What I’ve Learnt This Summer

Monday 22 August

I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a summer as much I have this one. Moving into the summer months was initially nerve-racking, due to the pressure to go out, go on holidays, meet up with friends, and wearing smaller clothing. The word pressure seems a little much in this context but you get what I mean: at this age in particular there is a form of pressure on us to have the “best summer ever”, which includes what I have just mentioned. And for the last few summers, I haven’t been able to enjoy any of these things due to the looming presence of my eating disorder. However, I feel over the moon to say that I have well and truly loved the last couple months (and I haven’t said that in years). This summer has been one of the best ones if not the best one yet. And the summer isn’t quite over, so there is more to come.

So many lessons have been learnt this summer. Below, I’ve listed a few that sum up how I am feeling now:

Firstly, nobody really cares what you look like.

This is a big one for a lot of us and I talk about it a lot. During the summer months, there is potential pressure to have a “summer body” and to fit in with society’s version of “beautiful” and “thin”. All these terms sink into the world of diet culture. There is no such thing as a “summer body”. Magazine bodies aren’t attainable nor sustainable (they’re also heavily edited). At the end of the day, everyone is too wrapped up in their own bubble to care if you have abs or not. All bodies are beautiful and different; we should start accepting that and loving that uniqueness in our world. Society is quick to put a label on things, which is something we also need to combat. Just remember that those pictures posted online don’t show the full picture.

Secondly, at my age I should be having TONS of fun.

Since the age of thirteen, I have been wrapped up by the concept of bodies and diets. To sum that up in one word, it’s shit. I have missed out on so much fun during the last six years because of this. I missed out on my first year at university because I was too consumed by working out and keeping to a strict morning and evening routine (in bed by 9.30, up by 7.30). Whenever there was a party or a night out, I’d say no because I thought staying healthy meant prioritising your routine and lifestyle over everything else. While that may be true some of the time, especially with mental health, life is all about balance and it is vital to remember this. The weekends are about letting your hair down, but for God’s sake I’m only 19! I shouldn’t be worried about what I look like or having a good “routine”! I should say yes to consecutive nights out and no break from drinking for weeks on end. I shouldn’t be hiding in my room away from social events when I know I’d really rather be joining in, but I think to myself that if I stay in bed and not go out, I’ll be “healthy” and “good”.

To put it simply, I have missed out on so much due to this mindset. It’s good to stick to routine but even better to bloody go out there and enjoy your life! This summer I have done exactly that: saying yes to more spontaneity. I’d talk about this in terms of my eating disorder, but it goes beyond that. What I’m referring to is saying yes to all these social events – even just walks in the park with mates was something I used to turn down. So, I have learnt that it’s ok to skip workouts and order pizza over a salad because that’s what I actually want to do and not what I think I want to do. Life is about balance and so many people have tried to coin new terms for this such as the 80/20 lifestyle (80% healthy living and 20% fun). Instead, just enjoy life. Ensure that you are nourishing your body (and mind) with the right foods and taking time off from people for yourself but allow yourself to eat what you want when you want and to miss the gym! Just be healthy in your own way

Thirdly, going off from the point above, I have discovered that I do love socialising.

I thought I hated people and was extremely introverted and favoured alone time over company. Now I know that that is the opposite to how I operate now. I love nights out and meeting new people. Yes, from time to time I get burnt out – but that’s normal! Of course, the next day I feel grotty and crave my “healthy routine” again, but I know that I had a good time so that trumps it all. Memories over worrying about routine and calories, always!

I hope you can see now why I have enjoyed this summer so much. I have met so many wonderful people and enjoyed all the holidays and fun I have had over two months. If you haven’t already this summer, take the next month to purely enjoy life again. Say yes to more things and spend the time with friends in beer gardens! We’re only young and that is why I am doing exactly that.

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