Learning to Love Myself

Over the past year, I had a lot of stress and change in my life. I changed my career.  I had to write another book.  That stress and anxiety was amplified by COVID-19 and all the chaos that came with it. It caused me to eat my feelings and I gained a lot of weight. No really.  I gained 35 pounds. It made me depressed and anxious. My clothes didn’t fit and I hated the way I looked. Everything seemed so impossible. I didn’t feel healthy. I didn’t like myself. Heck, I didn’t even love myself. I didn’t know how. 
This past year, I discovered a new music group. I discovered BTS. Wait.  I know what you are thinking.  What does a K-pop group have to do with this?  Just keep reading.  My anxiety had gotten so bad, that music seemed to be the only thing that helped shut my brain off and made it quit circling round and round.  Despite all the anxiety and depression I was suffering through, I threw myself into a genre of music I never thought I would ever like for help. I started listening to BTS and watching videos on the daily. I started paying attention to their fandom.  I listened to their lyrics with my heart. For some reason, their music resonated with me in a way that another group never has. It was their message.  LOVE YOURSELF.  Such a simple message but so hard it seems for most of us. So I stopped and took a look at what I was doing to myself. I looked at pictures and could see the smile always plastered on face in pictures was hiding how I was feeling. I could see what others couldn’t.  I could see how much I hated myself and how much anxiety I was suffering through. I started to look at myself and realize I needed to like myself. No wait. I needed to LOVE MYSELF. I decided to make a change. I reconnected with an author friend who shared this same obsession with BTS.  I found someone else who gets it, my BTS Bestie. She feeds my obsession every morning.  We even virtually watched a concert together at 2 am.  She has made me see the beauty in their music even more deeply.  As I reconnected with her, I realized how important being honest with people in my life is to me. I turned to BFF and my #soulmate and took a chance and told them about how I was feeling. I started being honest with you all about how anxiety feels. I wrote about it in several blogs and chapters in my new book.  It felt like such a relief. For the first time in my life I was being honest with people about myself. So then, I decided to be honest with myself.  I started acknowledging what I was feeling.  It was OK to have anxiety.  It was OK to struggle some days to even get out of bed. It was hard to realize that I was struggling.  Even now, writing this brings up some anxiety because I am talking about a subject that has so much taboo surrounding it. But let me put in my ear buds, turn on BTS and explain the change in myself.
Learning to love myself has not been easy.  It has been damn hard.  It felt selfish.  It felt ridiculous.  Like shouldn’t we always love ourselves?  Truth is, most of us don’t.  I chose to hide how I felt.  I chose to stuff those feelings with food.  I felt like I was lying to you all.  I tried so hard to portray positivity and self acceptance but really, I didn’t feel that way.  In reality, I actually hated myself. One night, I lay in my bed, anxiety consuming my thoughts and I watched a BTS video, tears started streaming down my face.  It hit me so hard.  The message of LOVE YOURSELF. It was right there in their lyrics, in their words.  In speeches to fans.  It was then that I knew I needed to change.  I needed to love myself.  I got up the next day determined.  I started working out.  I started eating better. I started realizing the feelings that were making me shove food down my gob and I stopped.  I stopped being apologetic for my love of BTS, Disney, and anything else that makes me who I am. I stopped letting the way others think of me control me.  I looked at who I am in my heart and saw the girl that I was hiding.  I found my smile again.  My real smile.  All it took was the message of one group to hit me right in the feels.
I am not going to exaggerate and say that it is easy.  It isn’t.  I have hard days.  I have days where anxiety still controls me.  Where tears feel right on the surface.  Where I want to give up.  It is those days that I reach out.  I talk to those close to me.  It is those days that I turn on BTS music and let it soothe me.  Oh who are we kidding?  I listen to them every day. #obsessed. But honestly, you have to find something that helps you and this is mine.  BTS has pulled me out of self despair and found the music in my heart again.  These seven men helped me find myself.  The fandom, ARMYs, helped solidify my self acceptance.  So yes, BTS has everything to do with this.  BTS made me LOVE MYSELF.
So here I am, almost 50 years old. 12 pounds lighter in 10 weeks.  Loving all the nerdy things, including BTS, without shame. Showing my real smile and even I can see it for the first time in a long time.  Here I am LOVING MYSELF. Borahea.
Oh yeah.  I didn’t die today.  I did decide to make a major change and discovered my love for BTS but I didn’t die.  I am the Fat Girl who is learning to LOVE MYSELF Running.  The experiment continues…