By Megan E. Marshall, co-founder of the F.L.Y. Movement (Fuel. Love. You.)
Today Megan E. Marshall, M.Ed., is the Business Core Administrator in the Smeal College of Business at Penn State University but years back she started off as a track and field runner at Penn State and experienced an eating disorder that led to persistent injuries.
She shares her journey as an eye opener to women out there who aim to a sculpted physique and goal, push their body to a point of no return.
What if I were to tell you that you’re going to face adversity in college. That your experience would be less than perfect. What if I were to tell you that you would come to hate running. That comparison would suck all the joy out of you. That your one true love would become deadly. But what if your story would eventually help others. Would you still go?
“You knew you were good.”
But the challenge of going to a Division I school excited you. You were having people over to watch a movie in December when you declared your intent over the phone. You just couldn’t wait to be among the best. To come from a high school where only a handful of athletes went on to play a sport in college. You also wanted to be unique coming from a family of four girls. You found something that made you stand out. It was something that you felt gave you the recognition you always wanted and that felt reassuring. You were strong and sound in your identity.
Just like John Steinbeck says, ” And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” You did not feel the need to be perfect or to be a certain way. You flew your own flag and it felt safe. College and everything that was portrayed to you on your recruiting trip sounded like the perfect next step. You felt like your choice was meant to be. The people, the location, the program all made sense to you. You overwhelmingly felt that you were in good hands.
Re-Defining Body Image
You did not know what body image was nor did anyone inform you that many things would be different in college. I know when you are excited you get nervous and quiet, but then you wait for your moment to shine and be silly.
You showed up to the first day of pre-season as you always would. You felt confident, excited, and of course nervous underneath it all. You wanted to fit in so badly. You never second-guessed what you wore to run because you were a soccer player first, runner second. You strolled into practice wearing a loose fitted tee-shirt with soccer shorts. Looking around the area where everyone met you noticed all the other girls. You were confused and surprised when you saw other bodies and what people wore. They were different from you. You would have never thought about wearing a sports bra and spandex shorts to run in. Heck, you wore spandex underneath your running shorts when you competed in high school. This atmosphere shocked you. Your confidence remained steady, but your sparkle was dulled.
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