“Love yourself” is a phrase I have said to people since I was little — every time they felt sad, ugly, less than, and every time they felt happy, pretty, smart. This is something I have always tried to remind friends and strangers, because the act of loving yourself is something so foreign to us. We choose to love others despite their flaws. We choose to envy others for things we feel we don’t have. We choose to view our image as a competition when we are all beautiful people who deserve to be loved … by ourselves.
Growing up, the concept of loving myself was never an issue. I was almost too conceited. I always wanted my picture taken because I thought I was a model. Whenever people complimented me, I replied with “I know.” I never understood when people pointed out things they didn’t like about themselves or simply didn’t have confidence.
Confidence is what made me happy. I never doubted myself: my appearance, my decisions, my intelligence, or anything really. I loved myself for my flaws, my mistakes and everything that I was, so I wanted everyone else to also.
“Love yourself,” I told my friends when they came to me crying about a boy, saying they were “too fat” or comparing themselves to the looks of someone else. I could see their smiles grow wider and their confidence grow stronger every time I replied, “love yourself.”
I think I repeated those two words so much over the years that they started to lose meaning for me. Saying, “love yourself” every time I had a negative thought, picked out a flaw in the mirror or compared myself to some “perfect” person on Instagram wasn’t enough anymore. I wasn’t enough. The things that my friends said about themselves started to make sense, and I started to feel my confidence weakening.
No one was there to tell me to “love yourself,” and I slowly stopped relaying that to everyone I met. Then, I realized what I had been doing wrong all along. People never repeated the phrase “love yourself” to me because they never had to convince me of that. Loving myself was something that I did because I wanted to. It was something that I never hesitated to do. It was something that no one else could help me with.
But hearing nice words and affirmations is helpful, right? Yes, but only temporarily. They make you smile, and they reassure you, but they always leave you wanting more. Every time I told someone “you are enough, you are beautiful, you are intelligent. Love yourself,” it left them wanting more. It is up to us to believe these things about ourselves because they are true about each and every one of us.
I now hardly ever mutter the words “love yourself” unless someone really needs to hear them. I have grown confident in myself and show love to myself through self-care — spending time with myself, being at peace with my thoughts, loving the life that I live. Words only last so long, but really loving yourself can last forever.