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They’re looking; They’re staring. 

todayApril 20, 2022 16

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By Lance Vie

“They’re looking at you, they’re staring, they’re talking about you”

I repeated it in my head over and over as I walked through the cafeteria my sophomore year of college. I had constant anxiety about being judged. How did I get here?

Be me, starting my college life in a new town, new place, meeting new people.  I was already fearful of not being accepted, but the problem started arising when I began using Snapchat.  I never used Snapchat in high school, I could care less. Especially coming from a small school, everyone knew each other so what was the point? But who was I going to snap here and how was I going to meet people?

I started using Snapchat more, it was my main way to communicate with the people I was meeting.  My roommates Dennis and Nate, and also my great friends down the hall Carley and Lorna. From there, I started to meet people I was “interested” in.  We’ve all been there, so don’t judge.  My main way of communicating with them was Snapchat.

With Snaps, you always have to send a picture.  I would always try my best to look good in every photo that I sent. Then I realized, no matter how hard I tried, I didn’t look good.  Every angle, every way, I just looked…unappealing.  At first, I didn’t care, but over time it became a bigger problem.  I could barely look at myself without resenting myself.

I knew where the problem lay.  It was with my weight.  At this point, I would’ve been a pretty big guy.  I was about 6’5”, hovering in the 270-280 lbs range. My entire family was just as big and tall, but this wasn’t a case of muscle mass.  I was just fat, and I knew it too. 

But I did nothing to change it.  I would just not look at myself in the mirror, or just Snapchat people a picture of something else.  I just didn’t want to see myself. Then Covid-19 hit, and that only made my situation worse.

Stuck at home, with nowhere to go, and nothing to do.  I found comfort at home in food.  I was bored constantly, as I just had to leave college to come back home, with no plan of what to do at home, so I just ate and played Call of Duty Warzone all day.  I continued this trend through the rest of the year and into the summer.  Summer of 2020 I got a job working in construction with my mentor.  Being outside for 50 hours a week helped maintain my weight, but the constant flow of fast food hurt any chance I had at losing it.  

Then school started back up, and I was looking worse than I did before I left.  At this time I just started a new relationship.  It would be the final nail in the coffin/my saving grace.  My Fall semester sophomore year can only be described as “the worst”.  I was isolated from friends in my relationship, I was forced to eat fast food all the time because I was never there for the dining hall hours, and I never got a chance to actually improve myself.  Although I truly wanted to.

I knew that my weight was ballooning through the semester.  I would have Applebees, Taco Bell, or Raising Canes every week.  It became a habit that I was seemingly forced into.  I could see myself getting bigger as well.  I was constantly out of breath, my clothes seemed to fit tighter and tighter every day. 

The worst experience I had was in the cafeteria.  I started a “Northeast CC Meme” account on Twitter.  Someone did something similar my freshman year and I was hoping to replicate it again this year. I had posted some things but not much.  One day I was sitting in the cafeteria when I tweeted a joke about the baseball team.  I got a reply from one of the players that just said “Peter Griffin”.  I looked up to see all of them were looking at me and my brother, who was in the same weight situation I was in.  I couldn’t handle the pressure and immediately deactivated the account and walked out.  The embarrassment I felt was too immense, and I could never walk through the cafeteria again without fear of being judged in the same way I was. 

A selfie of a man wearing a baseball hat and jacket
January, 2022

After that situation, five months of eating fast food weekly, and not being able to be me. I was freed. I was broken up with over Snapchat of all things.  I was okay with it, it was everything I wanted.  Except now it was January 2021, and I was 325lbs. I took it easy, and although I knew the relationship was bad for me I needed time to figure it out myself.  

 

I finally figured it out in early March. I was sitting in my Christian Fellowship group that I went to every Monday.  I finally decided that I needed to change.  I left the meeting at 8 and drove straight to the YMCA and purchased a membership. I remember a classmate of mine Ervin was working at the time, and he was proud of me for finally go out and start working on myself. 

From there it was something that I stuck with. Working out and lifting is something that even today I find fun and enjoy going to every time.  Over the past year, I have taken many photos and videos. I wanted to make sure that I tracked my progress over the last year and I am glad that did.

Full body photo of a man in a gym
March, 2022

 

The one lesson that I learned from this is: The hardest part is starting. 

Written by: Kaci Richter

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