Beginning my freshman year of high school, I have struggled with anxiety. I had a brief stint with depression my freshman year of college. Throughout this time, I battled with my eating disorder. I’ve never been the cool girl or the most popular girl or the girl every guy likes. I’ve had peers gossip about me and make fun of me behind my back like anyone else. Most of my insecurities did and still do stem from the desire to be the girl everyone pays attention to. I’m a performer (and a Leo and en ENFJ), so naturally I love having all eyes on me. With the popularity of social media, I always wanted more likes, more followers, more comments. At a young age, I noticed that the prettier, skinnier, and funnier girls got that attention that I craved.
I watched TV shows with anorexic characters and realized that I could do that too. These characters didn’t seem distraught—or not enough to distract me from how cool and whimsical they seemed—they got the attention I wanted. Because of my rigorous performance schedule in high school I rarely had time to exercise and couldn’t be on the sports teams with the cool girls so I began skipping meals and counting calories. When friends noticed my calorie counting, I stopped going to the dining hall for meals or would simply eat bread or fruit and ignore the main entrée on my plate. I would skip breakfast because I had to get to school early, tell friends at school I’d had a big breakfast so I could have a small lunch, and tell my parents I had a big lunch or that I ate after school with friends so I didn’t want dinner. The cycle continued when I got to college.
My freshman year of college was probably the worst. I would eat excessive portions of food when I was feeling depressed and then not eat anything for days. As a result, I was the unhealthiest I had ever been and weighed both the most I had ever weighed and the least I had ever weighed within months of each other—no muscle gain or loss involved. I was constantly tired, irate, depressed, and unmotivated. I never wanted to go out or spend a lot of time with any one person.
Over the summer during my study abroad term in Italy, I began to talk my issues through with other people and patch myself up. Being abroad and literally thousands of miles away from my normal life made me feel free and like I had more control over my life. Isolation put things in perspective. I realized that food is social, it makes people happy. I realized that it was okay to eat an entire pizza with a glass (or five) of wine and not feel guilty about it. I realized that you don’t have to be stick-thin and only eating salads to be loved. I began eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner normally with my host family and peers at school.
Since returning from Italy and starting at my new university, I have become a completely new person. I am naturally happier and with that comes more confidence and being more comfortable in who I am as a person. Not that I haven’t had my fair share of relapses, but I know how to control negative impulses and how to get out of negative environments. My motto of “good vibes only” isn’t just me being a California beachy hippie—it is literally what keeps me alive. Me choosing my own happiness is me surviving and I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I choose to see the good over the bad, I am happier, I am stronger, and I know that it is okay to eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream once in a while. The ones who matter are still going to love me anyways. Who needs cool when you have joy?
My name is Meagan Donovan and I’m a 19 year old junior at Chapman University in Southern California. I am double majoring in theater studies and public relations/advertising, emphasizing my studies in the entertainment industry. A fun fact about me is that I’ve been performing since I was in third grade and I love writing my own songs, playing guitar, learning new dance forms, and acting in plays and musicals.