• Shannon Brault

November 2019 Recap

How is it already December?? As the new decade approaches, I feel lost, but also as if I am growing into the person I need to be. November was probably one of the fastest months of my life, yet it was so jammed packed with activities, learning experiences, some successes and some let downs. It is so crazy to me to think that in a month it will be 2020. It’s a terrifying, yet exciting thought. I have sat down so many times this last month trying to write this post, but it always felt like there was something missing, which happens to be a common theme in my life and situations currently. Reflection and vulnerability are all too underrated in today’s day and age, and this blog is my way of doing just that. Being vulnerable, being brave, sharing my story and reflecting on all that life has to offer. I tend to put way too much pressure on myself to reach this somewhat unobtainable goal of perfection. Since college has started, I’ve realized just how many things we are all feeling at the same time and never know. We’re all striving for this “perfect life” that has zero defining borders and often times we are chasing empty promises. 2019 has been a great year of growth, and there will be more on that to come, but November was an inspiring month of finding who you are, what your place is in the world and the fact that all things take time.

November is a month that means a lot to me. Over the years the meaning has changed, but nonetheless it has been a special time full of change and growth. This November was especially special as it was my one year anniversary of going to the Emily Program for round two of eating disorder treatment. Last November I went to the Emily Program’s 25-anniversary event where Jessie Diggins was the keynote speaker. I had decided I still needed the help I wasn’t fully interested in six years ago and I went in for my intake appointment three days after. What a crazy year full of growth it has been. Looking back on the last year, my mind is utterly blown by the amount I have grown. I focused on being the best and healthiest me I could be and continue to strive for that with each passing day.

Here is a little November recap with some fabulous lessons I learned or was reminded of along the way:

the first weekend in November was so incredibly special. I drove home on November 1st for the Alessia Cara concert at Mystic Lake with my sister. I have been listening to Alessia Cara for about 4 years now and she is a light in my life. I have a massive friend crush on her... like I really want to be her best friend. She is so kind and sweet and caring and genuine (Of course I have never met her, but that’s the way she comes across). I saw her open for Shawn Mendes, so seeing her headline her own tour was amazing. This semester had a lot of proposed obstacles and her music has helped me through so many situations in my life over the years. I remember being 16 and screaming the lyrics to her songs in the car after school until I was either crying or nearly in tears. There have been a few songs that have stuck out to be a lot more lately, including her song Out of Love. Now, when she opened for Shawn Mendes she had a beautiful intro to the song and I just knew she was going to do it again and I was so excited. She asked how many people in the crowd have been heartbroken and how many people were heartbroken right now. She then went on to say:

“Because this next song I want to sing to you is about having your heartbroken, so I just wanted to gauge how many people were going through that right now. First of all as a reminder to you guys that there are so many people that are in the same boat even when you think that they’re not and as you can see, look at how many people raised their hands. So, I mean I say that because when I’m going through a hard time, especially a heartbreak, it always feels like I’m the only sad person in the world and everyone else is just frolicking happily and everything’s great, and so I just wanted to remind you guys, even though you know how many people go through the very same thing at the very same time. You’re not alone. It’s a part of life, you know going through these painful, painful moments and confusing moments and difficult moments. I think at the very end of the day they really just help us become who we are and they are necessary for us to grow and to figure out what we want and to figure out who we are. They just help us learn so much about ourselves even though they’re so painful. The beauty of them is that they’re temporary and we become so much better because of these things. You guys are super smart and I know you already know that, but it’s just good to have a reminder and if any of you are going through something similar right now, just take this as a sign to just to breathe and let yourself feel what your feeling, but at the same time try and let any negative energy go even if its for an hour or for as long as you’re here tonight. Just breathe out, exhale, cleanse yourself of all of those emotions and just know that you’re going to be okay.”

THAT. WAS. BEAUTIFUL. AND. SO. IMPORTANT. I’m nearing the end of my first semester of college and I will be the first to tell you that I had a rough time. I truly believe that no one really enjoys their first semester or first year even. At first, it was really frustrating because no one tells you how hard college actually is. No one tells you how hard it is to transition, to make lasting friendships, to figure out what you want to do and discover who you are outside of everything you’ve ever known really. It's just tough, but looking back on the semester and all the craziness and chaos that happened, I know it was necessary. I grew so much in 15 weeks from all these situations. I learned so many things about other people, the world and myself just by these situations and lessons that could never fully be taught in a classroom. Everything in life is temporary. All good things and all the bad things. All situations and relationships to an extent, but the only person that is with you your entire life is you. You also live your entire life in your head, and with each passing day, I am learning how important it is to make sure your head is a great place to be.

On Saturday, November 2nd, my mom and I went to the live recording of the podcast “Peace Meal” through the Emily Program where Jessie Diggins and Jana Shortal were the special guests (so, of course, we had to go). Mom and I walked in and I didn’t know what to expect. We sat there and just listened to these two amazing women talk about their experiences “making peace with themselves”. It was incredibly influential and heartwarming. We walked up to them afterward for pictures and autographs and I looked at my mom not knowing what to say to two of my role models standing right in front of me. Jessie looked at me and was like “Hey! How are you, sweetheart?” And I was like “omg I didn’t know if you would remember me” and she’s like “of course!”. She then gave me a giant hug and it was the most amazing thing and still to this day makes me smile. Mom and I stood there talking to them for a while. We had realized that this was our third year seeing Jessie at the beginning of November, almost to the day. We determined this is our anniversary that we have to see her every year and I talked to her about skiing and I talked to Jana about wanting to be a journalist. Seeing Alessia Cara, Jessie Diggins and Jana Shortal in a matter of 24 hours were crazy and amazing. All three of them are large role models for me and it was so fulfilling to hear all of them speak some wisdom into my life. All three of them are amazing and awesome and I wish to be as amazing as them someday. It is also crazy for me to think about how all three of these women are not super well known. They aren’t these massive stars that everyone knows about, but they are some of the realist people I have ever met/crossed paths with.

Disclaimer: This isn’t an ad, but if you find the time sometime, listen to the Podcast Peace Meal by the Emily program, and look for the episode with these two amazing women. I could write a whole novel on this podcast. It was so incredibly amazing to see live and listen to and I feel as if it is really important for everyone to listen to it.

I have been listening to the Peace Meal podcast this entire year, but this episode was by far my favorite. It was a reminder than we are always changing. Life is always changing and we need to adapt to the twists and turns. It was a reminder that we don't have to have it all figured out right now because our whole lives can be this wonderful journey of self-exploration. There are struggles and there are challenges, but it all helps us become the people we are meant to be.

"That story came from running towards being somebody that was defined by really nobody and trying to be this perfect version that I knew I was never going to get to and that I was just fine as I am. My point is for me, at least in my story it didn't end at 14 or 15 or 22 or 35. I'm 42 now and we're still on this journey of figuring out who we are - all of us. No matter our gender, no matter our age, and I think we can be honest with each other that there are good days and bad days and that you can struggle and you can win gold medals, win emmies and hit the bottom and bounce right back up. I think we all do better that way."

- Jane Shortal

November also consisted of me running more (which is crazy because I refused to run in high school), developing deeper connections and friendships with my pals, adulting (phone calls, emails and everything), dealing with a million things in my life all at the same time, and giving a speech for my class on eating disorders and why it is crucial that insurance companies begin to fully cover treatment (something I would've been too afraid to talk about a year ago). I also went to a pow wow, an African appreciation dinner, a Quince and the Score concert.

You know, for a good part of this semester I felt crushed. I have felt like my life is ending when in reality it’s just beginning. I’ve spent so much time trying to peer into the future to see what it holds and what the best paths are to take. I’ve been living in a constant state of anxiety that has actually had me moving backwards instead of forwards. I’ve been asking all these questions that don’t have answers and I’ve just been devastated and confused by the fact that there’s no way of knowing. I feel like I have to have my entire life figured out and I’m only 19. I was once told that you make a decision in life only to turn around and make another. I get so overwhelmed with not knowing the outcomes of situations that the abundance of options that I love turn into something that I loathe. I get overwhelmed and I shut down and become numb to everything around me, unsure as to how to move on. It’s crippling honestly and if I’m being transparent, it’s been this way for a while. It’s like looking into a mucky pond expecting to see your reflection and being unable to even make out the shape of your shadow. Maybe it’s hard for me because I thrive off of feeling important and feeling like I belong. I thrive off of being on teams of people. People all going for the same goal with their own goals in mind and with people who are there for you always. I miss being in a group where I have a place and where I feel like I belong because I haven’t gotten that yet. No one ever tells you how difficult the first year of college is, especially the first semester. Everyone is trying to make it seem like they’re having so much fun on social media when in reality, so many of those same people are going through the same things.

Even with all of this, I am so incredibly thankful for the lessons and the growth that has happened the entire semester, but especially in November. Life throws curveballs at you sometimes and you have to learn how to adapt and make the most of them. Life is so beautiful, though sometimes it can feel like the beauty is hard to find. It's like the quote from Ferris Bueller's Day Off: "Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it".

As I mentioned before, November was a very special month for me because it was the anniversary of when I began treatment at the Emily Program. I'm very passionate about eating disorder prevention, advocacy and education and it is crazy for me to look back on how afraid I was to bring it up and how open I am about it now. I made it a goal for myself to speak up whenever I could. We like to hide the things about ourselves that aren't necessarily favorable. Usually, I would say that when talking about makeup, diets, certain clothing, photoshop, etc, but I think we do it with situations too. For so long I never wanted to talk about my experience with an eating disorder because of the stigma and the pitty. In my mind, there were only two reactions: people wouldn't understand and would judge you, or people wouldn't understand and would treat you differently as if they needed to walk on eggshells around you. The reality is that we need to begin having these conversations about our relationships with food and with our bodies. We need to discuss the things that make us uncomfortable and that we tend to ignore. I feel very blessed to have family and friends that support me through all these situations and challenges, even when I challenge them on their views.

Like Jessie Diggins, I'm here because the journey hasn't been perfect, but that's the whole point. Jessie and Jana are two of my role models because "I needed someone to tell me you don't need to be perfect to win. You can make mistakes, you can not love yourself every single day, but find a way to be okay with who you are and you can still win without having to feel perfect all the time". These two amazing women, as well as Alessia Cara and the amazing friends I am surrounded by each and every day, are reminders of just that. Life is perfectly imperfect, but that is what makes it beautiful. I always tell people that my life is never boring because there is always something going on. There is always a journey occurring in all of our lives and it's up to us to take the experience and grow from it, or run away from them and simply survive.

I am incredibly thankful for this last month of my life and I will have a full update on my semester soon.

Thanks for reading and joining me on this adventure. Remember that you are perfect just as you are and life is a series of detours that leads you to where you need to be.



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