I was excited when Paul Taylor asked me to contribute to The Wapsi Girl Project, but whenever I sat down to try to write, I kept getting stuck. Was I really a Wapsi Girl? And what is it that made me one?
I knew I had a lot in common with Monica – that’s what first drew me to reading the comic. I’m short, thin, busty, nerdy, awkward, and I struggle with my own personal demons. I was 16 when I decided with fair certainty that I would someday (as in, as soon as was possible) get a breast reduction. My busty-ness made me feel fat, unable to be athletic, weird, and in pain. I was hit on by older men, making me think that all men just saw me as a sex object. I hated bra shopping with so much passion that I opted to wear the same two sports bras for three years. I was 18 when I started struggling with anxiety, worsening depression, and panic attacks, which made it impossible to keep up with my own perfectionist standards at school.
My turning point came when I was 19. At the advice from the livejournal community at Thirty_twoD, I tried on the first bra in my real size. It wasn’t a 36DD, but a 30G. And it was amazing… I had no back pain! I could stand up straight! My damaged confidence soared. Breast reduction surgery was suddenly off the table. That same year, I gained a real passion for bras, I got married, I took Ativan for the last time, and I started blogging.
But still, as I sat down to write this, I kept thinking – I’m just not brave or confident like the characters in Wapsi Square.
Then, today, I allowed myself to think back to a little over year ago, when at age 21 I was diagnosed with a severe infectious disease. The strong medication used for treatment for the disease took its toll just as much as the disease itself, and recovery was slow and painful. I dealt with doctors who, used to dealing with dying AIDS patients and the elderly, did not take me or my illness seriously (even as I rapidly lost 20 lbs from my already fairly small frame). I had to be an advocate for my health when just getting up from the couch exhausted me completely. The medication I was on, coupled with my past anxiety issues and the nature of the disease itself, made me paranoid, anxious, and depressed. And even after a round of successful treatment, recovery was not at all instant. Even now, at around a year of recovery time, I’m still not quite back to “normal.”
So I asked myself today, how can I look back at all I’ve gone through and not realize certain things?
I realize this: I’m a fighter. I have faith. I can look back and learn from my past. I realize the importance of friends who truly care. I’m learning to accept growth. I’m learning to trust God. I can embrace the things – both the difficulties and the good times – that have made me who I am today. I don’t give up.
This is what makes me a Wapsi Girl.