I wasn’t sure what to write for this post, so I did a sort of free-association exercise. The result is a little disjointed (my thoughts often are, they tumble and spill over themselves like little gymnasts) but I thought it was quite interesting to see what came up…
There is a strange comfort in crowds. Crowds provide a place to hide. A place where you can be a faceless person among many. Crowds are largely anonymous. Thy have their own kind of privacy – there may be a million eyes to see you, but you’re only one dot on a teeming landscape.
There will always be people who try to stand out from the crowd. They might wear flashing lights in their hair, or fluorescent wigs. They might dress outrageously, or in costume, so that eyes can’t help but be drawn to them like iron filings to a magnet.
Eating disorders can be a little like being part of a crowd. You might want to disappear – to be a nameless, faceless number. In the same way, it might on some level be a way to get noticed – the sharpness of emerging bones sounding a warning to concerned friends or parents.
You can feel alone in a huge crowd of people, just like you can feel alone within the confines of your eating disorder (or depression, or other mental health issue), no matter how many friends you have around you.
My friends joke often that I am a crowd-pleaser, which is true – I want to be all things to all people and have everyone like me. I am trying to be more relaxed about this. More accepting of myself. Crowd-pleasing is exhausting. Constant performance is exhausting.
But crowds can also lift and carry – think of the joyous crowds at a concert, united in song and support; think of crowd surfers on a sea of hands, trusting they won’t fall, riding the wave of spontaneity and celebration.