Advanced Essay #1: Mule

Introduction: When drafting this essay, I wanted to portray my sickness using detail that was true to my personal experience. I’m proud of the way that I described how automatic eating tendencies become after you begin dieting. On my next paper, I want to make more of an effort to get good peer revision. I got two people to look over my paper, but I could have gotten a better paper if I reached out to more people.

I rarely visit my grandparents in West Virginia. The grueling eight-hour car drive made it difficult to reach them, but in the summer before sophomore year my family decided to drive out and stay with them for a few days. I was thrilled! I would be staying somewhere quite different than Philadelphia with family that I rarely see. Although, part of me also dreaded this visit. It had been a few months since I began my diet; and I remember shoving down any excitement I had with calculation - how would I avoid too excess calories in West Virginia? Before leaving, I had to promise myself I would not overeat and surely damage the progress I had been making. I had internalized information from the health accounts of social media and created a mental manifesto on which foods I would avoid, but truly, how I would avoid eating altogether.

It was always very quiet in West Virginia. In the gloaming hours, I would lie in bed and try to fall asleep. Distantly, I heard crickets as they spent those halcyon hours in reverie. I would eventually drift off into sleep, mildly uneasy in the fact that I was not falling asleep in my bed; I was surrounded by the sprawling Blue Ridge Mountains, and I was sleeping in a guest bedroom that was twice the size of my own, and it was very quiet. In the morning I would drink coffee with my grandparents; They would offer many sweet and tempting items for breakfast, but I would always cry indigestion and stick with the coffee.

When we returned from West Virginia, the habits that I picked up over the summer became automatic, a sort of body memory that occurred when my health tendencies took over my life. I continued downing black coffee even though it tasted like death. I took up doing sit-ups in my room.

I had almost forgotten that school was imminent by the time August was ending. I went into school on the first day with dread that was mildly pacified by how exhausted I felt, and as friends greeted me with such vibrant energy, I realized how different I must be acting compared to everyone else. I didn’t know whether or not people would comment on my weight loss and was surprised to have had many people walk up to me to make comments.

“You got so skinny! Congratulations!” Is how most people reacted if they chose to verbalize their thoughts about the change.

“Something’s different about you, did you lose weight?” One teacher said, in a manner that surely wasn’t meant to be intrusive.

I reacted to all of the comments with humility; I told most people that I had naturally shed ‘a few pounds’ from biking all around the city. It was a lie, but it felt like the easiest way to explain the change. Even though people were confronting me on my weight loss, none of their observations affected me. I was the only one who could feed into my body image. I had become immune to whatever anyone could have said about my body; I had become the mule.