Do you ever look in the mirror and list off the things you want to change? Whether you want to change something physical, or maybe you want to change how you act or want to change your habits. Maybe you think your nose is too big, or you aren’t involved on campus enough, or your clothing isn’t nice enough, or maybe you don’t like how you smile.
But, do you stop to think what you like? Do you like who you are?
I’m a flirtatious feminist who likes to run like a superhero and color in coloring books. My favorite animal is a giraffe, and I dream that somewhere out there are magical flying unicorns that sneeze glitter and fart rainbows. I love those parts of myself because it’s funny and creative. But I also have depression and anxiety, and I’ve been suicidal and I’ve cut myself, and I love those parts of me too. I love my scars because they show me where I’ve been and what I’ve conquered. I love my anxiety because it has helped me be self-aware, and understand and appreciate how I’m feeling. I can color in a coloring book while being fully aware that I could break down in tears, and know it is okay. However, getting to the point where I was comfortable with my ‘weirdness,’ and comfortable with my depression/anxiety, took more than just medication and counseling. It took me.
For the past three years, I’ve taught myself what it’s like to look at myself in the mirror and say, “I love you. You are smart, and you are beautiful.” It’s a hard thing to do, some days are harder than others, and some days it seems impossible. It took me being conscious of everything I was thinking and/or feeling, and it took consistent self-reflections to check in with myself. I had to teach me about me. Teach myself about what makes me happy if I’m sad, teach myself how to not cut myself if I sensed the urge, and teach myself how to be more accepting of who I truly am. But I can’t do that alone, so I go to counseling. My counselor is my number one supporter. She helps me understand that being selfish is okay because sometimes you need to take a pause and do something for you. She reminds me that feelings are normal and healthy, and to be cognizant of those feelings. She tells me to keep a journal, and write down all the positive things that happened during my day — even if it seems like the smallest act, getting out of bed can be the hardest step. She shows me the parts of myself that I don’t think to look at, or I don’t want to look at.
Counseling isn’t the only way to fall in love with yourself. It can just be a part of your daily routine. Waking up in the morning, saying that you can do it and you are worth it. Reminding yourself that you deserve the best, and you deserve to be happy. Falling in love with yourself isn’t a code word for saying be selfish as hell, it’s code for fully accepting who you are what you believe in. I am not perfect, and I don’t love myself all the time, but accepting who I am and learning to accept the various aspects of me, makes life so much more fun. I’m not embarrassed around people if I act childish, and I’m no longer scared when I have thoughts of cutting myself. I am flawed, I make mistakes, I don’t play by the rules — but I am able to stay connected with my body, mind, and spirit. And that journey isn’t easy, it isn’t short, and it isn’t painless. I no longer look in the mirror, analyzing and critiquing the physical or mental parts of me; instead, I look in the mirror to remind myself who I am.
And who am I? I’m my own true love.