Changed by CHAARG: Courage is Choosing Happiness, Merve Addemir

I have always been the person to have a smile on my face + ask the people around me how their day is. I can confidently say I’m known for my positivity + happiness. People forget that that does not mean I haven’t had challenges of my own. My life isn’t all yellow + ukuleles.

In the fall of 2018, I summoned up the courage to speak for a court case I feel very strongly about. This court case was centered around an unfortunate experience I had with sexual assault when I was eleven years old. Terrified with the thought of coming forward, I decided I had been affected enough. The truth needed to come out, + I would be the one to expose it after eight years. My unfortunate case led me to become very self aware of my weight as young age. Calorie counting seemed like my never ending game + burning calories where little victories. I lost a lot of muscle + was miserable as school got harder + my brain//body no longer worked together, but against each other.

I thought that by speaking up for this case I was being brave + therefore, I had done my part.  I thought a huge burden would be lifted from my shoulders + I would be proud of who I am and the people I was speaking up for. Instead, I felt as though I had become weak + powerless, as though I was failing everything. Staying kind + supportive to those around me, I didn’t want others to recognize my struggles. I was always there to tell those around me to smile + that things will carry on. But to me, my life felt stunted. All the courage I had in me felt swept away.

In the first week of my spring semester, I had two friends pass away, + having never dealt with loss close to me, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to leave my room, + I didn’t want to go to classes anymore. Class was too difficult, it felt like I couldn’t do it. Eating became especially more difficult because I would simply forget. Things felt overwhelming, how was I supposed to do all of this and stay positive? However, I thought to myself, there are many people before you that have done the same things as you, why are you any different than them?

At that moment I realized that if I wanted to have happiness in me + not just give it to the people around me, I had to choose happiness for myself. I had to have the courage to actively do something to make things better. I had to choose happiness.

I decided to join my university’s CHAARG chapter, to actively work on making a change. This may sound silly, but I never had thought about how fitness + wellness go together. CHAARG really spoke to me about strength and empowerment. At first, CHAARG was a tool to keep me on schedule/a routine. Feeling weak + physically being at such a weak point, CHAARG also helped me engage in more strength exercises than weight loss exercises. I have had plenty of ups + downs in the gym, but I decided, I will face these challenges in the acknowledgment that it is for my happiness + strongest self. The weakness I had once felt was now strength that radiated into my everyday self.

I began meal prepping dinners so that I had something to look forward to when I went home at the end of the day. I could base the meals around things I wanted to eat + I could cook for my roommates + encourage myself to eat with them. I felt like I was giving my body the things it needed to be the best self it could be.

The strength I felt growing in my muscles began to radiate through me. My happiness could not only be seen from across a room, but it can be felt from across a room as well, + that is what I am most proud of. I had grown into the strong girl I wanted to be. The strong girl people saw me as. The amazing CHAARG community that has constantly encouraged + supported me has helped me develop a habit of walking with my head held high + my shoulders back, always a smile on my face. Happy to be happy.

You deserve happiness within you as much as the people you give it to around you. Courage means you look at something + decide, things will get better — because I will make it so. You have every strength within you to be happy, so have the courage to be happy for you.

— Merve Addemir, @merve_inchaarg

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