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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PSU chapter.

I can’t speak for everyone, but personally, nothing used to make my blood boil like mainstream self-love practices.

Standing in front of a mirror and telling myself that I am beautiful and worthy or writing down five things I like about myself didn’t make me feel empowered. Instead, for lack of a better word, it made me feel like a fool! I just felt stupid— I didn’t believe, or maybe refused to believe, the things that I was saying.

I was embarrassed by my emotions, embarrassed by how I felt the need to turn to practices like this, and embarrassed by just how desperately I secretly wished they would work.

I journal quite often, and a year or so ago I made a realization about the way I spoke to myself in my writing. I could not write down a negative emotion or vulnerable thought without making a joke about it directly after (or handwriting “lol” or “lmao” as if I was sending a text, which I think is silly!).

I was writing in a journal that nobody was ever going to read except me and I still couldn’t take myself seriously or shake the feelings of embarrassment that were perpetually hindering me.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for cracking a little joke about your anguish. However, when it gets to a point where that is the only way you handle your emotions, then maybe it is time to switch things up.

I started reducing the deflective humor I used while writing, attempting to give myself permission to feel my emotions in full no matter how “dumb,” “irrational” or “embarrassing” I thought they were. In my opinion, self-trust is an important part of self-love, and trusting your emotions instead of deflecting or intellectualizing them is an important step in the right direction.

There’s a Florence Welch quote where she talks about her song “Hunger,” saying that it was “written in an effort to understand the ways [she] looked for love in things that were not love.” We all have things we use to cope, places in which we seek love and approval that are only soothing short-term.

A pretty common one is external validation, and speaking from experience it can hit like a drug sometimes. I used to feel as though you could only be pretty, smart, talented etc. if somebody else, some external source, confirmed that you are. That loving yourself was something you needed permission to do. Or that you can equate self-love with being desired by others.

I hope it goes without saying that that is nonsense. It is nonsensical because you are the great love you have been searching for. You are the objective, especially as a college student when there’s so much left for you to figure out and discover.

I am still not the type of person who finds a lot of comfort in reciting affirmations to myself (we all have things that work for us individually), but I do realize now that one of my biggest roadblocks in trying it was the fact that I wasn’t actually putting in much effort. Simply telling yourself that you’re the prettiest girl in the world won’t magically heal you unless you are genuinely trying to invest in both the practice and yourself.

In my eyes, self-love is an agreement or commitment to yourself, not some definitive achievement. You are not going to feel completely and utterly enamored with yourself 100% of the time, which is more than okay and incredibly normal. Sometimes it feels like the sky is falling and you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, but every feeling, good or bad, is temporary.

You will get back up just like you have time and time again.

We are all ever-changing and it is only natural that our perceptions of ourselves fluctuate. But even in our low moments we can still stick by ourselves and extend self-compassion. Committing to yourself is an act of courage in a world designed to keep you insecure.

You are the greatest gift you can give to yourself.

Lucy Martin intends to graduate from Penn State University in 2025 with a BFA in Acting and a minor in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.