When I was a little kid, my older brother told me that I was fat, and that is something I've always believed about myself. Throughout my life I have almost always been embarrassed by my weight and my body. I have rarely liked how I looked. A few weeks ago I was perusing photos from around six or seven years ago when I was attending BYU—Idaho. I was almost shocked to look at some of them because I remember being so self-conscious of my body at the time. I remember believing that I was overweight. I remember disliking myself, and not only because I thought I was overweight. I just didn't consider myself very likeable.
When I look at these pictures of myself from that era, I think to myself, Hey, I like that guy. He's alright. He's got some really good friends. He's really likeable. He's not a bad looking dude, and he is not fat.
When I look in the mirror today, the following thoughts are not rare: This guy is overweight. And he keeps gaining weight. He really needs to exercise and change his eating habits. His hair is getting too long and it's balding in the back. He's really let himself go. He needs to get his crap together or he'll never be worthy of having a deep, authentic connections with other people.
The hard thing about these statements isn't the truth or untruth thereof; that's pretty easy to discern on a surface level. The hard part is the judgment — what it means to me to be overweight, to be gaining weight. It's the shame I've attached to those statements that buries me.
What's funny about this (or maybe sad) is that in six or seven years from now when I look back at pictures of myself from this time, I suspect it will be through a lens of compassion, love, and gratitude. I'll think to myself, Man, look at that guy — he's trudging through some dead serious shit. I'm so grateful for the hard work he did during that time. He was worthy of what he was up to and he was worthy of the people he surrounded himself with. And look at those people. He chose wisely when it came to those he shared his life with. Man, I'm really grateful for the hard work he did. I like that guy.
When I imagine how I will feel about myself in the future, it makes it a little easier to feel good about myself now. It makes it easier to appreciate what I have now, and I begin to wake up to the fact that right now — like it has always been — my life is pretty rich.