At close to 9 lbs I came kicking and screaming into the world with not one, but two sets of the chubbiest cheeks you’ve ever seen. One of them went away with time while the other plagued every family, school, or friend group picture I ever took.
Up until a certain age that trait is adorable, enviable even. A sign of health and prosperity. I think I gained my permanent blush from the constant tweak of cheeks and cooing over just how cute they were. Though a strong Irish heritage didn’t help my case either.
At a certain point, the positive attention stops, and the nicknames begin. The torturous “marshmallow” lambastes, fatty, and patty cake games called by snot-nosed, little children, who haven’t learned their actions bear consequences. Some of the worst offenders shared my biology. I learned quickly that returning the favor didn’t make matters any better.
“Fatty Cake, Fatty Cake Bakers man…”
Clever as it was, I think I buried the rest of that mantra deep, under years of fighting against their stereotypical behavior with my own version of above average. The point is, with age comes the expectation that the baby fat will go away. Mine, didn’t, at least not in my face.
But let’s face it… If it hadn’t been my cheeks, it would have been, and was, something else.
As a gap-toothed, shy, homeschooler, who hung out with chickens and goats, and thought learning was cool, I was an easy target. To top it off, once I got the hang of reading, I couldn’t keep my roman nose out of a book.
And that is where my journey began, a personal battle against reasons for being bullied that led me to a passionate love affair I will carry with me until the day I am in diapers again.
So… haters, I thank you. You helped me to love myself because who else could do it so well?
Rather than being offended or upset, maybe try thanking them also, because ultimately they are part of what brought you here. To the point you are at in your fitness journey.
With that love came desire to test my limitations, to see how fast I could run, how many hay bails I could wrangle before I couldn’t move?
“You can’t climb that tree!”
This drive earned me a self-designated time out more than once. Since, like the cats I loved so much, getting into high places, small spaces, and muddy pits wasn’t the issue. It was coming down and getting out that proved problematic.
These evolved into a gladiatorial defense system that proved useful in my pursuit of social justice toward those who were bullied in front of me. I made myself a lean, mean, marshmallow who couldn’t bear to see someone else struggling with the items that I had.
In high school, I found niches and more friends. We didn’t fit into our small town by itself but we composed and brought together others like us from most towns in a 70-mile radius.
Our knack for adventure sometimes missed the mark of righteousness and fell into the category of mischievous, but by the end of it, we knew ourselves a little bit better.
They saved my life, and I know I did the same because near or far many of them still exist in my life to this day.
The most important message I left with was to never stop searching, striving, or reaching outward for new experiences, while processing them inward. Eventually life starts to find you. It will take you as deep into yourself as it is allowed. If you let it, it will push you into harsh waters. It’s a personal choice to swim or drown, and only you can choose to stop struggling.
So muster your strength and weather the storm, eventually someone will show up, pick you up and offer you a blanket for warmth, arms for comfort, and a vessel for directing.
A HEALTHY LIFE STARTS WITH A HEALTHY
When you feel completely alone, just know that is opportunity knocking, an invitation from your best friend to look inward and see them waving back.