This past Sunday, after months of hard work (and lots of procrastination, too) I turned in the fully revised copy of the 35-page honors thesis that I wrote as the pièce de résistance of my undergraduate educational career. The moment that paper was transferred from my hands to someone else’s, I sighed with relief.

Over. Done. Finally.

The ideas for this paper had been rattling around in my head for a couple of years, so to say that this took a load off my shoulders would be an understatement. This was a big deal, and it’s hard to believe it’s mostly over and done with.

I say mostly because I still have to defend the paper—I have to stand up in front of a committee consisting of the professors, mentors, and scholars that I most greatly admire and that have walked with me down this path toward academic completion, and I have to prove to them that what I’ve dedicated the past several months—or years to, really—has been worth the time, effort, and investment. I have to stand up and defend what I’ve done, what I’ve learned, what I think, what I feel. I have to explain why I’m so passionate about this work and this field of study. I have to prove that I have earned the right to join other academics in saying that I really and truly specialize in something and that I have acquired the knowledge worthy of receiving noted academic honors and a standing of excellence.

For the past several months, I’ve been mentally preparing for this, but probably not in the way that you think. I haven’t stood in front of my bathroom mirror and polished up on my public speaking skills—no. For months, I’ve been standing in front of my bathroom mirror looking at myself, turning from side to side, poking and prodding the body that, day by day, is drastically changing. For months, I’ve been looking at dresses online and in store front windows, dreaming of being small enough and confident enough to slip one on so that I could look and feel pretty and feminine and professional and like I belonged in the world of academia that I am (hopefully) about to be welcomed into.

Today, I went shopping for that dress.

And it was really, really, really hard.

I went to a handful of stores—literally, I went to five—and I tried on about 50 dresses, only to end up finding two that I “sort of” liked.

I stood underneath flickering, glaring lights in front of full-length mirrored walls, and I was at a loss as to what to think or do.

I grabbed jackets and dresses galore in all sorts of styles and sizes and cuts and colors and shapes, and unlike most women who probably get at least a little joy out of the “thrill” of shopping, I was absolutely miserable. The whole time. For me, there was no enjoyment in the process whatsoever.

There, in the confined walls of five different fitting rooms, I looked at myself, five different times, and, like a true academic, I critically assessed and analyzed what I saw.

I looked at myself through eyes that can now recognize change and transformation. I looked at myself through eyes that have come to know the meaning of true hard work, dedication, determination, and discipline. I looked at myself through eyes that can now appreciate what it means to physically look healthier. I looked at myself through eyes that can say, “so much better.”

And I was proud of myself. I was proud of the fact that I had to take back all of my first round dress and jacket picks because the XXL pieces I’d chosen were all much too big for my now-smaller frame. I was proud of the fact that I could universally slip on size XLs without bursting out of them or tearing them at the seams. I was proud of the fact that I could physically see the manifestation of my hard work.

But, in spite of being proud and recognizing and admiring my accomplishments, I was also very, very sad. And each time I pulled on a dress that wouldn’t quite lay “just right” because of the loose skin on my stomach or the lumps and bumps of fat that I still carry with me each day, or that wouldn’t conceal my stretch mark and cellulite-laden arms, or that just simply wasn’t flattering on my figure, I cried. And I cried. And I cried.

I cried mostly in mourning of the body that I’ve always wanted and that I felt that I “should” have always had that, unfortunately, is now forever out of reach. Standing amongst those piles of beautiful dresses, I admitted what I’ve subconsciously known for quite sometime now: no matter what I do from this point forward, no matter how much weight I lose, my body is not ever going to be what I dreamed that it would be.


I have loose skin.

And 90 lbs. down from now, I’m going to have more loose skin.

I have stretch marks. Hundreds of them. Everywhere.

And 90 lbs. down from now, they are probably going to be even more noticeable.

I have done terrible, terrible, terrible things to my body.

And 90 lbs. down from now, there will still be evidence of that abuse and mistreatment.

None of this is ever going to go away.

There will always be reminders.

And that makes me really, really, really sad.

I bought a dress that I only sort of like, and I haven’t taken the tags off of it yet because there’s a part of me that wants to return it.

In fact, there’s a part of me that wants to return everything—the dress, the jacket, the shoes—that I bought today and just exchange everything for some slacks and a semi-dressy shirt and call it a day.

I’m not a dress wearer.

I am most happy, comfortable, and confident in jeans and t-shirts, so I’d probably be much happier, comfortable, and confident in something more familiar, like slacks and a shirt or blouse.

I don’t feel like myself in a dress… I don’t feel like myself at all. 

But I bought the dress anyways because, if I’m being honest, I don’t even know who “myself” is anymore.

Lately, I’ve been really melancholy and prone to emotional outbursts.

Something is amiss, but I don’t know what it is. My happiness is so finicky and fleeting.

Things that I thought would mean more to me just… don’t.

Prior to pursuing my current field of study (writing and linguistics) in college, I was actually in nursing school. I had taken AP courses in high school, and during my senior year, I also took a couple of science classes through a local university here in Denver, so when I started college in the fall of 2011, I was actually noticeably further along in my studies than most of my classmates.

I hated nursing, though. It made me miserable.

I remember feeling a lot like this actually—a lot like I am now.

I felt out of place and disenfranchised from the rest of the future nurses, doctors, and dentists that I was studying with.

The reason I finally quit nursing school, though, was because one sunny day in mid-October, the girl sitting next to me in a chemistry lecture said, “Even though we’re all miserable and our studying often ends in tears and we’ve all failed quizzes and partial portions of exams because there’s just too much to do and to know… I know it’ll all be worth it in the end. I know that we’re doing the right thing and that our dreams are going to come true.” 

I never went to another chem lecture again, and I dropped out of the program the next day.

Do you know why?

I quit because, right then and there, I knew that I wasn’t going to be happy with the end result. I knew that, to me, it wasn’t going to be “worth it.”

Sometimes I feel like that about weight loss.


I don’t feel like that all the time, but I do feel like that sometimes.

Everyone always tries to tell me that whatever I’m worried about isn’t as bad as being fat, and, in a lot of ways, that’s true. But a lot of the things that I’m worried about do matter to me, and they aren’t things that I can just “get over” and immediately say, Yeah. This problem is better than the other problem.This isn’t as bad as being fat.

I wish that I could say that. But I don’t actually believe that—not really.

So therein lies the problem, right?

Therein lies the melancholy, too, methinks.

I don’t want to make it sound like I’m “falling off the wagon” or that I don’t see or think about all of the good things that are better than being fat that I’ve gotten out of this journey already and that I will continue to get out of it, because that’s not the case.

I know that, in a lot of ways, I’m a much better person now than I was “before,” and I also know that that’s likely to continue to improve.

However, in the interest of full disclosure, I think it’s worth saying that I certainly don’t see the good or think about the good every single day, and I also don’t have easy, doubt-free days every day.

Today was a hard day, and it’s not the first and it certainly won’t be the last, but it was hard, nevertheless.

Today was a day of doubt.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.



9 thoughts on “Doubt.

  1. I hope tomorrow will be beautiful. These bad days suck, and I can’t write anything that will make it suck less. I just want you to feel supported
    Even when you feel terrible, you’re doing great. Keep being true to yourself and honest with your readers. We love you

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Dear Rachel,

    Why do you have to wear a dress? Today, especially business women, wear pant suits. Go shopping for a pant suit.

    Do not return dress until you find something better and you will find something better.

    My husband used to cut stones for jewelery. He hasn’t done this in a while due to other interests. But he would cut something that was so beautiful it took my breathe away.
    I would tell him how beautiful it was. He would tell me where each and every flaw/ crack was. I couldn’t see it, but that was what he focused on- the flaws.
    None the less- that jewel was beautiful. It sparkled and reflected the light beautifully so that all who saw it remarked on its beauty.

    You are a jewel. You been working on shaping this jewel for a while now. Jewels are ground down and polished. It is a painful process.
    Like my husband you are focused on the flaws and cracks but all the others can see is the beauty and sparkle.

    (Lord, open her eyes to see how You see her – as one of Your beautiful jewels.
    Lead her to the perfect outfit that will make her feel complete, pretty and smart, very smart. For we all know she is brilliant.
    Grant her favor with those professors that will be critiquing her work. Bring to her rememberance all the words that need to be spoken. Thank you for hearing our prayers. Amen)

    Advice from an old woman:
    You are young, therefore over time the strength marks will fade.
    If you want to, they make a cream that pregnant moms use that fades stretch marks. I think it works on scars too. Ask at the drug store.
    For any extra skin that won’t go back in place, I’ve heard that surgery works. I know, scary.
    Be glad you are making these positive life changes while you are young. At my age 62, there are a lot of sags, wrinkles, etc.
    But I do look good with clothes on. Ha ha!

    My dear precious child, don’t listen to the lies of defeat. You are going through a lot of changes. Change is hard, but you are victorious. You can/ will be able to do this.

    “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
    Philippians 1:6

    If I , an old woman can cut grass on a riding lawn mower for the first time in my life and survive. You can buy an outfit to make you feel successful. Hmm?
    Maybe that’s the problem? You are looking for an outfit to make you look pretty. But for this occasion, you need to look professional, successful, and business minded. I suggest another shopping trip for a outfit focusing on a professional look, not a pretty look.
    Try that.
    Expecting a good report
    Mee maw Debbie

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Good morning, Rachael.

    I understand. Really, I do. I have the same self-doubts you do, just wrapped in a dude’s body. I see the damage done, and wish that I’d never gotten to where I was a year ago, and I know that the scars of my past will be with me for a lifetime. I cry sometimes too.

    And, I get that it isn’t about the dresses. Sure, you could just wear pants and a blouse, and I am sure that would be completely acceptable. But that isn’t the point. You have (had?) an idealized version of what you wanted to look like, and you fear that you’ll never be there. I don’t know if that is true or not, what I do know is that the fear is very real to you, and the hurt is very real.

    But it isn’t about the dress. To use a very tired turn of phrase, it is about your own comfort level within your skin. You aren’t there yet, and neither am I. And, I would bet, neither are most of the men and women who follow your blog and write their on.

    I could sit here and spew out all the platitudes about how how great it is that you have come this far, and how great it will be when you go further. But you know all that.

    I suspect that some of your self-doubt is coming because you also have to defend your recent-life’s work to a group of people who will poke and prod. And you are taking that fear out on your own body. But, that is just dime store psychology.

    For now, I offer you a hug and the knowledge that you are not alone. I know you aren’t falling off the proverbial wagon. And I know that you know where you are headed health wise is the right direction.

    Hang in there, beautiful. You are going to be ok, I promise. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, as always, for this wonderful comment, Bobby.

      I think you, better than anyone, got the gist of my “problem.” It wasn’t so much about the dress as it was about realizing that my idealized version of myself—the “me” that I’d always hoped to be when I was “skinny”—was probably never going to appear. And, yes, it absolutely was about my own comfort level in my own skin. It’s hard to keep up with your body when it’s constantly changing. I’m losing weight (almost) every week, and my body is showing the signs of it, but my mind isn’t quite there. I feel like a stranger within my own skin sometimes!

      Thank you for making me feel like I’m not alone in that. It’s nice to know that you have doubts and issues with being comfortable in your own skin, too. We are all a work in progress, I suppose!

      Thanks, Bobby! ❤


  4. Whose ideals of beauty are they really? Are they actually yours? Or representations of what the media makes you think a woman should look like? Why do you think this way? Ask a lot of questions from yourself and try to find the answers to it. Question every single thought you have about body image, and truly consider “Why do I think this way?” and also, I hope you don’t think weight loss is all about changing your body.

    The journey of weight loss is a journey of growth as well. Mental growth and you’ve improved a lot on that aspect, but a lot more work needs to be done.

    Many neglect the importance of it. It’s far more important than the number on the scale, or what the measuring tape says. The importance of getting it straight what you see in the mirror, and what your goals actually are. Who do you want to be – not what – but who.

    If that is not worked over just as intensely you will end up feeling empty, awkward and full on lost once you’ve reached your goal weight. That’s just a sad fact of it, it’s not enough to work your body – if you want a lasting change to your life. Happiness will not be brought by a scale reading, happiness is something you create all around you every single day.

    I’ve now spent the last 2-3 months just… sitting still with my weight, I’ve lost 4lbs, I’ve gained 4lbs, just maintaining and living the life in the way it makes sense for me. I look at myself in the mirror and I see all the flaws, every single one yet they don’t bother me. I’ve worked on the mental aspect of it and I’ve had several epiphanies within me in the last few months. My body has calmed down and my body image has become to accept the body I have currently as the new starting point of a different journey. If that makes any sense to you. The person that was before, does not represent the person that is today.

    I have scars, far more than you can imagine as an ex-cutter and as a person that has been closer to 380lbs at one point of his life. I’ve dropped and gained +-80lbs more than once in my life. I’ve been there, and I vowed to myself I’ll never get back there. When I set out to my current journey, I was filled with hope that I’d never do it again, this time it would be permanent, I’d do it right.

    And I think I’m there, because I’m okay with who I have become, what I look like and accept the scars as signs of life. They’re my marks of battle and representations of my past, an irremovable part of me. They are me. I love myself, and love does not require for the subject to be perfect, as what is perfect to begin with. A fleeting image, an ideal, that is unobtainable. I am happy I’ve made it this far, and the road ahead of me is ever brighter as I take my small steps on it with a smile.

    You will make it there, if you work on it. It’s not something you wake up to. There won’t be a morning out of the blue where you’ll go “you know what I kick ass, I’m great, I love myself and what I have become”, that doesn’t happen, it’s a pipe dream. You have to work. Mold your mind to find value in who you are, instead of what you look like. Since what you look like, should have very little impact on how you are feeling inside. You are worth it, you are beautiful, and you will make it.

    You can do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I really appreciate your honesty. I have felt this way too. One thing that really stood out to me was about your stretch marks – I have them too. I try not to look at them as horrible things I’ve done to my body, but as reminders of what I’ve accomplished by losing the weight and, more importantly, making healthier choices regardless of how much weight we lose. They are my tiger stripes. I try to see them with a sense of pride. Also, even skinny and lean people have stretch marks. They are natural and can’t be helped. They shouldn’t be a reminder of our bad choices, but a reminder of how far we have come from those choices. I wish you all the best through this low period. Be proud of yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I completely understand how difficult all of this is, especially mentally, so I don’t want to come off sounding melancholy about all of this but we’re all here to be your voice of reason and that’s exactly what I plan to do. Don’t look at your stretch marks as evidence of abuse and mistreatment. That was the old you. That was the past and you don’t live there anymore. You have come so far, not only in weight loss, but the person it has helped you become. Those are evidence of loyalty to yourself, perseverance, hard work, and strength. You are absolutely beautiful and do not let that mirror tell you otherwise. Next time it tries, tell it kiss your ass. I have to do that pretty often…

    Liked by 1 person

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