The courage it takes to share your story might be the very thing someone else needs to open their heart to hope
By Gillian Fortier
I’ve never seen so much caffeine in one home in my life. Coffee, Mountain Dew, Kombucha, and Five Hour Energy – even straight up caffeine pills. There’s only one possible explanation: finals season is upon us.
We’re all struggling here. There’s no lie and no shame in it – finals are hard. Everyone knows it. We sleep less, and when we do, it’s often in strange places. We drink more coffee and wear the same outfit – leggings and a comfy sweatshirt – three days in a row. We cry in the open and disappear into the library for days at a time. When our mothers call to ask how we’re doing, we respond “I’m alive.” And we wear it all as a badge of honor, a competition among students to see who has it the worst, who is going the craziest.
By Edwina Koch
7 minutes left.
With each passing second that approaches midnight, the 8th-floor lobby suddenly fills with more and more students joining in camaraderie, some entering in groups and the really brave ones entering alone.
6 minutes left.
People make awkward small talk. Those who are first timers think briefly about running away, but the spirit of veterans helps fill the room with the calmness required to pull such a stunt.
2 minutes left.
The energy suddenly becomes maniacal. Spontaneous and perhaps impulsive last-minute stragglers run into the lobby to join us. Clothes start to come off, fabric hits the floor and the final countdown begins.
It’s one of my favorite traditions at Carolina and I now make it a point to participate in the Carolina finals-week naked run every semester. The first time I did it, I felt like a SUPER-HERO and now, I try to get as many others to participate with me. Here’s why:
People always tell me that they want to do it with me and that they are 100% on board. But then, the hours before we’re supposed to run, the ‘should haves,’ ‘could haves,’ ‘would haves’ arise.
“Ugh, I can’t I’m so bloated this week.”
“I’ll do it next semester when I’m in better shape.”
“I don’t feel good about the way I look right now.”
Well…here is my New Years Resolution: I want to call BULLS*** on those SHOULD haves COULD haves and WOULD haves. Happiness and body-confidence can be had right NOW.
People think I must be so confident about my own body in order to run in front of the school naked. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
I’m broken. I’m self-conscious about my body. I’ve lived 5 years in and out of eating disorder behaviors. I look in the mirror and as much as I put my best efforts forward to be body positive and feel beautiful every day, I fail. I fail every day.
THAT is why I streak.Call me crazy, but running alongside one hundred other naked people reminds me of my own beauty. In those moments as we count down together and people start shedding their clothes, I realize that I am standing in a room full of naked imperfection and THAT is beautiful.
Seeing others smiling in their own exposed skin makes me smile. The excited energy in the 8th-floor lobby as we count down those moments leaves no room for self-conscious attitude. People of all shapes, all sizes join in the tradition and suddenly, any negative self talk—“I’m not shape for this” or “I’m too bloated for this” or “I’m bigger than I want to be”—all of that disintegrates into fight or flight. As my mind enters this charged, primal state, I realize our bodies are something to celebrate and scream about.
SOOOO, reader. Welcome to 2017.
If you don’t want to run across UNC’s campus with me naked… I GUESS I can understand that but please look in the mirror and just remember how gorgeous your ‘imperfections’ are—all of them, mental and physical. Our funny ‘imperfections’ aren’t imperfections at all. They make us who we are.
My, crazy, nudity-loving, free-spirited self just wanted to remind you that YOU are beautiful. YOU are enough. YOU shine in your own skin and YOU don’t need to change a single thing about how you look. When it comes to “shedding the holiday pounds,” the end goal should never be just weight loss, it should be health— physical and mental health.
That is a note to you all as much as it is a note to myself. Peace, love, and continued joy to all of us! Happy New Year. Bonne Année mes belles.