Years ago, I sat with one of my students going over his writing trying to help him get his thoughts organized.
“I can’t do it,” he explained. “I am just dumb. I’ve been told that for a long time.”
My heart broke for this young man.
However, one day he saw something in my room – can’t remember what – that he determined was going to injure me or collapse or both. He immediately pulled tools out of his backpack (guns were not an issue in this district; everyone had them for hunting, so there was not an issue), and fixed the issue.
I had solved the mystery. I had to make his assignments something that he could piece together like a puzzle. He was good if he knew that he could take it apart and reassemble it.
He passed the state test, passed my class, and for the next two years, every time I brought my car to the school’s autoshop for repair, he took charge and got it fixed. He even managed to figure out why my car wanted to die every time I turned right, and it never happened again.
And he gave me a screwdriver for Christmas one year because he said I needed to be able to fix things myself. Best gift ever.
This young man was far from dumb. He had been a victim of improper labeling, and he unfortunately had bought in to it. No one proved anything to the contrary to him, until he figured out what he could really do.
So many of us are like this young man: improperly labeled.
My improper label was fat. And I bought into it hook, line, and sinker.
I was 115lbs in high school.
“You have such a pretty face,” people would tell me. “If only you…”
I could lose weight, exercise.
Skip meals, diet, hide under large clothes.
Years later, swollen from injections of Pergonal, Repronex, and Bravelle, I could look in the mirror and not see someone who had been run through the physical and emotional trials of the assisted reproduction wringer.
I saw fat.
It has taken a good, solid year of an incredibly supportive CrossFit box telling me that the scale did not define me for me to finally start to see the light. Scales are stupid. Getting better every day is what is truly important. That drive to improve defines us, not some stupid scale.
I have to define myself, and stop buying in to the improper label.
I am strong.
I am healthy.
I am not a number on a scale.
I do not have to lose weight to be beautiful.
I already am.