October 7th is National Inner Beauty Day—a day everyone is encouraged to bring their inner selves to the surface in order to celebrate our differences. In our day and age, it can be incredibly difficult to want to stand out or show our imperfections while everywhere on social media we are told that if we do not look, act, or live a certain way, then we are wrong. This mentality is just plain wrong, and I am here to give you a few words of advice for what I did to build my own self-esteem so that I could appreciate my inner beauty.
A bit of background on me: I knew that I was different from a very young age. I found out before I was even able to walk that I have a rare, incurable eye-condition that appears as lazy eye. This was a sore spot for me for many years because I always asked myself, “why don’t I look like the other kids?” Then one day, I realized that this was my strength. A few years ago, I could never have imagined that I would write an article where I admit that I have an eye-condition and, now, it is one of my favorite characteristics. But it was not easy to get here. I had an amazing support system that—not so lightly—pushed me to learn how to love myself. Throughout this journey of self-love, I realized a few things that I would like others to know.
1. You are not going to be perfect to everyone and that is okay
I used to believe that I needed to be whatever anyone needed me to be in order to be valuable. This is simply untrue. I can confidently say that I am, on rare occasions, a pretty funny gal and I try my best to be kind. If someone does not think that, then they were not meant for my life. My dad once told me: “Maddie, 10% of everyone you meet will hate you for absolutely no reason. 90% will either love you or at least like you. So, stop trying to please the 10% and focus on the 90%.” This advice has stuck with me for years. We cannot please everyone, and we were never created to, so focus on the ones that see your magic for what it is.
2. Time to reflect and take care of yourself is very important
When life gets busy, it’s important to prioritize making yourself happy just as much as you try to make everyone else happy. We get so wrapped up in treating others well that we forget to treat ourselves the same way. Sometimes a night to yourself to think, relax, and do something you love is exactly what your body needs. Single dates are a must when it comes to understanding yourself, and journaling and affirmations are amazing and quick ways that this can be done. Journaling allows you to write your thoughts on paper and have a “conversation” with yourself that no one else can judge. It really allows you to channel your inner-self and learn to acknowledge its qualities.
3. Be nicer to yourself
I know that it is so easy to be your own harshest critic. But you also understand, from an up-close view, just how hard you work to accomplish things. It is not fair to yourself to set unrealistic standards that you wouldn’t for anyone else. I used to have to tell myself “At least you tried, I am so proud of you.” You should be just as proud of yourself as you are of anyone else who is trying. We are too quick to take away our own accomplishments and focus on what we couldn’t do. Stop insulting yourself and instead start complimenting yourself on what makes you, you. Those stretch marks? Beautiful, amazing art that is unique to you and you only. That pimple that just had to appear on the middle of your forehead? A normal and completely perfect occurrence (do a facemask later to treat yourself and it’ll be fine).
4. There will be bad days
There will be times where you will stare at the mirror and hate every single thing that you see, and this is also okay. Loving yourself and who you are within is not a linear process. Some days it will feel like you are taking one step forward and two steps back. But the key to these days is to stay strong and realize how far you have come. Even though many days I look at myself and am happy with who I am, sometimes I am reminded of high school Maddie who was incredibly self-conscious of who I was and my eyes. I do not look at that Maddie as a weakness or something that needs to be shut down. That Maddie, just like the confident one, deserves to be loved with the same ferocity and to be supported through those hard times.
Too many of us have spent too many years hating the fact that we did not love ourselves (which is very ironic), but that is because we thought that loving ourselves is something that should be natural and/or easy. To be fair, some days it will be when your hair and makeup are done and you’re wearing your favorite outfit that makes your butt look super good. However, there are going to be other days where your hair won’t cooperate or needs to be washed and nothing you like is clean, so you must throw on an old sweatshirt and jeans that definitely do not make your butt look great. Those are the days that you need to love yourself and your inner beauty even more. Make sure that you are also part of that 90% rather than the 10%.