We are often told to be true to ourselves, but loving ourselves? Women’s magazines often have spreads on self worth and self esteem… I love myself, do you? Or five hot ways to date yourself… etc. But let’s talk reality here. How many of you can honestly say you LOVE yourself?
I have my moments. Some days I love myself, other times I like myself and then there are some days I downright despise myself. As a teenager I thought it was necessary to not like yourself. As far as I was concerned it was part of the teenage angst code that I had signed up to uphold. But as I get older I realise every day that loving yourself doesn’t make you egotistical or selfish or arrogant. It makes you happy. Arrogance often comes from an underbelly of self-hate and a fear of being vulnerable. Embrace vulnerability! There is nothing wrong with being imperfect and vulnerable and scared… and loving yourself anyway. Right? Right.
There is a social dilemma attached to loving yourself. How can you stand up for yourself and give your opinion and be clear about your way without being seen as difficult? I think it’s all in the way that you present yourself, and the key? Respect. Respect for yourself. Respect for the people around you. Respect in the way that you state your opinion and respecting other people enough to know when to shut your trap and listen (it’s more often than any of us think, mind you).
I had an email from a beautiful friend who asked me how I stay true to myself in all of this craziness. How I stay true to myself through the pain and the late nights and the grief. After I laughed a little, I may have even snorted, because it’s only recently that I’ve started to find myself again. I was lost for a very long time. I snorted and then I was humbled… and then I sat down and I wrote this list. Tips (for myself) to staying true to myself and loving myself, bumps, lumps, imperfections and all.
Trust your gut – the gut is a powerful thing. It’s something that we are often taught to ignore in our fast paced modern world, but it is also something that in my traveling days I relied on heavily. If something doesn’t feel right, chances are, it’s not right (for you). Playing nice and going with the flow are great sometimes, but if your gut is telling you no… say no.
Stop taking everything personally – just because someone doesn’t agree with you, doesn’t mean they don’t like you. Who cares if a few people don’t like you? You do have to be respectful of everyone, but you don’t have to be everyone’s best friend. Some people just don’t mesh well, there isn’t anything wrong with that.
Let go of the moral high ground – This one is important to me. Growing up I was told to be the ‘bigger person.’ Let it go. Let it be. Don’t cause problems. But sometimes to really be true to yourself to really love yourself… if you feel shit about something you’ve done (or haven’t done) or something someone else has done it’s OK to feel it (or even say it). My husband is turning me certifiable this week. Seriously, screw the moral high ground. RAAAAHHHHH! Forgiveness is great in theory and it’s really important I think in the long run for self development and self preservation and sanity. But it’s not always sustainable day to day (or hour to hour)… sometimes you just have to be mad. Because sometimes life throws a giant shit at you and you sometimes have to stand there, covered in it for a minute and just fume… Then go and take a hot shower.
Value opinions (this includes your own) – Your friends have opinions and they matter. But so do yours. Don’t let yourself get steam rolled, treated like a doormat, or persuaded to let go of something that is really important to you. So what if you think collecting shadow puppets is the most important thing in the world. Who cares if your friends think it’s weird. Let your freak flag fly! Your opinions matter, you matter.
You are beautiful. You are worth it. You are important. But you are no more beautiful or worth it or important than any one else. Each and every one of us can make a difference, but we can make an even bigger difference together.
Loving ourselves might be a life long battle of wills. Us against ourselves. But that’s OK. It’s a war worth fighting. How can we possibly have a shot at teaching our children self-respect and self-love if we aren’t working towards the same things for ourselves?
Love yourself, because there isn’t anything wrong with it… right?