As the month of love gets into full swing mutual love has taken a back seat and self-love has been thrust into the spotlight.
Claiming to be the antidote to our perpetual unhappiness, self-love has been hailed as a simple change in mindset – that with just a flick of a switch we can finally feel a glow of contentment.
But while I’m all for self-love, it’s just not that easy! – We don’t wake-up every day thinking we’re fucking awesome.
To get to a place of self-love you have to go through a journey of emotions.
Through circumstance and experience, we punish ourselves. Filling our minds with worry,
doubt, criticism, comparison, and ultimately believing we’re not good enough all the time.
It can be a vicious circle.
But you have to go through journeys to realise your strengths and where you’ve stumbled. If the path wasn’t hinged with a few thorns now and again, how would we learn about ourselves? – We’d be in a strange virtual reality where we wouldn’t actually have a clue who we are.
Each little piece of you has a lesson about self-love, every frustrating and hideous event, whether you’re willing to open your eyes to it or not.
And here’s a few of mine to give you an example;
I hated my body when I was a teenager, probably like most young girls.
My hair was too frizzy, too curly, my body was soft and I had no boobs.
No, I didn’t like my body when I was growing up, and I cringe at photos of my sixteen-year-old self. But the lesson here was that I was eating like crap, so how else would I expect to look and feel? – Plus I was still a growing human.
I hated secondary school so I ate my emotions. Bingeing on fast-food at lunch and then snacking on all the chocolate and cheesy Wotsits I could get my hands on. (Hands-up I do still have a thing for Wotsits but don’t have the five bags I used to inhale at school.)
Sometimes we are taken into troubled waters not to drown but to be cleansed.
I had an eclectic fashion sense from a young age and people found this a point of constant amusement.
While most girls my age were purchasing their clothes from Tammy or Pilot, I loved finding unique items in small boutiques me and my Mum would visit. Of course, because I was different this just led to snarky comments.
So in an attempt to ‘fit in’ and be accepted I began changing my looks all the time to whatever was ‘on trend’. Aside from costing my poor mother a small fortune, it also just made me unhappy. I didn’t feel comfortable in these clothes and they didn’t light me-up with joy.
It wasn’t until I grew in confidence and let go of other people’s expectations of me, that I began being my eclectic self again.
If it costs you your peace, it’s too expensive.
My birthmarks were fantastic joke fodder for the bullies. Especially when I hadn’t yet started to wear make-up so didn’t know how to cover them up or what with.
Instead, I just took the daily barrage of abuse that was hurled at me in the classroom or waiting in the dinner line.
At that age I hated my face and just wanted to look ‘normal’ – whatever that is!
I let it get to me so badly, that I took steps to have them removed with laser surgery, but then the day before the operation I dropped out due to fear.
I then realised that because of other people I was going to change myself – and that just seemed ridiculous.
It was the reality shock that I needed, and from then on, I have adored my unique marks and felt that they are what makes me, me.
Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.
I lacked confidence for much of my younger life and didn’t stand up for myself as I hated confrontation. This led many people to think that they could bully me.
When I moved onto college I dropped a group of friends who I thought were my friends, but were actually causing much of my anxiety about school. As I moved on, with nobody else’s expectations or influences on me, it was like throwing off the shackles and getting to be more me.
And this has continued ever since. If something hasn’t felt right for me, I’ve let it go.
Gaining confidence in myself and focussing on having a healthier lifestyle, meant I slowly became more accepting of my body.
The journey wasn’t over in my teens though.
Until you take the journey of self reflection, it is almost impossible to grown or learn in life.
Overworking to the point that I was spotty and exhausted, made me realise I wasn’t valuing my own health.
Now I’ve made rituals (routines sounds rather formal) for creating time for myself, allowing my mind and my body to feel better.
Self-love isn’t a state of vanity that leads me to believe I’m a perfect human being, it’s a state of acceptance. I’m in progress, I’m not perfection.
I’ve made mistakes, I’ve hurt people and felt like an utter shit for it. But that’s life, it gives you the rain and the rainbows, and you have to realise both have their reasons.
Self-love for me has been a messy and complicated affair, that will no doubt continue until I’m a ripe old age. And do you know what, I’m fine with that. There may be a few war wounds, but oh boy has the journey so far been interesting.
Don’t beat yourself up this month, take at least one day to give yourself a break.
What if you simply devoted this year to loving yourself?
To celebrate valentines and the beauty of self-love, I’ve listed below 10 things you can do to celebrate you, in all your awesomeness.
Don’t feel pressured to complete all ten, just pick one that resonates with you.
1 – Book a date with yourself – whether it’s that long bath you’ve been promising yourself or just taking yourself for lunch.
2 – Write your future-self a love letter – that’s it, tell the future you how amazing you are, no negatives allowed.
3 – Massage your own feet before bed – it may sound bizarre, but it’s incredibly good for you.
4 – Make yourself something delicious – don’t sit there on your phone, enjoy each mouthful in its entirety.
5 – Take 5 – yes, even if it’s five minutes, find somewhere quiet and just sit in silence.
6 – Buy flowers – fill your home with something that lifts you up.
7 – Sing out loud – it feels good, and if you add some crazy moves, the silly joy will put a smile on your face.
8 – Stay off social media for a day – we can get a little too wrapped up in everyone else. So stay away from it for just one day.
9 – Get dressed-up – even if it’s to sit and watch a film in your own home. There’s something that feels great about putting on that sparkly dress.
10 – Plant something – gardening is such a therapeutic way of getting grounded. Plant something and realise just like that seed, we too need love and nourishment to grow.
I hope you’ve found my honest self-love story helpful. And it would be incredible to hear your self-love stories, so please comment below and share the love!