Travelling really opens up your eyes as to how small we are on this big planet.
It makes us realise that, in the grand scheme of things, trivial things we worry about at home are truly irrelevant. To me, it has been a fundamental feature in changing my life for the better.
When I was younger, I was bullied for being ‘fat’ and ‘ugly’. For as long as I can remember, I used to look in the mirror and feel upset by what I saw as a result. When I was eleven, I started dieting and going to the gym to make myself feel better… but it only made things worse. I developed an unhealthy addiction to tracking calories eaten and burned, I would spend hours researching the best methods to lose weight and feel depressed if I even put on as much as 0.1lb.
I was beyond skinny, but I was still unhappy.
This is how I spent most of my teenage life. I truly believed that if I starved myself enough, I would be beautiful and people would like me. All I ever wanted was for people to like me, but my eating disorder actually pushed my friends away. Scared of ever eating more than 500 calories a day, I wasn’t my funny, bubbly self anymore… I was just an empty shell.
When I went to college, I met my boyfriend, Mike. We started going out in December 2013, and I was still addicted to calorie counting. While my female friends never wanted to offend me, he called me out! “Why are you doing this?” he used to ask. He’d get mad at me and tell me I was beautiful the way I was. It was the first time anyone had ever acknowledged my eating disorder and told it where to go! He helped me start eating more and gain some confidence.
After we had been seeing each other for a few months, we started planning some trips. We both had an ambition to see the world and experience as many different countries and cultures as we could.
In the past four and a half years, we have travelled all over the place and had so many incredible experiences.
While I started out still worrying about my weight all the time, I began to realise how ridiculous it is to be worrying over calories when there’s an entire world out there to explore.
Also, how food is actually one of the best things about travelling and immersing yourself in an exciting new culture!
Plus, I began to enjoy taking pictures and even being in them. Travelling allowed me to gain confidence in my own appearance again, regardless of whether or not I ‘fit in’ with other people. It made me realise that a few bullies at home were not the be all and end all in life, in fact, they were remarkably small and insignificant.
Everyone in the world has beauty – regardless of their outer appearance. Travelling the world only made me realise that more – we are all so unique… and that is an amazing thing to celebrate! I mean, if we all looked like supermodels, it would be a pretty boring world to live in right?
Fast forward to today.
While I would love to say that I am completely over my eating disorder, I would be lying. My old demons come back to haunt me sometimes, to tell me I’m not pretty enough, not skinny enough. But here I am, writing this blog post to share with you all – and that is my biggest success. I think everyone gets feelings of self-doubt from time to time, but having the courage to tell those feelings where to go is one of my greatest achievements.
At the beginning of 2018, I finally pushed myself to start my own fashion and travel blog. It has been a real test to my confidence, but I am really loving the journey so far. My aim is to help people who, like me, struggle with feelings of low self-worth and to tell them – you’re amazing, just the way you are.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lydia Jane Alice
Lydia is a 22 year old history student, fashion and travel lover. She has upcoming trips to Morocco, Malaysia and Indonesia!