My Relationship with Self Love in College

At the start of my first year at Skidmore, I had a lot of questions about the person I would become. In high school, I was lucky to have a stable group of friends, but my opinion of myself was always closely tethered to what others thought of me. My definition of a confident person was someone who had people in his or her life life that whole-heartedly accepted them. As I thought about the challenges I would face in my first semester at Skidmore, I wondered how my self confidence would stand in the face of new relationships, new connections, and a new environment. Now, with my first semester completed, I have realized that who you surround yourself with is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to learning to love yourself.

In the past, validation from others was the energy that fueled my self image and self worth. I am fortunate to be able to say that, just like in high school, I have found my place in a group of amazing people. However, the impact that my friends at Skidmore have had on me touches a much deeper place in molding me into the adult I want to be. While it is one thing to have people in your life that love you, it is another, much deeper, thing to have people in your life that teach you and encourage you to love yourself. In the past, I was fundamentally validated by a friend complementing my hair or outfit. These kind words would lift my spirits for a day or so, but never managed to permanently remedy my insecurities. This structure of ego boost has since been replaced by a system centered around self validation.

There was a defining moment in my first month of college that I will always remember. I was in the bathroom with one of my newfound female friends and we were getting ready to go out for the night. We were fixing our hair and putting on make-up in the mirror when my friend said, “I look great tonight!”. I was immediately taken with her self-assured and confident words. This brand of self-affirmation was foreign to me. I had no idea what to say in response. She then turned to me and said: “Now you say it.” Confused, I said, “You look great tonight?” She smiled at me and said, “No! Say it about yourself!”

Ever since that conversation, my relationship with self-confidence has entirely changed. Women are frequently taught to appreciate other women rather than themselves in order to appear humble and polite. Outward vocal confidence in one’s external and internal beauty is often perceived as threatening. While many people are in the habit of loving those that they care about, very few have made a habit of loving themselves. This realization clicked everything into place. I have been taught, though the well-intentioned behavior of so many people that I have known, that confidence and admiration must be awarded to me by someone else. To speak out in the name of loving myself, for the majority of my life, has felt awkward and uncomfortable.

I have since realized, with the help of the amazing people I have met here at Skidmore, that having self confidence and self worth are attainable without the assistance of anyone else. I believe that one of the most valuable and lasting skills that any young adult can learn is how to take control of his or her self-image. In the long-winding road that lies ahead, I have no doubt that I will meet people who do not approve of the way that I act, the way that I look, or the things that I believe in. I have no control over that. What I can control is the way that I view myself. For this reason, I have decided that I am determined to make loving myself a habit, even if it’s a little uncomfortable at first.