Written by: Natalie Dormady, contributing writer. Follow more of her story on her Instagram, @littlearthlings.
The other day, I went for a walk. I enjoy taking walks in the middle of the afternoon when the sun is at its highest and its warmest. Each time I set out on a walk I find myself feeling grateful to live near a path that leads to both a field and a forest. As the field came into view, my eyes were met with a bright yellow, almost as if the grass had been spray painted. I walked closer to the field only to recognize that the yellow was coming from dandelions. Hundreds and thousands of them all huddled together like they were trying to imitate the sun. I remember feeling happy – like this odd sense of uncontrollable happiness – all from these dandelions. In the midst of this joy, a couple walked past me, and I overheard the woman say, ‘thank goodness I don’t have to pull out all those weeds.’
My perspective has changed throughout my recovery journey, particularly in the moments of discomfort and difficulty. When I was struggling with the eating disorder, my perspective on situations became very black and white. It was very much a one-way road with no other possible routes. If I were to be standing in front of that field filled with dandelions at the height of the disorder, I would have sounded like the woman who I passed. I would have only seen weeds and that would be that. I don’t even think I, my true self, had a perspective of my own while I was struggling. The eating disorder’s point of view had instead climbed into the driver’s seat.
I’ve been learning a lot about perspective from drawing as well. For example, the other day I was trying to draw waves. I became fixated on getting them to look like they were all going in the same direction. The lines needed to be perfectly aligned. I quickly became frustrated with the tiniest of details. I had been working on these waves for so long that I forgot about the rest of the drawing.
There was a moment when I got up to let my dog outside. When I returned, I took a moment to look at the drawing from standing up. Seeing the picture from farther away, rather than scrutinizing it from inches in front of my face, I realized that the waves would be more effective going in all different directions. I wouldn’t have seen this if I hadn’t taken a literal step back and looked at it from a different angle.
I often zoom in so close that I lose sight of the overall picture. It’s sort of like an iceberg. Zooming in and focusing on one tiny detail only exposes you to the tip of the iceberg and you miss the immensity that is its existence. But if you take the time to zoom out and see the whole picture (or in this case, the whole iceberg), you discover something you never even knew existed – you develop a new perspective. I find myself remembering this when I’m faced with an obstacle. There is always another way to look at the situation. I just have to take a step back, breathe, and remember that this is an opportunity to learn and grow.
With time, my point of view, Natalie’s point of view, is finding her way back into the driver’s seat. I’ve found that I am learning to appreciate the uncomfortable days and the tough situations (well, more than I used to) because I now see them as an opportunity to learn or grow. Granted, it may not always seem like that at the moment. Sometimes all I can see in the moment is the ugly and that’s okay. But it’s slowly getting easier to take a step back and collect my thoughts, only to I find that I am capable of seeing things in a new light. I may not be able to see them right away, but they’re there once I give the clouds time to pass.
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
Changing the way we think is definitely a practice that gets stronger with time and patience, and that’s okay. It’s okay to struggle to see a situation any different but remember that there is a chance to. I hope that when you see dandelions the next time, instead of weeds you’ll see them as little flowers or small suns. I hope they can bring you joy.