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Note: Reading this requires some physical activity. 

Get up. Go to a mirror. Look at it.
What do you see?

You see your reflection. You see yourself.

Now really look at yourself. 
What do you see?

I see an average looking girl with an asymmetrical face. She has dark skin, dark lips and dark eyelids. There’s nothing special about her. What do you see?

Forget appearance for a second, look at that reflection again. What’s beneath the surface? Is there happiness? Sadness? Stress? 

I see fake optimism. Fake confidence. Fake success. I see someone so desperate for approval from others. Someone so afraid of criticism yet not a single person would guess that. I see a fake person. What do you see?

Now get your phone, text your best friends and ask them, “what do you see when you look at me?” 

“Beauty. You’re beautiful but also you’re determined and creative.

“You look intimidating. Pondering, it looks like the wheels in your brain are always turning.”

I’m confused. Are they seeing something that I’m not? Why can’t I see myself the way they do? Don’t get me wrong, I love myself. I may look like a burnt chicken nugget but I still love myself. And I do see myself as those things, but not every day. Some days I look at myself in the mirror and think I’m beautiful. Other days I see myself and think I’m the ugliest thing to exist. It really depends on the day. So how do you reach a point where even those bad days are not so bad? 

As cheesy as it may sound, you have to accept your imperfections. You have to accept the fact that not everyone you meet will love you. And that’s okay cause you can’t vibe with everyone, but you can vibe with yourself. You can be your biggest hype man and toughest critic, it’s about finding a balance between the two. We often fail to see how amazing we are because we constantly look for all the negatives and beat ourselves up over them. We dwell on the one thing that we don’t like and forget to see our true selves.

Your appearance, personality and character are not as simple as this or that- they’re multidimensional, just like your love for yourself. So many versions of you exist; you’ve grown so much from the old you. You might have grown to love yourself more than the teenage you. Or you might have grown to hate yourself more. Either way, recognize that you’re capable of changing that narrative because you’re the narrator. You’re the puppeteer and the puppet. 

Tonight, take a piece of paper and write down the things you love and the things you hate about yourself. You’ll start to realize how closely related both are. Instead of trying to change the things you hate about yourself, why don’t you start by asking yourself, “why do I even hate that about myself?” You might realize that the things you hate aren’t actually things you hate. They’re just things you were told not to love. All your self-perceived flaws, imperfections, and parts that you appreciate make you who you are. So loving yourself means loving them all. 

Thamilini Balakumar is a Global Business and Digital Arts student at the University of Waterloo. She has a passion for creative writing and storytelling. In addition to writing, she tells stories through her photography and videography.
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