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During this time of year, it’s pretty natural for us to think about gifts. We’re frantically making finishing touches on the gifts we’ve yet to give, reflecting warmly about the gifts we’ve already given and received and looking forward with either anticipation or dread towards the gifts we’ve got coming in the future.
But when I talk about gifts, I’m not only talking about those wrapped packages we receive on special days, but also about those talents and special blessings we have that we can share with the world.
But so often, because we live in a world obsessed with physical appearance and in a world that is so unkind to people who don’t meet the impossible media standard of beauty, I see people who are not able to enjoy or share their gifts. So many amazingly talented, intelligent, kind, funny and gifted people are simply unaware of these gifts. So often, I talk to someone, especially someone of size about their gifts and they respond in fear and negativity. They say things like, “I’m not really talented. There’s nothing really all that special about me.” Or even if they acknowledge a talent, they don’t feel that their talent is of sufficient magnitude to share with the world. They say things like, “Oh I couldn’t sing in public, I’m not good enough. And people would just laugh at me.”
Let me stop right here and say, I get it. I procrastinated in writing my book and coming out into the public eye for years because I was afraid. I was afraid people would say mean things to me. I was afraid people would laugh at me. I was afraid people would discount me because I am fat. And you know what, once I started to really share my gifts out in the world, all those things happened. People refused to study exercise with me because I wasn’t thin. People said incredibly mean things to me, even on national television. I got hate mail, and I get hate mail. Some of it is incredibly ugly. Nearly all the things I feared, in at least some small part, have come true.
But none of that icky stuff begins to compare with the feeling I get from sharing my gifts with other people. None of that yuck comes close to the feeling I get, when somebody calls or emails or simply comments to say that in some small way, I helped them. None of that hate spewed by others compares to the feeling I get deep in my bones when I know that I am doing at least some of the stuff I was put on this earth to do, and I am breathing deeply and living loudly and to my purpose. None of that even comes close to the feeling I got when I walked out on stage of the Katie Couric show to talk with the world about what it means to love ourselves the way we are right now. The feeling of being what I should be, and the feeling of helping is radically joyful.
When I speak in public, especially when I speak to young people like I recently did at USC, I am careful to always talk about this. When I talk about the costs of the “War on Obesity” and the costs of fat hate in our society, I always talk about the costs to each of us individually and to the world at large of large populations of people not daring to even dream about living fully. I talk about the costs of a significant percentage of people in our world who deny their gifts or hide them under a bushel basket because of the very real fear that they will be laughed at, derided and scorned because they don’t look the way society dictates they should. And I remind people that it is not just the individual cost to each person who does not derive as much joy as they would like from living to their purpose, it is also the cost to everybody else in society who doesn’t get the benefit of those shared gifts that makes this hatred of certain body types so very, very expensive.
It’s not always easy to admit to and share your gifts. I know this. But one thing that seems to make it easier is to try to live in the present. If we dwell on past hurts or we anticipate future pain, we draw into ourselves. We curl up and we don’t give. One of the keys to sharing our gifts seems to be living in the now.
Take a look at our friend from Kung Fu Panda. At one point, Po was ready to give up. Mr. Panda states, “I probably sucked more today than anyone in the history of Kung Fu–in the history of China–in the history of sucking.” He was frustrated and embarassed. He was laughed at and derided by the other creatures in the Dojo. But Master Oogway reminds Po that, “Yesterday was history. Tomorrow is a mystery. But today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.”
So during this holiday season, I would invite you to consider your gifts. I promise you have them. You have talent. You have worth. You have energy and time. You have ideas. You have compassion and joy and laughter to share with the world. And you have the gift of today in which to share those gifts with us. Please share.
Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)
P.S. Want a gift to help you learn how to share YOUR gifts? This month I’m giving away “5 Things That can Help You Love Your Body Right Now! for free to members of my clique. Just opt in RIGHT HERE!