Loving yourself means loving your flaws

I’m old. Well, I’m not actually, but in college years I am. Looking at the end of the tunnel that is my senior year, I can wave at the end, and it can see me – and wave back. 

In all my 22 years – I know, that’s quite a lot – it has become apparent to me that self-love is the key to happiness. You can’t rely on the love of others. Academic, professional and personal accomplishments can only get you so far, though I do admit, it does still feel great to get a compliment or receive a reward, but you end up becoming addicted to those things, and like an addict, when you don’t have them, you crash.

It’s a strange paradox, because, in my experience, some of the most successful people have also been the most miserable. And to some extent, they have to be. Personally, I use the fact that I want to get better, that I’m not yet satisfied with where I am in life, as a driving factor to push myself to new limits, to new extremes – and yet no matter what I accomplish, I’m not happy. 

Happiness comes from another place. A place of being satisfied with yourself, which has become harder and harder to do as everyone is a critic and the loud internet mob pushes people further to extremes to the point where i.e. a minor flaw in a movie or video constitutes a major scandal, let alone minor flaws in individuals. 

With how extreme online discourse has become, and how we’re programmed to be dependent off of instant likes and gratification from others, it is harder than ever to love yourself, and through that, to be happy. But it is possible. Is it easier when you unsubscribe from the Instagram/Facebook/Snapchat model of instant gratification, and a million (I often imagine) screaming voices. I imagine it so, but that is not to say that that technology doesn’t have its uses, though I do think it’s very easy to fall into an unhealthy relationship with it. 

Especially in your adult life, you reach a point where you are who you are, and that core notion will not change. You can work on issues you have, but I think for many, the core identity of who they are is set in stone, and it’s something they have to live with, flaws and all. And that can be hard, especially with how connected we are, because no matter who you are, throughout your life you will have your flaws pointed out and mocked, and all you can do is take it, ignore it, or try to address them, and move on. 

I think step one to loving yourself is being able to look yourself in the mirror and truthfully say “I’m not perfect. I have flaws and I screw up sometimes. But that’s ok. That’s human.” And not let it get to you, because for many, it does. They might suppress it, but that doesn’t change the fact that it gets to them, which can be a good thing, especially if it pushes them to work on themselves, but, like I said before, some things you just can’t change. And that’s okay, even if it’s negative. Your flaws don’t have to define you. 

Work on what you can. Accommodate for and don’t worry about what you can’t. Embrace every part of yourself, and that includes the bad. Most people are a mixed bag of flaws and strengths. You are no different.