In Which I Experience the Slap-in-the-Face Realisation that I Don’t Know Everything.

q&a

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 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:

Dear Camille,

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  And when I gain it back, I become depressed and withdrawn.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.

Hopefully,

Fearful Fatty

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.

Corner of House

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.

About Camille

I'm Camille. I have a butt-chin. I live in Canada. I was born in Arizona. I like Diet Dr. Pepper. Hello. You can find me on Twitter @archiveslives, Facebook at facebook.com/archivesofourlives, instagram at ArchivesLives, and elsewhere.
This entry was posted in ask me anything, do what I say, failures, mediocrity and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to In Which I Experience the Slap-in-the-Face Realisation that I Don’t Know Everything.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Mill,

    No offense to you or your reader(s), but it sounds like FF is seriously insecure. I’m going to have to agree with you on this one. She just needs to get over it. Sorry, FF, if I offended you. I’m sure you’re a very nice person with whom I would love to hang out, as long as we don’t go out to eat anywhere.

  2. DeAnna says:

    Unfortunately I think every woman goes thru that sense of insecurity at one point or another. Really and truly the only answer is for FF to learn to love herself and find her healthy self & let go of those insecurities. Now having said that I was overweight in highschool, not a ton overweight, but enough that I was mocked for the size of my derriere. I was pretty active and had a lot of insecurities about my body and who I was. It took me graduating, going to college, getting married and a whole LOT of work to get to a point where I liked who I was and to a healthier me. The work involved a lot of soul searching, journal writing, prayer and time outs for myself. I’m not going to lie, it is still a daily struggle some days. If FF can’t find a way to overcome this insecurity by herself than seeking the help of a good friend or counselor is always a great idea. Having someone to support you and just to talk to really helps.

    I understand to some people that insecurities are so simple to get over and don’t ever become a problem. Really, judging someone because of their inability to get over an insecurity isn’t positive and really makes that person feel worse about their situation. Having been in FF’s shoes I feel her pain, but I know there is a light at the end of that tunnel to a happier life that is healthy and not focused on her weight. Can’t wait to read some more responses to this post!!

  3. Anon. says:

    I’m sorry but you are ridiculous. How can you actually insult someone who asked you a question that you asked people to ask!? How can you assume so much about someone from one honest problem they asked about? So judgmental. See how at least Mill commented above apologizing for possibly offending, which I’m sure did, FF? You are so rude & I have no desire to even follow you anymore. You may be trying to be witty, but you are trying way too hard.
    You were completely correct in the realization that no one wants advice from a 22 year old with no college degree, children or EMPATHY.
    wow.

  4. anonymous says:

    Umm… Wow yourself, anon. You seriously need to get over yourself. Did you even read the post? Did you??? Apparently you just read the bolded parts. That’s the only plausible explanation I can conceive for your irrational, unabated tirade. Camille was not telling FF to get over it. She was saying that for her that’s the only advice she could give FF because she has a different personality than she does, and cannot conceive feeling like FF. Hence the call to the rest of her readers for advice. She wasn’t callously telling her to get over it– thereby insulting her–as you claimed. She was saying she doesn’t know how to answer the question completely, and thus asked the rest of her readers to help out. And how do you know that Camille doesn’t personally know FF, and therefore is not assuming? Perhaps you should think before you lash out. It sounds to me like FF isn’t the only one with some serious insecurities.

    Oh, and for the record I hope you do stop following AoOL. You’re obviously too ignorant to grasp the satirical/self-deprecating wit and humor written here. Good riddance.

  5. Geneva says:

    Camille, you’ve ruffled some feathers! Good job! I don’t know what to do for FF either. There isn’t a perfect solution. But I’d start by getting rid of the scale and working on some positive self-talk. There is no secret ingredient to confidence. It seems like she’s trying the right things. Someone to talk to always helped me. I remember in high school looking in my sister’s mirror and hopelessly exclaiming that I was a fat ugly cow. She put her hand on my shoulder and told me, “no, you’re a very cute cow.” It cracked me up and made me realizing I was being a little crazy. I think every woman goes through it periodically. Good luck FF! You can do it!

  6. Alicia says:

    The way I see it, the root of the problem is unhappiness. Whenever someone it thinking of themselves, they won’t be happy. Granted, you need to take good care of yourself, but after that, it’s time to put all of that energy into serving others. When all those sad, unhappy thoughts come in, work on something for someone else. It’s always helped me with my depression. The problem is, when you’re too depressed, you don’t have the energy to give love to others, but it’s been my only solution.

    And we all have body issues, don’t we? It takes time to learn to love that body, but it comes.

  7. Dutch girl says:

    Hello “Anon”..funny… I think YOU are the one who is being judgmental. But I guess you’re not smart enough to see that.. have you got a college degree? ;-)
    I can completely relate to Camille (my two best friends have body issues and I have none whatsoever): she feels bad for FF feeling bad (that’s called empathy, Anon) and for not knowing what to say or do to help her. So she asks others. That is nice, and it works: some people already gave good advice.
    I didn’t read anything that was rude or insulting.
    So Anon, I think you should follow MJ’s (when are they finally going to bury the poor soul?) advice: start with the (wo)man in the mirror…

  8. Katie says:

    This post struck a chord with me, as I struggled with similar issues in college. I felt compelled to give my two cents, for whatever it’s worth.
    FF stated that she is not anorexic or bulimic, and neither was I, but my therapist diagnosed me with a lesser-known illness: exercise bulimia. I, like FF, would work out compulsively to “make up for” my food indulgences. Whenever I ate something fatty or greasy, I would calculate how many miles it would take to “undo the damage”. This is a form of bulimia: instead of throwing up, I ran. This is a serious issue, not someone just being a perfectionist. It is a difficult thing to explain to those who do not have an eating disorder, so I strongly encourage FF to see a therapist or nutritionist. My therapist was also trained in nutrition, and she helped me realize how my thoughts about food and body were misplaced. I completely understand FF when she says that she becomes depressed and withdrawn: I was not completely myself until I healed from the exercise bulimia. I still struggle every now and then, but I have learned, through many years, that my worth comes not from what I look like or how in-shape or healthy I am, but from who I am. I am praying that FF is able to come to the same realization.

  9. Jenn says:

    Reading FF’s letter made me feel really sad for women everywhere. I specifically remember the time in my life when I went from eating whatever I wanted and not thinking about (although it was healthy eating) to becoming the person I am today who feels bad when she doesn’t exercise and doesn’t eat well. Although, I am lazy, so I continue to eat badly and not exercise as much as I used to. But, my point is, it’s so weird seeing the point in my life when I began to put guilt on myself for things like eating too much and not exercising enough. I think it came when I became friends with someone who had this issue already. Maybe she got it from her mom, who knows? But I see it as my innocence being lost, and it makes me sad. Therefore, I vow to never say anything in front of my (currently un-born and un-conceived) children along the lines of:
    I’m fat
    If I eat this I am going to gain 10 lbs
    and so on.
    I want to instill in my children a sense of worth that is not tied to weight. All the while, giving them the tools they need to make healthy eating decisions.

    So, I guess my advice to FF would be to use her kids as her motivation. Think of the positive influence you will have on them if you are able to relax and not make yourself feel guilty all the time. You don’t want them to grow up and follow in your footsteps do you?

    Good Luck to you!

  10. Joel says:

    Huh…….

    (Don’t quite know what to say about all this.)

  11. Chloe says:

    Wow. I don’t know what to say… Unfortunately, I don’t have any advice for FF…
    But I have a message for Anon: YOU don’t have empathy. Camille didn’t insult FF. But YOU did insult Camille and all her readers.

  12. Maureen says:

    I agree with Katie who commented above. Anorexia and bulimia are not the only kinds of eating disorders. They come in many forms. I had a friend who would eat but was just very very particular about it. To the point where it wasn’t healthy.

    Personally, I think FF needs to seek professional help, possibly from a variety of different venues. She needs to go to a doctor to get her weight and, more importantly, BMI tested. Perhaps if someone with an MD tells her that she is within a healthy weight range for her body type, she will be more likely to believe it. If she is not, she might consider seeing a dietitian to help her manage her weight and monitor her progress. I think that honest, positive reinforcement from other people is really important to both physical and mental health.

    Good luck, FF!

  13. raygon says:

    You might be reading too much into her plea for help. She did admit to having a problem, and you tacked a bunch of other stuff to it. Be careful what you assume about people.

  14. Bernie says:

    I am horrified to read how you would “answer” a question like that. How do you know anything about this person? Why do you think you know her just from the question that has nothing to do with painting walls or curtains? Did it ever occur to you that maybe people who like to rearrange their house don’t have weight problems? I have struggled with self-esteem issues myself, especially with weight I am not the person you described and I think you owe FF an apology.

  15. Emily says:

    I am glad Katie mentioned exercise bulimia (or nonpurging-type bulimia). That compensatory behavior is very psychologically damaging and a therapist could help her. Most of the time, women with eating disorders are deceived about how they look and have a distorted perception of their own weight. My guess is that she knows her own BMI and thinks it is not good enough. I do have a degree (in psychology) and my best advice for her is to go to a therapist.

    This also reminds me of my favorite quote:
    “Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.”
    -Harriet Braiker

  16. I used to think I knew a lot. Then I got married and now I don’t think I know anything. I find myself saying “I don’t know” more often than not. So often you think you can handle anything that is thrown at you, but admitting that you can’t is good. We don’t want to think that you are a know it all and it is refreshing that you are humble enough to admit it.

  17. Christal says:

    wow camille good job i got what you were saying but obviously so people didn’t. I love the way you write! hope your having a great week!!

  18. RatalieNose says:

    Camille, I’m not gonna lie, I’m bummed. I was looking forward to an answer to my question!!
    This was profound.
    The only suggestion I can come up with is this:
    Remember that you are a Daughter of God. He’ll help you.
    Pray about it.

  19. Oh dear…

    I relate to FF 100%. Actually, 95%, because I don’t have kids in the picture, and because sometimes I just decide not to exercise at all since there’s ‘no hope’. But all the rest describes me exactly. It’s a constant struggle and I hate it.

    Anyone know a good nutritionist in AZ? : )

  20. lauren says:

    I will have a longer response later, but I am running out the door.

    I just want to say to FF…I know EXACTLY how you feel .That is me every second of the day. People can tell me all day they think I am skinny and all I see is fat. I eat right and I exercise…but I can’t shake this feeling. Hang in there girl…I know how you feel.

    BTW…I love my life, everyone. I absolutely love it. Unhappiness isn’t what this stems from…because I am perfectly in love with my life.

  21. DeAnna says:

    A little clarification, Camille you weren’t the judgemental one I was hinting at, the anon. person who commented above me and a little ways below me was! Like wow does that person lack empathy! There really are people who don’t have that many insecurities and really just don’t get how you can not be happy with who you are.

    I really don’t think you (Camille) were judgemental at all, I think you were simply asking other’s for advice to a question you didn’t fully know how to answer & at the same time explaining why you didn’t know how to answer it.

    Definately a great post that really got your reader’s talking!

  22. anna says:

    Wow, as I was reading this post I never would’ve imagined so much drama would ensue in the comments. Simmer down people, simmer down!

    Now for our friend FF… Obviously we all have very different personalities, but certain personalities have many of the same characteristics. My personality is such that I want perfection and until I get that, I am not content. This is certainly a double-edged sword. I am motivated, I am ambitious and I have a lot of drive. However, I am also very critical and have a hard time feeling good about accomplishments because I only see the perfect results I wanted. It doesn’t matter how much cleaner my house is, if it’s not all the way clean, I have a hard time being grateful for the improvement. It’s like this with finances, work, relationships, etc. I know this isn’t healthy and I’ve really tried to work on it (especially with a little one, the last thing I want her to feel is pressure to be perfect). However, this way of thinking definitely trickles over to weight as well. I have never been heavy (well, except when I was nine months pregnant), but I’ve always thought I could be skinnier. I’ve never seen someone that I’ve thought was “too skinny”. I eat healthy and am active (although I don’t do much “formal” exercise, if you want to call it that), but I could look emaciated (which I don’t) and still want to lose weight. Obviously that’s not healthy, so I have found a happy medium between health and my perception. I think a lot of it is a mental game and training yourself to be content with what you have. I’m not saying this is easy, but I also don’t know that a therapist is necessary… seems a little extreme. Focus on the good qualities. Focus on how you feel (physically), not just how you look. Focus on enjoying life. And at the end of the day, tell yourself you are okay with how you look.

    (Obviously I like parenthesis… )

  23. Blog readers: The whole purpose of a blog like mine and Camille’s is to write what they think. If people are offended, well, sorry. That’s part of the territory. It’s an opinion blog. The reason why Camille’s blog is so successful is that she doesn’t hold anything back. And isn’t that why we love Camille? If you have a problem with it, maybe you should think about reading another blog. Clearly, you don’t understand the purpose of this one. Even if you don’t agree, remember, this is Camille’s blog. You wanna bitch, rant, moan and share your opinion? Start your own.

  24. Whitney says:

    Girl.. you stirred up some controversy. Some people are so touchy. Your post was excellent. Unfortunately for FF I have never been in her situation. WE can be so critical of ourselves that sometimes it completely takes over our lives. We need to stop and be thankful for what we have instead of what we dont. I only hope FF realizes that she doesnt have to be skinny. It is so sad that our society has engrained in our brains that everyone has to be paper thin to be beautiful. I know plenty of NORMAL woman who are healthy and they look great. Sure they have hips and a butt and a few “special” areas but who cares! They are gorgeous human beings. I personally think curves and special areas are beautiful. I wish I had more.

  25. Carly says:

    ok…i read the WHOLE post, word from word before I read any comments, then I read the comments. I have a college degree and 3 kids. Now…
    I think that you should not have said GET OVER IT. There are plenty of kinder ways to say “you should love who you are and if not work hard and choose to be happy” If you were trying to be witty or smart it just came across harsh. I don’t understand why everyone is so mad at anom when she was sticking up for FF who felt comfortable to ask a personal question.
    I can tell you this, I don’t think you will be asked for advice in the future after this. I wouldn’t.

    p.s. I think you made this up for drama effect

  26. kayleen says:

    (these comments are really funny)

    i wonder how many men sit around berating themselves about body image issues? us women have it rough. we’re way too hard on ourselves and the personal advice i give myself when i start obsessing over a few extra pounds here or there is to be more like a man. it is what it is. no more whining. (totally helpful, i know.)

  27. Holly Decker says:

    gosh, who needs comments from little ol’ me when you have comments like THESE, camille? its been forever since you have rattled up so much fist flyin’… how exciting for you ;)

    hope all is well, and just so ya know- i did not die, my blog WILL come back to life- as soon as my company leaves…

  28. Fearful Fatty (for reals) says:

    Well, thanks for all the comments, guys. A few bits of FYI: I was not in the least offended by Camille’s advice of “Get over it.” Carly: She absolutely did not make this up. If you know Camille at all, you’ll know that she seriously cannot comprehend this situation, and therefore could not make something like this up. What’s more, she’s not a liar. I am a real person, and for you to question my existence is insulting. If you seriously don’t believe I’m real, e-mail Camille and she’ll give you my e-mail address. I’d be happy to have a few chats with you via e-mail. Anon.: I was not offended in the least. Unlike you, I know Camille well, and I understood what she meant when she said, “Get over it.” She wasn’t trying to hurt my feelings. Perhaps she should have been a bit more careful in her word choice for those who don’t know her as well; for me, it wasn’t an issue because I know her and her writing style. I’ve been reading AoOL long enough to be able to “hear,” if you will, Camille’s writing tone. This post was not meant to offend in the least, and it certainly wasn’t meant to alienate or criticize me. And for the record, anon., Camille has been to my house, and she knows what it’s like. She wasn’t assuming when she said all those things about it.

    To everyone else: Thanks for your advice. I’m certainly going to have to think about it. After reading all the comments, it sounds like what you all said, ironically enough, was to get over it, however I can. Your words may have been a bit different than Camille’s, but the message was pretty much the same. And I’m going to work on doing that. It seems so silly and trite now that I see it in writing. Thanks for the pointers.

    And for heaven’s sake, leave poor Camille alone. She really was just trying to help. We’re going to have to start calling HER Poor Camille if all these mean commenters keep acting up.

  29. Pingback: Huh. Well, I guess that settles that. | Archives of Our Lives

  30. ann marie says:

    I’m not going to comment about the whole drama, but if that is your living room–it is super cute! Love the colors– and the door!

  31. Jethro says:

    HAH!! An AoOL kerfuffle i was NOT involved in! (I have a cold, too tired to read).
    Good one though. Now that FF has come out of the closet, nice muckraking, Ladies.
    The funny ‘getting over it’ part was sweet fodder. (Haha, recycled You again).
    Reminds me of an old joke i had with an old departed friend, we would laugh when we would casually use the phrase, ‘get over it’ towards another friend or two, and expand with ‘walk up to it, get over it, walk away from it’.
    Had to be there.

  32. Carmen says:

    Wow, that was a lot of comments. I wish I had the time to read them all. You should do a q&a more often. I shall try and think up a good one. Hmmm thinking already….

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