Caralyn is the writer and speaker behind the blog, BeautyBeyondBones. She’s a twenty-something actress and writer in New York City. Having battled a severe case of anorexia herself, she now uses her story of total restoration to positively impact others, and offer hope and encouragement for those with eating disorders, and other forms of adversity. She is currently in the final revisions of an upcoming book, and has plans for another, shortly after! When she’s not writing and acting, she enjoys exploring the city with friends, singing, and living in the abundant freedom of a life, free from ED! Read on to hear some advice Caralyn would offer to her younger self…
You know what I love doing?
Looking back at old pictures from middle school/early high school.
I mean, the fashions, the hair styles, the flip phones, the boys I had crushes on. It is just a blast from the past.
And let’s be real, it wasn’t thaaat long ago. But given every twist and turn my life has taken thus far, it feels like a lot of life has been lived since then.
I developed anorexia when I was 16. And looking back and reflecting on those delicate and formative years, I can see traces of the disease creep in at various points in my adolescence.
I think we all have things on our hearts that -in hindsight- we wish we could say to our former selves. Nuggets of sage wisdom that could have been helpful.
So here’s 10 things I would say, given everything I know now. Things that recovered me would say to a budding young me, on the brink of succumbing to what would be a long battle with ED.
Dear Fifteen-Year-Old Me,
Freshman year can be a pretty scary time. New high school. Older boys. Drivers licenses. Changing bodies. Navigating it can be tough. So here’s a little help…
1. Relationships are important. Invest in the people who know who you really are, and love every quirk and imperfection. At a sleepover, if you can’t wear your retainer or walk around in sweats with them…reevaluate.
2. Mischa Barton from The OC is pretty awesome, but you don’t need a boy to rescue you. And while we’re at it: stop idolizing her body type. You’re not 5’10.” You never will be. And being waif-thin is not something to gamble your life for.
3. Everyone’s bodies change at different paces. No, your body may not look like your voluptuous friend, but that doesn’t make you any less beautiful, or any less worthy of being loved. Just be patient. Bikinis aren’t everything. And being able to fill out a Victoria’s Secret bikini isn’t the “be all, end all.” Nor is having your ribs show.
4. Boys will say a lot of things. Good and bad. But never let that determine how you feel about yourself. Or how you dress. Or wear your hair. Or who you’re friends with.
5. Knowing the dance to High School Musical is great, but that’s not real life. High school is not idealistic, and boys won’t serenade you like Zac Efron. Don’t expect them to.
6. Don’t dismiss people because they belong to a certain “group.” People are people. And they can surprise you. But you have to give them a chance. And the “cool” table, is full of just people.
7. Getting good grades is important, but not at the expense of your mental health. Get a B. You will be okay.
8. Don’t do the beauty pageant. Just don’t do it. There’s more to you than your outer beauty. Being judged by how you look in a bikini is frankly stupid. You are so much more than that. Oh yeah – and stop going to the tanning bed. Like, immediately. Your skin will thank you later.
9. You are enough. Just as you are. You don’t have to be the lead in every school play. You don’t have to play varsity sports. You don’t have to sit at the “cool” table. You don’t have to get straight A’s. You don’t have to wear a size 0. You are enough. Just by being you. You don’t have to earn your worth.
10. Let people love you. The real you. You don’t have to put on the air of not caring what other people think. You have feelings and emotions, and that’s important. Honor them. Feel them. Share them. Your heart is a beautiful temple. Protect it, but don’t be afraid to show it.
High school is kinda like a big game of poker. Everybody has insecurities. Everybody’s in the same boat, a little bit over their head, just trying to figure it out. And everybody’s trying to put on their best poker face that they’ve got it all together. Spoiler alert: they don’t.
The sooner you realize that you are beautiful just as you are, and that your worth doesn’t come from any of these superficial things, the more abundantly you will live.
Respect and accept your body. Listen to your parents. Stop striving for perfection.
You are enough. Right now.
Your older and wiser self ????
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