Kellyn Simpkin-Strong Girl Back One Arm

The Freshman 15 was the Best Thing that Ever Happened to Me

I came into my freshman year at the College of Charleston as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as could be. I could not wait to eat cereal at 3 am and not have my parents tell me to go to bed. I was so excited to be an adult and do adult things. Then I learned with such adulthood comes the crippling anxiety and depression of being away from home and having to run your own life. Once I got to college, I realized that no one was going to motivate me to go to class or in general, and that caused me to fall behind. I honestly got really down in the dumps, and it took a great toll on my body.

Throughout high school, like many other girls, I dealt with severe body issues. I guess I thought college would be a fresh start. However, once I got into my fall semester, all of the other stress took over, and I let my body health fall to the side. I danced throughout high school to stay in shape. But once I got in college, I stopped dancing altogether. So, not only did I not have a creative outlet, but it meant my exercise dropped significantly. 

And as you might have guessed, all of this lead to The Freshman 15… or better yet 25. Any body issues I had before were now amplified. I stopped fitting in my jeans, and I even stopped fitting in my sweatpants. I’m not going to lie; I felt like garbage. Gaining all of this weight did not help with my other stresses either. It became tough to focus on school when all that I cared about was how disgusting I had become. All of this self-hatred lasted the entire semester before I saw any sort of change. 

Then second semester of my freshman year, I decided to take a modern dance class. Thinking it would just be something easy and to boost my GPA. Little did I know this class would change my entire collegiate path.  

As soon as I walked into my Modern Dance 185 class, I felt more self-conscious than I ever had in a studio before, but there was still that toxic little voice in my head saying that I could go back to being skinny again if I show up every day. 

After about three weeks, I was excelling in the class, but I saw no change in my body. This caused me to become dishearted for a while. But I kept dancing. I still saw no major changes in my body until nearly spring break, but that didn't matter because I started to fall back in love with my body and dance. I think that having to learn to love myself in my new body taught me that self-love had nothing to do with the way that I looked. I realized that I could still move the way that I used to in this new body, and I still had worth. 

This was the first time that my confidence went up without my weight going down. 

That semester I remembered how vital dance is to my well-being. After many conversations with professors and much encouragement from my peers, I ended up adding a dance minor and eventually a major. 

When I say that the Freshman 15 was the best thing that ever happened to me, it’s because the Freshman 15 taught me that I could still kick major butt at any size and helped to set me up to lose weight healthily.