The journey to self-love and respect looks different for everyone; it comes more easily for some than others. Personally, loving myself took time. I’d say it took me from my sophomore year of high school to the end of senior year to truly embrace myself, and recognize that I do not need anyone else to validate anything about me to be happy. Two years to build the self-confidence I needed to feel good in my own skin. But what took two years to build took mere months to destroy.
About a year ago, I found myself in a rushed relationship, founded on lust more than anything. It was good at first: I felt seen, he made me feel beautiful, and even saw beauty in things I’d never really appreciated about myself before. I felt like this could be The Relationship I’d always dreamt about. But things weren’t as great as they appeared. It turned out that I didn’t know him as well as I’d thought. There were red flags I’d chosen to ignore, and those red flags came back to bite me in the end. To put it simply, he had not been 100% honest with me. It became clear that he was never serious about the relationship, and I was not the only person he was involved with – though he’d told me otherwise.
I’d never felt more unhappy with myself. Negative self-talk that I’d grown out of snuck back into my life, and I shamed myself for not being smarter. I asked myself how I could be so stupid, wondered why I wasn’t good enough for him, et cetera, et cetera. I spent the whole summer and greater part of fall semester beating myself up for letting myself get hurt.
It’s taken me until now to make the decision to take back control of my own feelings. I’ve let this 19-year-old boy influence how I feel about myself for far too long. He may not have respected me enough to be honest with me, but I need to respect myself enough to allow myself to move past it. I got hurt, my confidence was shaken, I felt like I wasn’t worthy of real love or anything more than what he gave me. But that simply is not true. I’m beginning to love myself again; I’m doing my daily affirmations, because the only person whose validation is ever relevant in life is you. Life’s far too short to spend very long worrying about why anyone didn’t treat you right, whether that’s a significant other, an ex-friend, or even a family member. Worry about treating yourself right; I know that’s my goal for this year. I’m going to get to a place where one person’s actions do not have the power to undo all of the work I’ve put into myself, and I hope anyone else going through a similar chapter in their life can do the same .