For many years I believed that loving yourself was a form of arrogance, rather than an essential part of life which is uniquely intertwined with happiness. In fact, I was under the impression that loving yourself meant that you thought you were above everyone else, or that you’re simply worth more than other people.
These days, I have come to realise that learning to love yourself is an essential part of life, and is something that everyone needs to come to terms with at some point. No, I don’t mean that you have to walk around thinking you’re above everyone or think that you’re the best in any way; loving yourself is all about accepting your so-called ‘flaws’ and learning to treat yourself right – whether this be feeding your mind and soul with good foods and relaxation, or learning that no matter what your body shape or size – you are uniquely beautiful.
Now I can’t pretend that I am some guru on this topic who can give you all the hints and tricks to learn how to be happy within yourself, I’m not. Realistically, I’m an anxious mess who overthinks every little detail and has struggled with self-image for waaaay too long, but I know that this isn’t sustainable, and I’m well on my way to learning to accept who I am. This process doesn’t happen overnight, the likelihood is that for many. it will be a long and tiring journey.
For some unbeknown reason, something changed in me recently. I stopped looking at Instagram models and feeling horrible about my skin, or the cellulite on my thighs and began to realise that absolutely no one is perfect. Now this change might have come as an indirect result of the increasing number of women I see embracing their ‘imperfections’ (disclaimer: these terms are used loosely and in reference to what society deems imperfections – I do not class these as imperfections myself), or maybe it’s just a result of me growing up, but I have finally come to terms with the fact that perfection doesn’t exist – it’s simply a concept made up by each individual person and is completely relative to each individual.
You see, it’s easy to pretend that you have the ‘perfect’ life on Instagram by only showing your good angles or editing your photos, but these images aren’t realistic nor representative. I’ve learned to accept that in reality, nearly everybody has something about themselves that they don’t like. Believe me, you could ask someone that you think is absolutely flawless what they disliked about themselves and I guarantee they’d be able to give you a list.
Learning to love yourself isn’t about just you either, it’s about everyone else around you who you love and care for. It allows you to accept love in a way that you never have, and to give love without consequence. To quote the legend that is RuPaul – “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”.
For anyone just setting out on their self-love/acceptance journey, here are my tips and words of advice:
- Do whatever you need to do, in order to be yourself: Figure out what makes you happy, whether this be going for a run every day or treating yourself to some pick-and-mix – you need to find balance. The more you do things you enjoy, the happier you will become. I know it sounds obvious, but too many people stop themselves from doing the things they love for no real reason. For me, I love being outside. If I don’t go outside at least once a day I begin to feel groggy, so once a day I’ll make sure to leave my house and go for a walk, even if I only have time for a 10-minute stroll. It’s worth it.
- Eat well and drink water: How are you going to feel good mentally if you feel awful physically? I don’t mean to say that you should eat all organic and become vegan if that’s not who you are, but remember to keep yourself hydrated and eat tons of good food – this could be your mums Sunday roast, to a fruit salad every once in a while. You need to treat your body right, trust me, it’ll help.
- Take time to relax and breathe: This one’s self-explanatory. Take 5 minutes a day to just chill out. Don’t think about the assignments you have due next week, or what your future may hold. Just be present in that moment. It’s 5 minutes – the length of a TV ad – you could literally do this while watching love island!
- Define your idea of beauty: Don’t let society tell you what it is. Beauty is self-defined.
- Finally, stop comparing yourself to others: Everyone has their own battles taking place. You are more than that. Comparing yourself to others literally does nothing.
You are enough. Take care.