Yesterday, I had the honor of attending the 9th Annual Project Heal Gala, Keys to Recovery. Walking in, I don’t really know what I expected. Perhaps a small group of old philanthropists, how I always envisioned a silent auction in my mind. Instead, what I walked into was so much more meaningful. I was surrounded by a large group of warriors, all who openly talked about their paths toward self-discovery….all like me. I was surrounded by brave women who had conquered the hardest of battles. I was surrounded by fighters, by bosses who mustered the much-needed strength to defeat silence. The hundreds of people in this room, I thought, hold the solution to ending the stigmatization surrounding eating disorders. The hundreds of people in this room, I thought, were going to win this war for us by using their voices as weapons.
These thoughts came to mind especially when my inspiration and idol, Lily Collins, walked on stage. I know that we always connote celebrities as being stuck up and narcissistic, but Lily was just the opposite. Her grace, genuine kindness, and humbleness despite her fame radiated to the crowd. As a recovered anorexic, Lily recently opened up about her past struggles. She described this choice as one of the best in her life….instead of receiving the backlash and criticism she was so scared of, she realized just how many support and love her. She realized that opening up was rewarding beyond what she could ever imagine—by speaking up, she showed others that it was not only fine, but 100% human to have these struggles. By speaking up, she helped give voices to those who had been scared to share their stories before. Of those people Lily moved was me. It is people like her that reminded me that I am not alone that bestowed upon me the essential sense of belonging. (Of course, I totally embarrassed myself saying all this in jumbled words to Lily, but in that moment, I felt unconditionally accepted.)
The point is this: By speaking up and having the strength to share your story, you will inadvertently help the silent majority. Using your voice will in turn cause others to realize that it is ok to use theirs as well. Don’t be ashamed to expose your battle scars, they are only proof of your strength. I guess that is why I am writing this blog. I want you to know that speaking up is by far the most rewarding choice I too have ever made in my life. Even if this blog helps only one person find the strength to speak, I am completely content. I have spoken up loud and proud, and I don’t think I can ever return to the suffocating silence.