When I was young, I always wanted to categorize myself. I was always whatever label I felt I fit into: athletic, smart, funny, sarcastic, extroverted.
As I approached college and I lost athletics (we’ll get to that story later), I felt stripped of my identity. Who was I? What was I? What gave my life meaning?
It was so odd to not be able to look in the mirror and say “Oh, I’m the athlete” as I donned my jersey and attempted to cover the assortment of mottled bruises from the previous days practice.
Shortly after, I began to identify with a label that nearly killed me. I decided to be the “healthy girl,” which shortly became “the anorexic.”
My lifelong competitive spirit made me the best damn anorexic you could imagine: eating virtually nothing, exercising to the point of cardiac damage, and hating every inch of the body God gave me for not being thinner, prettier, and stronger.
One day, I decided enough was enough, and I became “The Girl in Recovery.” This girl was much more likable, but for all intents and purposes, still a hot mess. She participated in heinous, ridiculous behaviors like self harm, restriction, over exercise, lashing out, and planning her suicide, but she recognized that these things were wrong. Each time she acted on an impulse, she stopped and reflected. “What caused this?,” “what could I have done differently?,” and “why can’t I stop?” were questions that lived in her head.
As the girl in recovery grew stronger, she found a life changing organization and became “The Girl That Loved to Serve.” She devoted her entire existence to the service of the kids, families, and staff she encountered. Everything was okay as long as she worked crazy hours and poured into everyone around her.
The Girl That Loved to Serve soon realized that there were many like her that were stuck in the purgatory of mental illness, and so she became “The Advocate.” She began to share her struggles in the hopes that others would, like her, find a reason to live.
Now The Advocate has realized that the reason she can never find a title that pleases her for long is because her life cannot be limited to one catchy phrase. Her hopes, dreams, aspirations, and passions are so much more than something that can be fit into a 140 character tweet.
So now, I’ll tell you, the girl that lives for labels has found the label that fits perfectly, a label that she loves, and that she plans to keep for life. That girl is actually me, and I am Victoria: Completely, freely, and unapologetically Me.