Topic Tuesday: Recovery
“It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” (By: Stephanie Owens)
It’s okay to not be okay…Really embracing the truth behind this phrase has been quite the journey for me. In our social media-driven society, we often feel the pressure of living up to glamorized ideals of what life “should” be – what we should look like physically, what we should be accomplishing in our careers, and what we should have as “squad goals.” Somewhere along the way, we have been programmed to compare our lives to other people’s highlight reels. This showcase of others’ greatest moments is not real life. While each day may present a number of great experiences, we are, more often than not, reminded that life is far from perfect. Disappointments, struggles, and pain are real.
The ten-year-old version of myself hopefully anticipated the future and the seemingly endless opportunities to achieve my dreams of becoming a singer and performer. However, battling an eating disorder from the age of eleven to fourteen turned my world upside down. I became obsessed with perfection and being perceived as “beautiful” and “having it all together.” I sought to “control” every area of my life, which quickly escalated into monitoring everything that I ate and over-exercising to the point of exhaustion.
Over the next three years, anxiety ruled my life, and I lost the carefree girl who looked at the future with excitement. My parents witnessed me struggling and tried everything they knew to help, but, for a long time, I did not want to admit that I had a problem. As long as everyone on the outside saw me as what was “ideal,” I thought I could tough it out and somehow deal with my emotional and mental turmoil. But I was not okay. I was far from okay; I was miserable. I had honestly begun to wonder why I was ever born.
Naturally, I am inclined to be a stubborn person, and it took me hitting rock bottom before I admitted that I was not okay and needed help. My faith in the Lord began at a young age, but, up until that time, I don’t think I really understood how my personal walk with Him impacted my identity. I remember praying and telling God that I was not okay and that, if I was going to get better, He was going to have to heal me. Recovery was definitely not a quick or easy process, but I began to learn that I had to put my worth in how He defines me instead of in how I look or perform. Admitting that I was not okay allowed me to finally get the necessary help and support from my parents and counselors.
In the years following my recovery, I truly learned to be thankful that I battled an eating disorder and struggled with anxiety. My trials played a significant role in shaping me into the person I am today, and I realize that I was given my story for a reason. As a country music artist, I have a unique platform to speak hope and encouragement into people’s lives.
I released my debut EP and music video this past spring, and one of my songs in particular relates to my former body image struggles. “Little Girl in the Mirror” will always hold a special place in my heart because, through it, I am able to tell the world that there was a time that I was not okay. Very recently, I was given the opportunity to sing that song and share my story on The Huckabee Show. As a young girl, I never would have imagined that my national television debut would center around me talking about my weakest moments in life, but I have become passionate about exposing pop culture’s insinuation that life can or should be “perfect.”
As you read this, I would love to encourage you to really let yourself hear and feel that it’s okay to not be okay. I do not believe that anyone should ever be embarrassed or ashamed to share their hardships because, in reality, we all fight various battles and go through times of emotional, mental, and physical turmoil. Struggles are not a sign of weakness – they just mean that we are human and need a supportive community to encourage and walk with us in our recovery journeys. Admitting and accepting that it’s okay to not be okay also opens up opportunities to empathize with others in pain. Whatever trials you have experienced or are experiencing right now can impact others in a powerful way because there will only ever be one you on this earth with your circle of influence. Will you join me in changing the stigma about struggles and in helping our fellow brothers and sisters understand that it’s okay to not be okay?
About the Author
Stephanie Owens is a country music singer-songwriter living in Nashville, TN. Passionately devoted to using music as a platform to share her story and inspire others, her debut EP is a collection of songs that creatively captures both the raw vulnerability and bold intentionality of her personality and music. She is committed to promoting a positive body image amid today’s pop culture. You can find Stephanie on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Links to her music and videos can be found on her website.