A few weeks ago a professor asked me and my classmates during an icebreaker activity to share something we did over the summer that pushed our boundaries or made us feel like living. As people began to answer, I couldn’t help but sink deeper and deeper into my chair with each response. Here are just a few that I can remember off the top of my head: skydiving, swimming with sea turtles, participating in the NYC Pride Parade, studying abroad in Greece, and sailing off the coast of Belize. What are these people?!
I felt like I was sitting a room full of world travelers, risk takers, and overall life-livers!
When it came time for me to answer, a twinge of panic shot through my brain. I hate being boring. None-the-less, I mustered up the response, “Well, I got a dog and he gives me a lot of joy.” At first, I felt super lame. But then I remembered something else: I may not have gone sky diving or sailing in Belize, but that doesn’t mean I had a boring, worthless summer. In fact, I pushed my boundaries in a completely different way.
This summer I dedicated solely to recovering from my eating disorder. My trip to Belize was going to Charleston and eating Ben and Jerry’s with my mom. My skydiving was going out for pizza with my boyfriend. Lastly, my NYC Pride Parade was going out to lunch with my best friends for the first time in months.
I learned how to push myself, to scare myself, and to live with gumption!
Although eating a cone of ice cream is normal for any other person on the planet, for someone with an eating disorder this was a big deal. A monumental deal. Laughing with my boyfriend while eating delicious slices of pizza was a big deal. Socializing over lunch was a big deal. So no, I didn’t travel the world, or go skydiving, or go swimming with gorgeous sea creatures, but that does not mean I didn’t push my boundaries in other ways.
My point is, you don’t have to risk your life to feel like you’re living on the edge. You don’t have to plan an extravagant trip or jump out of a plane to feel like you’re truly living. In fact, you can challenge yourself every day without doing any of those things. I have an eating disorder so I push my boundaries by going out to eat and trying exotic foods. For you, it may be as simple as trying something new, changing up your routine, or giving yourself a new project. But for me, it’s being brave enough to eat out with my friends or family.
If you usually take your coffee with two creams and a sugar, switch it up and try it black! Instead of getting your regular order at Chipotle, try something that you’ve never had before! Skip your 30-minute cardio workout and go to that hot yoga class that all your friends are raving about! Eat a piece of cake. Adopt a dog. Go to a salsa class. Cook for your partner. It can be anything. The bottom line is, stop waiting for something to happen, something to change, or for things to go right for you to truly start living.