Olympics and Flying: What they Have in Common

When I was little, I would watch the Olympics in complete awe and reverence. I would watch the gymnasts run down the mats like an airplane taxing down a runway, fling themselves off the vault, fly through the air, twisting and turning like a leaf in the wind, and stick their landings. I would watch the ice skaters glide on the ice like a knife over butter, twirl in the air as they complete their triple axels, and come back down to earth all with the grace of an angel.

And I wanted to be a gymnast and an ice skater and a fairy princess. So, I tried my hardest. I put a step stool down between the lines on the carpet in the living room. I would run and jump off of it, doing a half twist in the air before my feet hit the ground. And in that moment, I was an award-winning gymnast. I would “ice skate” in my socks on hardwood floor, and as I glided over the floors I pretended I was Michelle Kwan. I would take my light pink super hero cape and pretend it was a Queen’s robe, until I decided being prim and proper was boring. Saving the world is more fun.

When I was little, I was obsessed with the idea of flying. I would stand on the bottom step of the staircase in my home and channel my inner Buzz Lightyear by saying, “to infinity and beyond.” Of course, being 3, it would come out “to infiniby and beyond.” And then I would jump off that 6 inch step and flap my arms, because I was convinced that if I flapped my arms hard enough, I could fly around the room. One day, I told my Dad with all the enthusiasm little me could muster, “Daddy. I was in the air for 6 whole seconds!”

Of course, I wasn’t. Children don’t understand time… or gravity.

Sometimes I still don’t.

Time is a relative concept. It’s not a line. It’s more of a… of a… big ball of timey wimey stuff. Gravity isn’t concrete either. Sometimes, when I feel particularly unhappy about my body, I remember that I would weigh less on the moon. So, if I ever fulfill my dream of becoming an astronaut, I’m all set. Because what is weight, but the force of gravity acting upon us? And the amount of gravity depends on the mass of the object. The earth is bigger than the moon. But compared to the size of the universe, the earth is miniscule. A speck of sand on the finger of God. So it’s easy for me to feel small.

On the day I decided to test gravity and throw myself off the metaphorical cliff, I wasn’t small enough for God to see me, to protect me, and save me.

I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of flying, and I’ve learned that 37,000 feet in the air is beautiful.

Gymnasts fly. Ice skaters fly. I’ll never be either.

And that’s ok. Because I’m a writer. I believe in metaphors. I believe in life. And what is life but a metaphor anyway?

When I was little, I believed that if I jumped high enough and flapped my arms hard enough, I would sprout wings and fly around the room.

One day, I woke up, and I had wings. And now I’m flying.

The girl who is scared of heights, which is more a fear of falling aka a fear of trying to die, is flying high in the sky. And nothing will ever bring me down.

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Open Letter to Society

I read somewhere once that it takes 21 days to form a habit. I also read somewhere that people who are anorexic believe themselves to be larger than they are, and they will turn their bodies when they go through doorways large enough for them to fit, because despite the vastness of the doorway, they believe they occupy more space than any doorway ever could.

I was anorexic for 4, almost 5, years. I was anorexic for 1825 days, give or take a few. That’s enough time for me to form 86 habits and 9/10ths of another. That’s 60 months of training my body to not need 3 meals a day, training my body to not need very much at all.

It’s taken me longer than 21 days to get in the habit of eating again, because I still don’t feel confident enough in my body to think of eating as a top priority.

And sometimes I still find myself turning my body when I walk through doors. Some habits are harder to break than others.

I stopped cutting myself 41 months ago, and sometimes I think if I day gets bad enough, I could start again.

I was raised in a society that taught girls how to protect themselves from sexual assault, but didn’t teach guys how to not rape. Fat lot of good that did me.

I was raised in a society where beauty is found in Photoshop and good lighting. And even though society’s beginning to change, I think it’s too late for my generation.

It’s too late for those who have already starved themselves to the point of hospitalization. It’s too late for those who have killed themselves because the pressures of society were too much. It’s too late for those who have already created enough scars on their skin to map the constellations in the sky.

But it’s not too late for the next generation. That’s why I’m going to teach my children to be more than pretty. Because pretty is boring. I’m going to teach them to be pretty amazing, pretty funny, pretty inquisitive, pretty respectful.

I’m going to teach them that ‘hate’ has four letters, but so does love. It’s easy to hate, and it’s hard to love. But love makes the world go round.

I’m going to teach them to love the 26 letters that make up this alphabet. Because language is powerful, and sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can also hurt you. Which is why I try my hardest to build others up, because I know what it’s like to be torn down.

I’m going to teach them the importance of equality and mutual respect, and the things you learn in school can have practical importance if you know the places to look.

I’m going to teach them that no matter their past, no matter what they’ve been through, they can do great things with their life. Your past does not define who you are. You are so much more.

And I’m going to teach them the following:

Girls, if a guy hits you, do not hit back. Walk away. Tell yourself that you deserve so much more.

The correct response is not, “Don’t hit me because I’m a girl.” The correct response is, “Don’t hit me because I’m human.” Guys don’t like being hit either.

Guys, if a girl hits you, do not hit back. Walk away. Tell yourself that you deserve so much more.

The correct response is not, “I can’t hit her back because she’s a girl.” The correct response is, “I can’t hit her back because she’s a human.” Do not answer violence with violence.

Girls, if a guy tells you that wearing a dress makes you look more dateable, wear sweatpants every day. Dress up to make yourself feel beautiful. Do not dress up to impress the guys.

Guys, if a girl tells you that they are into guys with six-packs, keep your shirt on. Go to the gym and work out. But do it to make you feel better. Do not do it to impress the ladies.

Girls, do not find a hero in a guy. Be your own hero.

Guys, be a hero for a girl. Do not be perfect.

Girls, do not let a guy kiss you/ touch you/ do anything to you without your consent. It’s not ok.

Guys, do not let a girl kiss you/ touch you/ do anything to you without your consent. It’s not ok.

Girls, do not fall in love with a guy who has the perfect body. Fall in love with a man who is not perfect, but who has a heart filled with the Perfect Man who died for us. Fall in love with a man who respects you, who knows you, who loves you for who you are. Fall in love with a man who isn’t afraid to express his feelings.

Guys, do not fall in love with a supermodel. Fall in love with a woman who is far from it, but who has been made beautiful by the washing with His blood. Fall in love with a woman whose heart is so lost in God’s that you need God to break through. Fall in love with a woman who respects you, who knows you, who loves you for who you are.

Girls, do not for a minute let a guy treat you like trash. Do not let a guy control you. Do not find your value in a guy. Walk away.

Guys, do not for a minute let a girl treat you like trash. Do not let a girl control you. Do not find your value in a girl. Walk away.

I’m going to teach my son that if he likes a girl, he should not pull her ponytail, he should not be mean to her. I will tell him, Honey, if you like a girl, buy her flowers or chocolate or make her a card. Do something, anything that will show her how special she is.”

I’m going to teach my daughter that a guy pulling her ponytail is not ok. I will not tell her he likes her. I will tell her, “Honey, if a guy really truly likes you, he will show you how special you are over and over and over again.”

If someone has a history of being abusive, do not get involved.

If someone has a history of being abused, do not continue that cycle.

If someone is making you uncomfortable, walk away.

If someone is hurting you mentally or physically, walk away.

Do not for a minute believe that the world is better off without you. We all have a purpose. We all have talents, but sometimes we doubt our abilities.

If worse comes to worse, rely on God. You are loved by a God who is far greater than any love you can find on earth.

But most importantly, I’m going to tell them over and over again about the importance of faith. Because there will be days when the size of life’s problems will be too much for their small hands to handle, but they have a God who has hands big enough for all of us.