December 01, 2022

Three Things Thursday: Things I Wish I Knew As a Kid

While I was painting my bedroom today, I was trying to think of a topic for "three things" today. I have no idea where this one came from, but I thought it would be interesting: Three Things I Wish I Knew As a Kid.

When I say "kid", I'm just referring to younger days--say, up to age 25 or so. When I still had no clue how the world worked ;)

1. Stretch marks and loose skin are permanent.

This may sound very shallow, but back when I was a teenager, I guess I never really thought about it. I remember getting stretch marks on my upper arms first; followed by my upper thighs. I had no idea what they were! If I had known, I don't know if it would have stopped me from binge eating or overeating in general, but even when I learned what stretch marks were, I guess I assumed they would go away when I lost weight.

I remember being on a class trip in eleventh grade and I was sitting with a boy I liked. He (innocently) asked me "what happened" to my arm (he genuinely didn't know what stretch marks were). I was embarrassed and told him that I'd burned it when I was a kid, so it was scarred. (From that moment on, though, I stopped wearing anything sleeveless.)

Hmmm... after writing this, it makes me wonder if, later on, when he learned what stretch marks were, did he feel embarrassed for asking?

It just seems so unfair that the choices we make as children (I think I started binge eating when I was about 10--maybe even a little younger) can cause permanent damage and we don't get a second chance. I've never known what it feels like to have a flat stomach without stretch marks or very saggy thighs (I have a lot of loose skin there as well as stretch marks). I've never been able to wear shorts (not just because of how they look, but because it was never comfortable when my thighs would rub together). 

Something I found fascinating recently, however, was that Eli discovered stretch marks in a couple of spots where he's built a lot of muscle. He lifts weights and probably lifts the heaviest in his class; yesterday, he benched 275 pounds! (The average adult male benches about 135 pounds.) I asked him if the stretch marks bothered him, and he said no--that in the gym, guys see them as sign of impressive strength. Is that interesting?! 

But anyway, I do wish I had known that if I made better choices, I wouldn't have stretched and scarred skin as an adult. Which leads me to my second one...

2) Tanning is horrible for your skin.

I used to go to a tanning salon with my friend Sarah in high school; we'd probably go 2-3 times a week. I thought it was completely innocent! Girls would lie on the beach to tan or, in the colder months, go to tanning beds. I wish I knew then that Sarah was going to die at age 31 from melanoma--maybe we wouldn't have gone tanning.

When we think of smoking cigarettes, we know it pretty much goes hand-in-hand with lung cancer. That was drilled into my brain when I was in elementary school--"don't smoke or you'll get lung cancer". Nobody warned us of tanning, though. Did you know that more people get skin cancer from indoor tanning than people who get lung cancer from smoking? (source). That's fascinating!

I also remember being told that it was healthy to have a tan. Tans were safe--a healthy glow--but sunburns were miserable for "a few days". I wish I had known that there is no such thing as a safe tan and that the damage has already been done--you can't untoast bread, and in this case, your skin is the bread. ("You can't untoast bread" is one of my favorite analogies and I probably use it way too frequently! Haha)

When I was about 15, I went camping with a friend and her family. She immediately wanted to lie on the beach to get a tan. Even though I am not a fan of the beach OR the sun, I agreed. A few hours later, I had blisters on my face, neck, and arms. It was the worst sunburn I'd ever had. I didn't know it at the time, but it increased my risk of skin cancer by a ridiculous amount. 

Whether it's from sunburn or tanning, skin damage accumulates from the very first tan or burn. ONE indoor tanning session before age 35 increases your risk of melanoma by 75%! (source) Would I still have tanned if I knew that back then? Maybe. Was it worth the risk? Heck no! I have sun damage on my face that was caused from my teenage years.

Okay, enough of the public service announcements, haha. 

3. When people are mean to you, *most* of the time it's because they're insecure about themselves.

When I was in the fourth grade, I was teased mercilessly by a boy named Richard. I never knew that I was overweight until he started calling me "Shamu" and doing things like putting a sign on my back that said "Wide Load" (yes, that really happened). I became a wallflower. I tried not to draw any attention to myself and I started dieting to try to lose weight. In fourth grade! I think this was around the time I started binge eating and eating in secret, as well; I was ashamed.

In retrospect, I can clearly see the signs that Richard didn't have a great home life. He had dirty, greasy hair and was also more overweight than I was--but I didn't think of that back then. I never noticed it at the time, but he didn't have any friends. I also wasn't the only one he made fun of; my friend Sarah (a different one) was nicknamed "Snots" because she had to blow her nose a lot. He also asked her if she wanted him to bring her some turtle wax because her dad was bald. BAHAHA! It's so funny to think about now--if I had known back then what I do now, I would probably be an entirely different person today.

It's something I've tried to teach my boys; and maybe my parents even tried to teach it to me but I just didn't listen. If you're not "cool" in high school, it feels like your life might as well be over. And then later in life, you learn that it's usually the "uncool" kids who are the most successful and interesting adults!

I'm glad that I was never the bully in school, but I do wish I'd stood up for the kids who were bullied. If I could go back in time, I would have befriended them and not stand by while people made fun of them. When I think back to how badly some kids were teased, it makes me wonder how they managed to make it through high school. And I certainly hope that they can see now that their bullies were probably insecure and just projecting those feelings on someone they perceived as an easy target.

So there it is... in a nutshell, I wish I'd have known to take good care of my body because what we do as kids can cause permanent damage; and I wish I'd have been my 100% true self without caring one iota of what people thought of me!

1 comment:

  1. This one warmed my heart. I want to hug all of our younger selves.


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