With only five days into the year 2018, it has become quite clear that this will be a year defined by feeling fear, but doing it anyway. This will be a year of quelling past doubts, overriding disbelief, and thwarting needless worries.
One month ago, I envisioned my worst fears and decided to resist every fiber in my body encouraging me to turn away from them, and instead, pursue them. Speak to a tremendous amount of people about my long-term journey with an eating disorder, and shed light on an illness that has coaxed me into thinking that my circumstance is something to be muted and left in the dark? Take my greatest fears of public speaking and drawing attention to myself and bring them both into the spotlight? Initially, both of these questions solely lent fear, but now, they provide an overwhelming sense of pride and enthusiasm. Going into this weekend, any fears I previously had have been squelched by the reality that I will be making a difference in my small community.
This Saturday night, I will be holding an event at War3house3 in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, in hopes of taking guests through an intimate journey of struggle and triumph as I share my longstanding experience with an eating disorder. This will be an opportunity to be raw, exposed, authentic, and sincere about a topic that I have shielded for six years. It will be a night of coalescing a diverse community for one cause. Tomorrow will elucidate an organization that devotes itself to a disorder that is so often regarded as taboo in subject and highly personal. We will encourage others to follow us as we bring this cause to the forefront and prove that it is vital to provide quality care to those directly affected by an eating disorder and give resources to the families coping with these fatal mental illnesses. It will be a night brought alive by uplifting, live music, and voices singing songs that helped to guide myself and many others through times of melancholy and anguish. Above all, it will be a night for those who have struggled, are struggling, or will struggle with these all-powerful illnesses. Though the event is still one day away, my heart is already overflowing with gratitude knowing that I can hold an event for these people. I am so thankful to have a dad who is passionate enough about creative expression and the arts, as well as promoting worthwhile causes to own a space dedicated to both of these ideals.
If someone came into my room at the Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania three short months ago to tell me that soon I would be sharing my personal journey with my community in hopes of shedding light on the National Eating Disorder Association, I would have been concerned for their sanity. Three months ago, I was stricken by anxiety and ashamed of my condition. I was overpowered by feelings of isolation and defeat as I endured the daily, inevitable pain of recovery. Like the plague, I avoided the words "eating disorder," viewing them as words underpinned by weakness and disgrace. With each passing day, my fears have lessened, my strength has intensified, and in turn, I have been granted the unparalleled opportunity to embrace more people than I ever could have prior to being diagnosed with an eating disorder.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you. To those planning to attend the event, thank you for choosing to make a difference on your Saturday night. To those who are struggling with this ravishing disorder or have struggled: thank you for your bravery, your courage, and your perseverance. Though it may seem underwhelming to you at times, your strength is transcendent, and your presence radiant. Thank you to the National Eating Disorder Association for being an everlasting support for those in need of support. Thank you for overriding the harsh stigmas surrounding these fatal mental illnesses, and encouraging others to envision a world without eating disorders.
Here's to a night celebrating triumph, struggle, and the beauty in it all.
The featured band for Saturday night: The Todd Fausnacht Band