On a low self-esteem day, my boyfriend was trying to tell me I was beautiful. He was saying sweet things, everything I should’ve wanted to hear, but it all fell flat for me. I knew he was scraping for synonyms. My gut reaction was to wonder what was wrong with him. Why couldn’t he help me? Wasn’t this his boyfriend-ly duty? It took me some reflection to realize the problem was with me.
For a while, his words made me believe I was beautiful. I thought that eventually, if he told me I was beautiful enough times, and he treated me like I was, that he would single-handedly convince me that I was a beautiful girl. And for the first few months – the honeymoon phase – it worked out pretty well. I felt gorgeous the first times he complimented me and for the first “I Love You’s”. But now that we’ve been together a long time, I’m beginning to need more reassurance than he can offer.
Now let me clarify again, there is nothing wrong with him in our relationship. Let me pose an awkward yet suitable analogy. Let’s say I lost five pounds. It’s pretty exciting to lose five pounds! I’d be able to spot it, thinking “oh yes!” it came off my thighs and not my butt. I’d be in love with my new five-pound-lighter-body. But after a while, as I become used to this new body and this new weight, I’d find new flaws. I wouldn’t be excited about the five pound loss anymore. I would be insecure again.
In the same way, I got used to the knowledge that my boyfriend finds me beautiful, and now I am back to being insecure. After the initial surprise of his compliments wore off, I returned to my old habits of finding parts of myself I don’t like. Herein lies the problem: no one can convince me I’m beautiful if I don’t first believe it myself.
You might feel beautiful when you’re with a certain person or wearing that one pair of jeans that your legs look really good in, but sooner or later you’re going to be back in your room, without that person, or, sigh, you’re going to have to take those pants off. Your confidence safety net isn’t always going to be there, which is why you have to be your own.
Now I don’t mean to oversimplify this. I know that nobody reading this is going to say, “Oh? I should believe I’m beautiful. Okay! Done!” It obviously doesn’t work like that or the word “insecurity” would not even be in our vocabulary. But, I do think the first step for me was realizing to stop asking other people or even things to be my reassurance, when what I needed was to force myself to be my own.
I’m still a work-in-progress, but I can share a few tips that are helping me along.
- Be positive when you look in the mirror. Look at what you like. Say nice things about the things you don’t.
- Know makeup is for fun or for expression, but it is not to hide or to cover your face. Your face is beautiful and doesn’t need it, as you might think it does.
- Exercise! Yes, this is a generic one but it has helped me so much. Even if you have to start small – take the stairs to your floor instead of taking the elevator!
- Eat when you’re hungry and be hungry for pizza. Okay, I’ll explain this one. So, overeating is definitely a source of frustration for me and almost everyone I know. We stress eat or drunkenly eat an entire pizza…it happens. Try to limit your eating to when you’re hungry, BUT, that doesn’t mean you can only eat carrot sticks. Eat what you like! And of course get your veggies mixed in, but for me, I would break in a day if I couldn’t have my favorite foods. Have everything! Just in moderation.
- Surround yourself with positive people. People who nitpick at their flaws will only cause you to do the same. You want hanging out with your friends to be a safe place for you mentally/emotionally, and you can speak up if you think it isn’t. It would do your friends some good to be kind to themselves, too.