A Lesson in Self-Love

Every Sunday, like clockwork, I get the scaries. Not like the homework kind, though—more like the kind where I start to question every single aspect of my life. Do I have enough friends? Am I annoying? Do people hang out with me because they want to or only because I asked and they felt too bad to say no?


These thoughts have been a constant throughout my life - until college. Surrounded by thousands of my people my age, making friends was easier than ever before. My worldview increased by at least a factor of 10 (and I’m not good at math, so I don’t even know how much that is, but probably a lot). I did so many things and met so many people and life was constantly different, new, and exciting. 


And then summer came, and I went home. And suddenly, nothing was the same as it used to be. Was this really the town I grew up in? Compared to being at school, my home life seemed so small. Between myself and the four high school friends I had left, it was downright unbearable. Every day I woke up and wondered how I had managed to live in my hometown for eighteen years. I counted down the days until I could come back to school. I swore to myself that I would never spend another summer at home. I was convinced that if I was back at Butler, everything would be right in the world again. 


But then I came back to school… and not everything was right in the world again. It didn’t feel the same anymore. The honeymoon period had worn off. I felt as though I was stuck in limbo, and it was the most puzzling feeling in the world. How could I feel unhappy somewhere I had previously considered my happy place?


And then, it hit me. It wasn’t the place that I was in or the people around me that could truly be fulfilling. As cheesy as it sounds, it had to come from inside. I simply couldn’t rely on outside factors to bring me that feeling. 


But… where exactly does inner happiness come from? 


I needed to reflect.


Today, I am thinking about how I weighed about 88 pounds in fourth grade (a perfectly average weight for a 4’9” girl) and I cried to my parents because the Wii Fit said I was “at risk for being obese.” (And honestly, Wii Fit, I still think that was rude.)


Today, I am thinking about being in fifth grade, when I wore my hair in a middle part every day and had approximately two friends who were not male. I’m thinking about how I came home one day feeling sadder than the average fifth grader should and how I told myself that from that point on I needed to “be normal,” that I needed to wear a ponytail and headband like the other girls so that I could have friends.


Today, I am thinking about being in middle school and the birthday party one of my classmates had. He didn’t invite the “weird” kids. I wasn’t invited. 


Today, I am thinking about how when I was a sophomore in high school and I texted in a group chat with six of my closest friends asking them to hang out. I’m thinking about how they didn’t reply, yet later that night I saw them all together (without me) on their Snapchat stories.


Today, I am thinking about how last spring I cried to my mom about having gained the unfortunate freshman 15.


Today, I am thinking about how I have never, not once, not a single day of my life, ever felt complete satisfaction with who I am as a person. And isn’t that crazy? We’re stuck with ourselves our whole life. So why is it so hard to love the person we know best?


From the time I was a little girl, all I ever wanted was to fit in. I wanted to have friends who liked me and liked spending time with me. I wanted people to think good things about me when they heard my name, instead of thinking of me as the weird middle school girl who bought Hello Kitty t-shirts from Hot Topic. 


I think that to an extent, I have always been acutely aware that I didn’t fit society’s mold of what could be considered normal. I don’t mean that in an “OMG, I’m SO quirky and not like the other girls” way, either. I just mean that up to a point in my life, I did whatever I liked even though I knew it wasn’t what my friends liked. Then, I had a realization and desperately wanted to take everyone’s opinion of me and scrub it from their minds with a Mr. Clean eraser. 


Today, I am thinking that the issue with all of this is that my issues with self-love stem from other people’s perceptions of me. But what about what I think of me? 


Well, for starters, I think I’m pretty cool.


I could sit and list all the things I’m doing right - I have good grades, I’m involved, I have friends who love me. But what if I didn’t? Would that make me less worthy of loving myself? I would hope not.


I think that truthfully, self-love starts from a place of acceptance. My hair is always going to be whack when I wake up, my double chin may never fully disappear. But so what? Those things make me who I am. 


Self-love needs to be applied to every piece of yourself. Celebrating the things about yourself that you may be self-conscious about is equally important as loving the parts of yourself that you like. I don’t like the way my body looks, but it’s my body, and if I don’t love it, who will? And when I can finally accept that these things about myself are relatively unchangeable, then I can truly start to love them. 


Self-love is an integral part of happiness. And if self-hate begins to seep into every aspect of your life, it becomes impossible to ignore it. I think I read somewhere (on the Internet, so it must be true) that the average woman is self-conscious of her body every 15 minutes. Every 15 minutes! I know that personally, especially if I’m wearing a ~risky~ outfit, my mind is constantly focused on how I look and if other people are judging me. It’s hard to let those negative thoughts go, but I have to try.


Without self-love, you’ll become trapped living in the minds of everyone around you. So do you, and even though it’s hard, stop thinking about what everyone else thinks of you, too. 


Today, I am going to love myself.


Today, I am thinking about how I chose to stay at home on Friday night instead of going out with my friends. Instead of getting hit with a major wave of FOMO when I saw their Snapchat stories and rethinking my decision, I was perfectly content where I was at. And that’s progress, I think. 


Today, I am thinking about the Canvas notification that told me I got an 80% on my paper - and that’s okay. I know I can write. I’ll get ‘em next time. 


Today, I had a bad day. The concept of loving myself sounds like an incredibly hard goal to achieve, but I have to try. And so do you.