Over the past couple of months, I’ve become particularly invested in my own mental and physical well-being. As someone who has always prioritized other people over myself, the transition from living for others to living for me has not particularly been an easy one. But, I am grateful for the process and the healing that has gone along with it. As women, we may often find ourselves stuck between wanting to prioritize ourselves and worrying about coming off as stuck-up or undesirable, but I’ve found that the most rewarding feeling is the realization that loving yourself isn’t a selfish act at all. In fact, it is beautiful and empowering to love yourself first and foremost.
Here are 5 ways that I have learned to love myself as someone who has never quite experienced this level of self-care and self-worth before:
I’ve learned, first and foremost, to forgive myself for my mistakes and for not loving myself before this point. I’ve come to understand that there is strength in forgiveness and that we are often harder on ourselves than other people. In this regard, saying “It’s okay” to yourself is key in moving forward and growing. Letting go and learning from our mistakes is essential.
2. I complete myself
I’m not ashamed to admit that for a while, I was one of those people who found that I searched for a feeling of completion and wholeness in other people (i.e. friends, romantic partners, etc.). But lately, I’ve found that I am enough for me and that nobody is my “other half” because I am already whole. That’s not to say that I don’t value friendships or romance (I’m still a hopeless romantic if I’m being honest), but I don’t feel incomplete without others.
3. It’s OK to do what is best for me
Something that has been historically hard for me is saying “no” to people. My parents always said I’m a “people pleaser”. But, this semester I changed my major from elementary education (a career I only chose to earn the approval of my mother who [surprise] never wanted me to center my life around her acceptance because she already accepts me) to English writing, my true passion. As I discover what I like and what I want for myself, I’ve faced some disapproval and questioning from those closest to me. But, I’ve learned that it’s okay to do what I feel is best for me, whether or not that is at the expense of what makes others comfortable. As my mom says, I can’t live for her or anyone else.
4. I have to take responsibility for myself, my choices, and my feelings
In the past, I’ve blamed so many of my poor choices and mistakes on everything from my anxiety and my period to the weather. But the truth is, I have to accept that I am responsible for me. And this doesn’t even just apply to the bad feelings and the bad decisions. I have to pat myself on the back for the healthy choices I make and for the strides I make in my self-care because only I am responsible for how far I’ve come.
5. I deserve good things
I spent a lot of my adolescence feeling undeserving of happiness, but lately, I’ve learned to stop feeling guilty for being happy or for enjoying the experience of being alive. I deserve love, to be loved, to feel good, to live every day fully, to feel deeply and passionately, to grow and be healthy and safe. These virtues I have been given, I have learned to accept and embrace completely.