I am bigger now than when I left home for college. My freshman year has gone by in the blink of an eye and I am bigger now.
The “freshman fifteen” became something that took over a multitude of conversations I had when I entered college in the fall. Everyone chats about the calories here and the fat there and how much they saw this girl from their hometown gained last year and so on and so forth. I jumped in, talking about my body and its size and where it gains when it gains and where it looses when it looses and how much was too much and how little was too little and it consumed me.
I started spending more time criticizing my body than ever before. I became hypersensitive to body-talk and realized each one of my friends had a thing (or twenty) they wished they could change. How every girl (and guy, I promise, I heard it) dreaded the freshman fifteen in their own way.
I was starting to let this idea that fifteen pounds of extra weight would completely ruin me as a person take up a pretty good amount of head space. I guess I figured when you gained weight, you lost something else. You lost friends or popularity or self-worth. It was as if I wouldn’t be a “good enough” person if I gained some extra love on my love handles.
I got that extra love on my love handles and a rounder face. All my jeans are snug and I bumped up a size in Nike shorts. I gained the freshman fifteen. There, I said it. And here I am, bigger now than when I started with tighter jeans and arms that take up a little extra room in the sleeves of my shirts.
But here’s the magic, I didn’t loose anything by gaining. I am on the other side of the infamous freshman fifteen, feared by most every high school senior about to embark on this great college journey. I gained weight but it’s the very least important thing I gained this year. I’m bigger. My soul is bigger, my life is bigger, and my heart is bigger. I am full and it has nothing to do with the chicken nuggets and fries I just ate.
I could never have imagined just how much every aspect of my life would grow and change for the better when I started this crazy ride just nine months ago. My life is more full of people who love me for me, who listen to my crazy stories and theories and who want me to succeed.
My heart has made room for so many new people who have become lead roles in this chapter of my story. I have gained best friends and memories that I know I will carry with me into the future. My world is expanding every day and I am learning (emphasis on learning) how to be a real, adult human who has educated opinions on real world events. I am gaining life skills (like how to complete group projects in college, cue cringing) and a feeling of belonging to something so much bigger than myself through my university and my sorority.
With every sip of every drink I had this year I tucked a memory away. I didn’t loose anything by gaining and sure, I still think about the crunches I could have done or the running habit I wish I had, but I’ve decided that the freshman fifteen is okay, that nothing about me is less because I take up a few extra centimeters of space.
So whether you’re about to embark on this college journey or you’re already waist deep in it, try to remember this: it all comes down to you. If running makes you feel alive then run, if corn dogs make you feel alive eat the corn dogs. But don’t do either because you feel like you have to. Because here’s the greatest thing: you don’t. Your life is up to you, so do what makes it bigger and fuller and richer and try to find pieces of yourself along the way.
The other side of the freshman fifteen isn’t so bad after all, and I’d order the cheese fries all over again if I had the chance.