I died, freeway interchanges would be named in honour of me: Archives of Our Lives Drive. It would take up two whole street signs. This was monumental.
I read the question once, and my excitement stalled—lurched like the baby blue stick shift Honda™ Civic I used to practice driving in the Mesa Cemetery during my high school days. I shook my head in befuddlement, and read the question again. After reading it a third time, I sighed, closed my laptop, and stared off into the distance.
It was a question for which I had no answer. None whatsoever.
Here it is:
I have a good life, by all societal standards. I have a husband and kids who love me, we are financially secure, and I am relatively happy. No matter how hard I try, though, I can’t stop obsessing about my weight. I worry about gaining weight all the time. If I eat too much, I constantly berate myself mentally, and feel guilty for overindulging. Then I work out double or triple the amount I normally would. No matter how much weight I lose, I am not satisfied. And when I gain it back, I become depressed and withdrawn. As a result, my self-image is constantly tied to my physical weight. I am not bulimic or anorexic, and would never harm my body by depriving myself of healthy, nutritional food, but I just can’t seem to forget about my weight and live my life. Any suggestions? I’ve already tried focusing on what is good in my life; serving others willingly; and realizing how blessed in life I truly am.
See, readers, even after reading this question twenty times, I could only think of one worthless solution for Fearful Fatty: Get over it. Of course that doesn’t help FF at all, but I don’t know any advice that will. I have never dealt with a problem like Fearful’s. Oh, sure, I have my insecurities—I have them by the boatloads. I have fat days/weeks/semesters/years; I have annoying times when I don’t look quite right in the outfit I had planned; I have moments of such self-loathing that I can’t remember a time I felt good about myself. But I always seem to get over it.
When I set weight-loss goals and achieve them…I’m happy. I don’t work myself to death trying to reach a never-ending, always-unattainable ideal. I can only imagine that Fearful Fatty is also the kind of person who lives in a darling house—you know the kind—decorated to a T, always spotless…but is never content with the way things look. If my assessment is correct, Fearful Fatty is restless to a fault. There is a fine line between striving for perfection and obsessing over it.
That was profound, even for me, so I’ll write it again:
There is a fine line between striving for perfection and obsessing over it.
And therein lies my problem, readers: I am not the sort of girl to obsess over perfection. Call it laziness and you’d probably be right (I’ve been diagnosed as LAZY since my childhood), but I have been blessed with the ability to stop. Enough is enough. I am good enough.
That’s not to say that I settle; rather, it’s just that I choose my battles.
For me, when a room is painted and pictures are hung with curtains framing the window…the room is finished. I might change the position of a chair every so often, or add a couple new throw pillows, but overall, I’m content. Done. Satisfied. Fearful Fatty, on the other hand, probably spends hours sewing adorable curtains for her living room, but hates them as soon as they’re hung. She’s probably changed her bathroom colour scheme three times in as many years. That is so not me, and quite frankly, I can’t relate.
Maybe Fearful Fatty tries too hard and I try too little. Maybe neither of us have achieved a perfect balance in our lives. Either way, I cannot come up with a solid bit of advice for poor Fearful Fatty.
So I’m seeking assistance for my anonymous friend. Can anybody out there in the vast e-world help me help her? Have you struggled with this, and overcome it? Are you dealing with it now? Or does this sound crazy to you, like it sort of does to me?
If I’m ever syndicated, I’ll send you a portion of my proceeds for your time.
Please and thank you.