For most of my life, I never considered myself to be someone with a huge imagination. Sure, I’ve always been creative to some extent. And, yes, I have a general inclination towards daydreaming, and a love for story-telling that stretches from Little Women to Black Mirror to that one particularly great season of Real Housewives Of New Jersey where Theresa flips the table (*chefs kiss*). Still, though, for a long time, if you would have asked me to describe myself, imaginative is not a word that would have come out of my mouth. This is because in my mind, I wasn’t concocting entire fantasy worlds in my head the way I imagined my favorite authors did, naming characters and dreaming up fake places, dream worlds. To me, imagination was all about fiction — slowly stacking one fantastical block on another until you have something that looks nothing like real life at all. It took me until recently to realize that my whole damn life had been spent imagining fake worlds. At the time, I just thought I was planning.
Apart from a brief yet oddly intense phase of my early teens when I often imagined a world in which Robert Pattinson and I were dating, most of the many, many hours I spent daydreaming were focused on anticipating future events, milestones, experiences — not imaginary worlds, but things that I was fairly sure would happen in my life at some point. Sometimes they were things that I couldn’t rush, like getting to my first year of college, or moving to study abroad. Other times, they were things that could have been happening right then, but I put off, convinced that there was a time when it would be better. Always, these were things I thought that would only be truly enjoyable if I was thinner.
At my very smallest, I still defined (and imagined) situations and achievements as being inherently better if I experienced them as a thinner person. It’s taken a while to realize that this had nothing to do with my size at all and everything to do with how I viewed myself — with what I thought was acceptable when it came to myself and taking up space in the world. Over the past 10 years, my weight has fluctuated, but I’ve never once imagined, say, my future wedding or a dream vacation, and not pictured myself as a smaller person. When I was small, I just wanted to be smaller. Because in my mind, the concept of enjoying something fully and not being as thin as I could be simply seemed laughable. Like a missed opportunity, or a failure to commit to the right 6-month regimen.
After I recently had a moment where I was day dreaming about something in the future and subconsciously imagining myself as a I smaller person, I stopped and asked myself what would happen if nothing changed between now and then. What if I looked just the same? And in that question, it slowly clicked that I’ve spent virtually my whole life imagining myself experiencing moments as someone smaller, simply because I believed that was better. I delayed joy, and I set myself up to approach milestones and events cautiously, disappointedly — happy, but never really forgetting that voice in my head that said, ‘Hey, this could have been a lot better had you been a size 6, or 8, or 10.’
And here’s the thing: What I look like in five years or six months could be different, or it could be just like this. I don’t know. But I think I’m done planning my life around the assumption that to experience joy to the highest extent, you have to be smaller. Because regardless of what size I am, when I approach milestones and experiences and all the other things I’ve dreamed about, I want to be fully there, loving every second. The lie that you have to be thinner to enjoy things more is simply that. It’s false. So I’m here to say I’m letting it go this year. Tearing it down. Throwing it in the trash with the life-size poster of Robert Pattinson that may or may not still exist in my childhood home.
And now, all those times I get lost in my head and think about those daydream-worthy moments, I’ll instead think about how great I’ll feel then — and it will have nothing to do with how I look.