She was a star girl, a top-of-the-class, supermodel-skinny scholar of her generation. She was going to graduate early with seven honorary degrees, a multi-book deal, and a tenure-track job. She was going to act in the RSC, edit the next Norton, and pedal a lecture series all around the world. She was going to win a Pulitzer, an Olivier, a Booker, and a Nobel. She was going to live in London, in the city of sunsets and Shakespeare, sipping gin and sinning sins. She going to have the most amazing life, and when she finally died, it would be because her heart exploded with joy. Oh, she had such big dreams; oh, she had such big plans!
She’d be halfway through her second year of university by now. Her debut academic article would surely be published. She’d be starring in critically acclaimed productions and gracing symposiums with the greatest of the greats. She’d go to school every morning and dance every night. She’d be living in that ramshackle Southwark flat with those nine semi-strangers, listening to slamming doors, drunken conversations, and someone else’s gangster rap. She’d be dating the dreamy neuroscientist nextdoor and co-writing their revolutionary article on linguistic impotency and sexual reparation within the post-Babellian context of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’. She would be, could be, should be, somewhere, something, someone wonderful.
What happened? What happened to her? She couldn’t believe it; she wouldn’t understand. She would NEVER take time off of school–not in a million years. She would rather die; she was NOT a wastrel. How could she be so stupid? Why did she let things get this bad? Who was she now?
I see sparkles of her in my eyes, the girl I used to be. Maybe she’d be proud of me, of how far I’ve come, of how much I’ve accomplished, of how much I’ve grown up. With ribs and ridges hidden I’ve learned to live, to love, to laugh, to let go. I’ve become beautiful; I’ve become brilliant; and foremostly, I’ve become brave. Anorexia humanised me, and heart disease taught me more than any college ever could. Medical leave has made me a better person, and, indeed, a better scholar.