We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofSavannah Schindler

“PB&Js

Just as simple as they sound.

Peanut butter.

Jelly. 

Bread.

Easy to remember. 

But what I don’t remember is when they turned from,

Playing in the park,

At a picnic, 

Swimming on sunny, summer days,

To 367,

300, 60, 7,

Three hundred, sixty-seven calories,

Went from running in a field,

To running down the street until your legs give out,

Eating salad, and skipping meals,

When did eating go from something so simple,

To something that consumes your whole life?”

—Savannah 

Covid-19. The virus consumed our whole life. It kept us inside, with nothing to do, and no one to see. No school. No friends. No sports. Nothing. I learned many things during our first lockdown, but one story overrides them all: my eating habits. I never really thought about eating too much. I mean, who would? After all, we are just kids. But what I did think about was not liking myself, not liking what I see in the mirror. I never really did anything because I was still in control of my life and my loved ones. I was in control of myself.

That's something I can’t remember when I lost control over myself. Not being able to stop running, not being able to stop counting. Control. We all need it. We all want it. It makes us feel safe, so losing it can be one of the scariest things. As I said, I don’t remember when it started, but a few weeks in, I started working out more, not to be stronger or faster, but to be skinnier. To meet the standards that are put on us at such a young age. After a few weeks, I saw nothing. I wasn’t skinnier, I didn’t look any different than when I started. I thought eating better would get me results, but nothing seemed to work. I still hated how I looked. I hated how tired and sore I always felt. That’s when I lost control. I started eating less, working out more, comparing myself, and picking apart every little thing about me. I hated how my arms and legs were long; my shoulders were broad, my stomach wasn’t flat, my eyes were too big, my nose looked weird when I smiled, how my eyebrows were uneven. Every little thing. I felt like a fragile piece of glass. At any second, any sound, any sentence, I would break. I would go to bed hungry, but if I ate more I would fall asleep crying, feeling like a failure. Most importantly, with the world going crazy around me, cases rising, having no control, at least I could control this, or so I thought. 

I thought I had control over how much food I put into my body and how many calories I would burn. About four months in, I went to the doctor, and she told me the one thing I didn’t want to hear. I needed to eat more. After all the hard days of restricting, I had to give it all up. I knew this was going to be hard, but I needed to make it easier on my parents with everything going on. So with the help of loved ones, I started better eating habits and a better mentality. I started to not pick apart my body. Instead, I started caring for it. I know that I will always struggle with food. I still can’t help myself, counting calories in my head, and I still have a hard time eating by myself, but no matter what, I have to keep going.

© Savannah Schindler. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.