Why not?

“In this world, where even a good man like my old man is going to die screaming, there’s no point in not trying to achieve every f****** dream that I have, because that is my eventual end…Go out and find ‘Why Not’. Surround yourself with ‘Why Not’. Those people that are just like, “Why not!” Like when you tell them – “Hey, man! I’m going to go out and make a movie,” and they reply, “Alright. Why not? Let’s give it a shot.”” | Kevin Smith

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So there we were – sitting at the table, eating breakfast. It was me, my mother, my step-father, and all three of my younger brothers. In the midst of me talking about my thoughts about getting a M.B.A., my 17 year-old brother blurted, “I think I want to get a doctorate’s degree.”
Immediately, you could hear silverware fall on the glass plates and see shoulders shifting. It was almost as if he had placed himself in a slide and under the microscope that had enough eyepieces for all 5 of us. Our eyes could have burned a hole through his forehead. If only we had laser vision. We all twiddled our thumbs and questioned him as if we were conducting a naturalization interview. No answer he could generate was going to be sufficient, but he tried anyways.

“A doctorate’s degree?”

“What makes you want to do that?”

“What would you be getting a doctorate’s in?”

“What is a doctorate’s degree (My youngest brother, 13)?”

“That’s crazy!”

“You haven’t even graduated high school yet!”

“Student loans would be a hassle.”

We were all taken aback simply because we had always believed that my brother was the one who be the artist that would aimlessly wander in big cities, with no money, searching for fulfillment in anything. A Ph.D.? What a plot twist. We kept the questions rolling, and we made sure to tell him about every single factor and obstacle he had yet to consider. Student loans, time, exams, dissertations and so on. With every opinion, his demeanor shifted dramatically. I could tell that he was making a valiant attempt to remain immovable in his claim. His confidence, like his shoulders, began to wilt.

How dare he aim high!

When I saw his enthusiastic proclamation turn into a deflated notification in less than seven minutes, I grew ashamed. I realized that I was one of the individuals that would deter my brother from his dreams. I immediately wanted the moment back, and every moment before that where I may have discouraged someone’s goals or dreams.
About a year ago, I watched a TEDtalk that starred Kevin Smith. He spoke about how everyone needed to become and surround themselves with ‘Why-Notters’. I never understood that phenomenon until now.

Going forward:

First and foremost: Noah (Or anyone else in my life)! You can be anything you want to be, and I’m sorry for not always being your biggest fan and supporter. I love you dearly, and will help you accomplish anything in this world.

Find, surround, and become something more than doubts. You ought not underestimate the weight and effect of your negativity. Encourage people more. Stop questioning someone’s motives or reasoning to do something. Refrain from projecting your own shortcomings or doubts onto someone else’s dreams and aspirations. It’s not about you. We’re all in this together. Each and every one of us were sent here to flourish. We ought to act accordingly.

noah bean

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Dear Skinnier Self,…

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Recently, I had surgery to remove a ganglion cyst that was in my wrist. Although it was a minor surgery, I was still instructed to refrain from all physical activity until my first, post-op appointment, which was scheduled for a week and three days later. My doctor belted at me when he said, “…and no working out! We want to reduce the risk of infection as much as possible, and we can only do that if we keep your bandage dry.” That statement was the equivalent to someone running their fingernails across the chalkboard. The words made me clutch my ears and squint my eyes. The feeling was back.

This was such a difficult situation for me because I knew the problems I’ve had in the past. How could I go on about my day and eat the way I am supposed to without working out? I felt like I woke up in a sealed, glass box. At first, I was extremely discombobulated, but then I realized my situation when I felt water gushing from the bottom, onto my feet. The water was anxiety. The more thought I put into this, the faster the water began approaching my neck. Then my mouth. Then my nose. Until suddenly, I was trapped – once again – by a feeling.

Although I had spent many months upon years training my body to crave brussels sprouts and baked chicken, working out had always been my safety net. I had purposely rearranged my mind to think of food as not something that should be enjoyed, but as supplements that merely fueled my body. A piece of dark chocolate every month was considered indulgent. Three or four workouts a day was considered an accomplishment, regardless of my physical ailments. My logic was: by not being able to workout, that means that I don’t need to fuel my body. Little did I know that life was reason enough.

Day of Surgery:

Nothing to eat before surgery. After surgery, Dad was in town, and wanted to make me feel better. He bought his favorite ice cream, and we sat in bed eating it straight out of the container. I took a laxative to rid myself of the empty nutrition.

Post-Op, Day 1:

Watermelon, pineapples, and grapes. One turkey sandwich. Hello, Mr. Laxative! Long time, no see.

Post-Op, Day 2: 

1/2 cup of a smoothie. Berries, spinach, and greek yogurt. Hooray to water and light-headedness for the rest of the day!

Post-Op, Day 3:

Nothing. Nothing to eat. Just water. I literally begged and pleaded with my trainer for the go-ahead to exercise. She asked if I had been taken my pain medication.

I intentionally avoided taking my pain medicine since the day of operation because I knew this question would determine whether or not I could workout.

I received the go-ahead, and ran miles on an empty stomach. I was okay with that because I felt better about the 1/2 cup of smoothie, eggs, and turkey bacon I would eat later.


Wait. By taking those laxatives, that’s basically like throwing up. Just out of the other end. I didn’t even eat anything bad except for the 3 spoonfuls of ice cream I ate with dad. Purging and starving myself? Isn’t that like….an eating disorder or something?


It wasn’t until my experience with this surgery that I realized that I had developed these habits long before, but they weren’t as visible because I have always been able to workout. I needed to make a change, and it needed to be fast.

Dear Skinnier Self, 

Although I appreciate all that you are trying to do for me, I have realized that you do not exist. I have created a new version of me called, “Healthier Self”, and she is much nicer to my body than you are. You cannot plague me with your convolutions any longer because I now understand that a thinner physique is not interchangeable for a healthier body. I know it will be challenging, but I also know that I am more than capable. Everyday, I am reminding myself that mental alertness, regulated blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and strong bones are far more important than the measurement on a silly strand of seamstress tape. I have outgrown you, and I no longer need you.

P.S. I am perfect the way I am, and I refuse to remedy my imperfections through self-harm. 

Your Soon-To-Be Liberated Victim,

J.