After discovering the temporary and short-lasting wonders of eating less, despising yourself, and making constant comparisons, one day you’ll grow.

At age 11, you might venture into the world of counting calories, though you’ll mess up a lot and make little success. At entering high school, you’ll see the cheerleaders in the short skirts and tight crop tops and know that you’d never make the team and fit in. Freshman year is full of comparisons and self-consciously changing in the locker rooms for physical education. The nurse will check your height and weight routinely, embarrassing you by yelling out the weight. If only you were 10 pounds lighter.

Once sophomore year rolls by, you’ve developed a completely distorted image of yourself. Your favorite jeans make your legs look fat, your t-shirts are too tight on your love-handles. Your turtlenecks make you look flat-chested. Nothing’s good enough. If only you were 15 pounds lighter.

Once junior year stress hits, nothing could be worse. It’s self-deprecating really. All your friends are working to lose weight too and they seem to have it under control. You’ve been going to the gym for a couple months now, so where are the results? The only solution is to eat less.

By senior year, prom dress decisions are buzzing. How are you going to get that dream dress of yours if you still need to lose 20 pounds? You’ll look Horrible. Ugly. Fat. How could you let this happen! So you strive to “eat in moderation”, sleep the day away so you won’t feel the urge to eat. Some could call it starving yourself, but you know you’d never do that. You’re not that type of girl. You’re just eating healthier. Making the calorie deficit of 500 calories deepens to 700…800…anything to lose weight faster. Anything to see the numbers on the scale fall. Prom comes around and you look stunning. At least that’s what everyone says to you. But you know better. If only you could have lost those 25 pounds.

Then one day it happens. You’re so close. 7 more pounds to go. The numbers are so addicting; that’s all that matters. The thing is, losing all that weight didn’t make you a happier person. It didn’t solve all your issues like you thought it would. But you’ll leave your hometown, go away to college and suddenly everything is different. Losing weight isn’t the most important thing in the world. It’s a world you’ve never known, a world in which there are no weighing scales in sight. And everything is better. You’re satisfied. You are good enough. You are happy, finally.

And you’ll meet someone who makes you feel like the most special person in the world, someone who assures you over and over again that you’re perfect and it throws you off. Because after days of feeling weak from not eating, you aren’t used to loving yourself. As crazy as it may sound, maybe your mental body distortions were, well, just that. Maybe you didn’t need to lose those 30 pounds. You were good enough to begin with regardless of what anyone said. You’ll realize how much happier you are without the constant comparisons or the daily weight loss goals. Isn’t life so much better when you’re not spending your night crying over your appearance? There’s so much more to happiness.