This is Madi

I was unhappy and hungry, yet the unsolicited praise I received about my body and my accomplishments led me to feel more satisfied than ever before.
Olivia Sari-Goerlach Photography

Olivia Sari-Goerlach Photography

This is Madi

Since entering university, my extra-curricular involvement, academic successes (and failures), friendships, and mood have ebbed and flowed; however, I went about the same routine as I always had, making no concessions to meet my changing mental or physical needs. Failing to do so caused me to spiral into a cyclical, negative head-space. This negativity began to manifest not just mentally, but physically.  

I filled myself up with leadership opportunities...applying for positions, starting and working as president of my own organization, and taking on more responsibilities at work. As I filled myself up and padded my resume, I began to feel more and more empty - literally. In my second year of university – at the peak of my involvement - I was eating next to nothing, and harming my body. I was hungry all the time, unhappy all the time, dizzy all the time – yet I was getting compliments all the time. This lasted for about 6 months. I kept busy, avoided meals with friends, and watched my face hollow. I was unhappy and hungry, yet the unsolicited praise I received about my body and my accomplishments led me to feel more satisfied than ever before.

At some point, I received a message from a friend saying, "thinking of you" along with a quote that just really hit home…it highlighted that somehow, women replaced the idea that they "can do anything" with they "should or need to do everything". This leads them to be over-tired, over-worked, and my personal favourite: over-caffeinated. The societal pressures on women to do everything - including looking conventionally "beautiful" - are overwhelming, and ever constant.  To this day, this message resonates with me - I often share it with women in my life who are dedicated to friends, colleagues, organizations, and their families - but who often fail to fulfill commitments to themselves.

Today, I am heading into my fourth year at university. I weigh more than ever - something I was initially disappointment to find out, after not weighing myself for six months. Oddly enough, despite being my heaviest, I have never been more content. I have taken time to limit my commitments, take care of myself mentally and physically, and focus on meaningful relationships. This is a lesson I am grateful to have learned over many years and many nights spent crying alone or to my oh-so-supportive boyfriend; however, I would not wish the feelings of unhappiness or unfulfillment upon anyone.

There’s no way to eliminate the intense pressures imposed upon modern women, but through mentoring girls, there’s potential to mitigate negative impacts. My story may not resonate with every woman, but if I can pass along any advice it would be this: make time, and take that time to indulge in self-reflection and mindfulness to avoid leaving yourself and your health behind. You can do anything, but you can’t and don’t need to do everything –you are awesome, and you are enough.

-Madi Wood

Taylor Hui