Gratitude and Graduation

Everyone is always a ball of emotions as they squirm in their beds the night before their first day of high school. Thinking about forgetting locker combinations, walking in on the wrong class (been there, done that!), or who they're going to nervously sit by at lunch. As I laid in my bed the night before I stepped foot in PHS as a freshman, my mind was not pondering the many first day mistakes I might make, but was musing over the one hour workout that was to take place at 4 am, how many extra trips I could make up and down the stairs at school to burn more calories, and who would be staring at me as I would pick apart what I packed for "lunch". I wasn't excited for high school. I dreaded waking up in general, because it just meant another day of the same routine, listening to Ed, and being hungry.

Imagine you're leg pressing one thousand pounds for endless reps. It feels as if someone soaked your legs in kerosene and lit them up. This fiery sensation rushed over my delicate legs with each and every stair I climbed at school. Those "extra trips" up the stairs was one of the main reasons I feared facing school every day. I'm not here to list all of those reasons though. This isn't supposed to be a sob story. This is a story of struggles and triumphs. This is a story that shaped the woman that is graduating from high school today. I am that woman, the woman who planted the scared little eating disorder stricken girl into the ground and let her grow. That girl will always be the heart of the tree, but the woman she grew into will branch off into many different directions. The woman's ridges and bark are filled with love and loss. Her tears have fed the roots and her inner sunshine has allowed her to stand tall on the stormiest of days. This is not the end of the tree's life, but only the end of one of her many branches.

I wasn't supposed to survive long enough to finish out my first year of high school, but yet here I am, finishing my final year of high school. It's been a hell of a ride and I've grown tremendously since freshman year. To not being able to walk on my own at all, to walking across the graduation stage. People are going to tell you, "It's really hard", and yeah, that's not a lie. But if you have a burning passion to set out and accomplish a goal, you will go to the ends of the earth to smash that goal. In doing so, you'll either meet that goal, or stumble upon another path along the way and choose to go that way instead. Plan A's, B's, C's, honestly to me? I don't believe in them. Screw having a plan, because nothing will ever go exactly according to plan. You're going to hit speed bumps and dead ends. The amount of times I've had to take a different route are endless, but the amount of times I regretted taking a different route are nonexistent. I cannot and will not hate the experiences that have shaped me. 

I am thankful for my eating disorder. Yes, you read that right. I am grateful for the passions, knowledge, and strength he has brought me. If it wasn't for Ed, I would have never found my passion for powerlifting. Ed has given me forever friends that he lingers in the minds of as well. I often wonder what my life would look like if he hadn't stumbled into it. What would I do for a hobby? Who would my friends be? What kind of foods would I eat? What would I look like? I have no idea. Ed has both blessed and hurt me. Yes, of course how much he hurt me is more distinct than the blessings, but that's not the point. I've had countless meltdowns angrily asking God, "Why me? Out of all people, why did you pick me to deal with this struggle?". I've realized now that I don't need God's response to those questions to know the answer. God only gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. Everything that I've gone through has been a blessing in disguise. 

The legs that walk across the graduation stage today are the legs that have carried this body through all of the struggles she has faced. They have been built up and fed by her caretaker. The burning sensation has moved from her legs to her soul. Her soul burns of passion and love. There are many things that her soul is smoldering for, and only time and determination will expose them. I haven't done this all on my own. I give my greatest gratitude to my amazingly supportive family. I can't imagine the pain I've put them through, but they always stood behind me no matter what choice I decided on. I'm thankful for the friends that I currently do have, and the ones that are on a different path than I am. God does not bring people into your life without a purpose. I'm appreciative of the staff at PHS that has tried to make high school as enjoyable as possible for me. I've created everlasting relationships with some of the teachers there. They will always hold a special place in my heart. So as I wrap this up, I have one thing left to say. This tree will never stop growing, and she will continue to branch off, curve, and form ridges. She is her own tree specimen,  and with that she will own it. 

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