Some two years before I was born, a woman named Eda LeShan wrote a short piece for Woman's Day entitled The Risk of Growing. Eda, who was turning 59 said,
"I met an oceanographer who asked me if I knew how a lobster was able to grow bigger when it's shell was so hard...The only way, he explained, is for the lobster to shed its shell at regular intervals. When its body begins to feel cramped inside the shell, the lobster instinctively looks for a reasonably safe spot to rest while the hard shell comes off and the pink membrane just inside forms the basis of the next shell. But no matter where a lobster goes for this shedding process, it is very vulnerable. It can get tossed against a coral reef or eaten by a fish. In other words, a lobster has to risk its life in order to grow..."
When I was a girl, I felt the full force of life's possibilities. I never allowed myself to be limited by fear. I was constantly open to possibilities. It's not that growing up was easy. As an overweight child, I was teased every day and I rarely found support in my troubled family. But for me, my every day was about journeying toward the new and seeking out ways to make life more fun. I didn't conceptualize it that way, but that's just how I lived my life. I knew I was a good person and that I was smart and talented so I was confident that I would succeed. Somewhere along the line, probably in junior high, I forgot all of that and shrank back down inside of myself.
Lately, I've tried to challenge my tendency to shrink from risk. It felt like a tremendous risk putting up the current photos in my progress post. I was worried about haters and how the things they might say would hurt. I was also afraid that no one else would see a change in me. Then I thought about the lobster and realized that a fulfilling life is a series of calculated risks. I've spent too much of my life dodging negativity. I've been embarrassed so many times by people who have used various colloquialisms to poke fun at my size. But why should I be ashamed? People of character work to fortify those around them and those who feel the need to tear other people down are insecure and cruel--who cares what they think?! So I took the risk, and I'm glad I did. Thank you to those who posted encouraging feedback. Support is so important on this path and your kind words meant a lot to me.
My risk-taking attitude carried through to my mini vacation this weekend. My sister and I decided to hit the beach for a couple of days. We couldn't have asked for more beautiful weather. There really wasn't a cloud in the sky and it was beautifully sunny without being the least bit hot. Standing on the shore, feeling the water tag my feet, run away and return to tag my toes again, I felt like every wave was filling me up. I felt whole and complete and entirely comfortable within myself. Next to the ocean, I always have an understanding of the universe that seems to elude me everywhere else.
On the beach, my body image issues no longer felt significant. I wore shorts and a sleeveless shirt, which is unheard of for me, and I think I would have worn a bathing suit if I owned one. And do you know what? No one stared at my bare skin (my hello Helen arms) and no one said anything. I'm fairly confident no one even noticed. Everyone else was dedicated to enjoying their own day.
I realize that it may seem egotistical to think that others will be fixated on me, but I've had enough bad experiences to know that sometimes people are focused on others. I can only guess that such people find it too painful to be focused on themselves. But I was fearless on the beach. I didn't care. I even felt beautiful.
That said, I was also fairly uninhibited in my eating. I didn't feel out of control, but I also didn't feel the need to be too strict with myself. The night before we set out, I thought about how I would handle my vacation eating. I decided that I would enjoy myself, even if it meant that I gained a pound or two. I knew if I was too strict over my mini vacation, I might feel deprived rather than victorious. Today, I really feel refreshed and ready to get back on track and ready to take some more calculated risks.
So have you released your inner lobster lately? What risks will you take to grow today?