Looking back, the only thing I can say is that I plunged deep and sprinted hard for my dreams in life.
I had the same dreams as every other girl when she was small, to be a model. An actress. Anything the put me in the spotlight of the world. And thanks to a long line of family genes, I grew up to accomplish that goal.
When I was fifteen, I called an agency (without my mothers consent) to learn everything I would need to make it as far as I dreamt. I began researching the modeling industry, learning who models were and which "type" of modeling fit me best. Every chance that was offered to me, whether it was test shoots or free work to gain experience, I took.
And then I took my biggest leap of faith one week after graduating high school. I signed with an agency and accepted a contract to Asia for the next four months. I was sent to Tokyo for three months, with a stop in Osaka in between. And I was in love with my life. I was busy every day, being rushed to castings, fittings, and booking work that I didn't imagine in my wildest dreams. I shot look books for international designers, filmed commercials for Marc Jacobs, Intel, and Japan's shopping network. My life was equivalent to that of someone's on TV. My best friends came from all over the world, we shopped and dined as we pleased working only a day or so a week and experiencing everything the vast city we lived in had to offer.
I couldn't wait to work more. I spent the next year in Asia as well, booking a job that shot in Paris with all expenses paid for, developing interests in things I never would have heard of in my small hometown of Tennessee. I was on an adventure for life, and all that I could experience along the way.
But, as with most things in life, while I dove deeper into the heart of my dreams and accomplishing them I began to realize how dark the world was on the other side. As a size two, I began hating my body. Wishing I had a bigger thigh gap (Ladies, this shouldn't even be a thing. But that's a discussion for another time.), that I had developed a better portfolio, that I could walk into a room and gain everyone's attention, especially those I was competing against for my jobs. I developed a mindset that was permeated with dirt, filth, and lies but I was too blind to see it myself.
I didn't love my life anymore. And how could I? I was surrounded, so deep in the heart of the lies each one of us are told daily. Lies passed around to us, so nonchalantly, of what we have to be in order to be happy.
My sister posted a picture the other day with the words:
I wonder what it's like
To wake up and love yourself
To look in the mirror and not want to cry
To weigh yourself, see the number, and not want to puke
To be with friends and not feel ugly
To go into public and not be insecure
To go shopping for clothes and not feel fat
I just wonder;
What it's like to love your life.
A girl, only sixteen years old, who couldn't go an hour with out judging herself or hearing the judgmental lies of those surrounding her about her body and the way she lives her life. But the most heart wrenching thought it, she's not the only one. The number of girls who woke up this morning wishing they looked like the size zero, airbrushed, and photo shopped models they see along each advertisement is truly despicable in my eyes. And I was a cause in this disgusting problem. To imagine, for only a second, that a young girl looked at a photo of myself posted on a billboard or online somewhere that caused her to think, "Why can't I be that beautiful?" has me in tears.
Two years after I began modeling internationally, I quit. I was exhausted waking up every morning and comparing myself to everything that I wasn't. My mind was going to explode if I had to consider another calorie I had eaten that needed to be burned before the day was done. My focus on life wasn't on bettering myself and my energy for living a healthy life full of love, adventures, and memories was at an all time low. Imagining the mind wrenching, dark feeling that followed me everywhere as long as I was awake, I couldn't comprehend how it felt to be the person who wanted, even for a day, to be me.
It's been six months now since I walked away from contracts in Europe, North America, and Asia and I'm finally beginning to love my life again. I took a seven week vacation to visit my family in Germany, where I ate as much bread, carbs, and sweets as I pleased. The only item on my agenda was to spend each afternoon reading in our garden, while taking the occasional trip into the city to shop or have coffee with old friends. I eliminated everything in my life that gave me a negative mindset, especially anything to do with the modeling industry. After I flew back to Tennessee, I sat down to determine what it is I really wanted to do with my life. I applied for the University of Tennessee, began my track towards a double major in International Business and Marketing, but I also began to develop an idea of what it is I truly want to do with my time.
I want to show others how indescribably beautiful their lives are. I want young girls to stop comparing themselves to the things they see on advertisements and to start focusing their lives solely on things that bring them self-love. I want adults to realize their place in lives, to leave behind their job filled with exhaustion and to begin a life full of the adventures they once dreamed of. I want people to fall in love with their lives and every tiny memory they will have of it when their older.
It's far past time that people began to look past the lies they are fed throughout each day.
It's time for everyone to fall in love with their lives.
Stop focusing on what you're not, start focusing on everything you are and can be.