Everyone wants to stand out until you actually do

"Ring by spring!"

"Flirt to convert!"

"I'm already 23, I'm such an old maid. I only really feel confident when I get asked out."

"I don't go for that ethnic thing. May sound petty but I have a type and it's white."

Yes. All real.

Sigh. At this point, it's pretty easy to say that BYU dating culture is it's own animal. Finding a wife/husband should be included in the BYU mission statement because it's definitely an unspoken requirement.

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with encouraging young people to date and marry! It's amazing to meet new people, to gain experience. I've actually had a great experience dating here, and I've enjoyed meeting so many new people that have imprinted on my heart.

But how does this tie into my title you might well ask? Well, let me explain.

When I first arrived at BYU, I had no idea of the hardships that would await me and the conflict of confidence I would undertake. It became abundantly clear within my first month that I did not emulate Provo culture.

After being asked what ethnicity I was, in counting, a total of 37 times while I've been here, it started to feel like maybe I wasn't the right ethnicity for people.

For the record, I am in fact, white as Wonder bread. I just don't have that Provo "look." You know what I'm talking about- blonde, blue eyed, fair skinned-preppy and soft spoken about nearly everything and innocent to a T.

I walk around campus everyday with my ear buds in thinking about how my ripped denim, olive-toned, smokey eye self can possible do this for four years. I writhe inside when I feel I fail to mold myself to the crowd. I begin to self destruct because maybe I am not as strong as I thought. As I generalize myself, I also generalize all of you into one lump. I slip into black and white thinking. Me and the rest of the masses. An entity unto itself.

Hence the title. Everyone wants to be noticed, unique and special, until they actually are. And oddly enough, I don't even think that I outwardly stand out that much. It's more a feeling. A constant projection that who I am is a mistake. A feeling of failure that seeps into your bones and starts to permeate the air around you. And it in no way hindered my ability to make friends and find wonderful people. But I could never shake the feeling. You are wrong as you are. You are disposable.

My past eating disorder demons began to use these growing insecurities of being a "required taste" or a unwanted variation as fuel to resurge some of the core beliefs I spent years unraveling.

"Something is wrong with you by nature."

"You will never be enough."

"You are utterly worthless. No one would ever want you."

"You don't have depression. You're just an incompetent mess."

I wish I could say that I dispelled these thoughts as soon as possible, but instead I let them flood my mind. With no openings for therapy and no one in an eating disorder/depression field to talk about the issues I was going through with, I felt the inevitable momentum of relapse approaching. And boy did it hit me like a freight train.

I spent weeks looking into the mirror and feeling like I was going to fall apart. Sometimes I did. However, I kept smiling because I think in my mind I wanted to prove to myself that I was past reconstructing my self image; I could validate myself! I was an adult now and this was just a part of growing up. I don't need help, I got this.

As far as dating and validation goes, I dated a lot the second I got to college. That's supposed to make me a better person, right? In a society where girls constantly place each other on a social ladder and people in general are reduced to their phenotype, I felt like I was lost in a trap I never asked for. Dates never validated me. I'd go on 7 dates in one week, and I'd still go home and feel the same way. I'd still feel like I wasn't preppy enough, wasn't goodly enough, wasn't even white enough as a white person. I'd feel inadequate and question my worth everyday. I'd stop recognizing the things I liked about myself and start picking apart all that I thought was missing. Because the problem is you can only sell yourself to others, hoping that someone will eventually buy your act, for so long until you realize that it will never be enough. You will never know independence until you learn how to be enough for yourself.

To say that I am immune to the self-depricating and miserable thoughts I used to entertain daily have forever been banished would be an insult to you all. Then again, I'm not allowed not to be okay, right? I'm Miss bodyloveandbeyond, Miss go get em', Miss fiercely and permanently confident. That, friends, is exactly why I'm writing this.

Body positivity, recovery, and self confidence will never be constant. Yes, you can and WILL get to a place where the days where you crash are fewer and farther between but it will never be linear. YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND THIS. Breathe it in, internalize it, let it become apart of your internal narrative.

Because when the going gets tough and you don't allow yourself not to be okay, you will turn to self blame and belittlement. Your mind will tell you that you are not lovable. You are sad because you deserve to be sad. You deserve this pain.

No. No, you don't. Nonetheless, it is there and it persists.

But hey, let's look at the positives here. Before I came to college, I thought I truly had mastered unconditional self love. Now I know exactly what work I have left to do.

Look, don't go thinking I blame Provo for my problems. Yes, this environment has heightened some things that I didn't know I would be dealing with when I came. But how important is it that I take this time now to experience these things, to know for myself, and to learn how to continually try?

The fact of the matter is, I won't be everyone's taste. Neither will you. Neither will Miss Universe. That's not my purpose on this earth. I am here to love you. Whoever you are reading this. I'm here to share my heart with you and not only let that vulnerability heal me, but give your heart the spoken permission to open itself up as well.

I grow when I am put out of my comfort zone. I grow when I have to rediscover how to extend self compassion to myself. I learn how to love a little deeper every time I have to reopen these wounds. And for that I am forever grateful.

Going forward, I will be honest and vulnerable. It's a terrifying thing to put your heart on the line all the time. But I know it's the right thing to do, which is why I continue to do so. I will strive to learn how to appreciate my own beauty. I will celebrate you as well as me. Even through the difficult times, I am so excited to have the amazing opportunity to share my story everyday. I am the luckiest girl in the world. Thank you.

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