Growing up, I always believed that loving who you are was a trait reserved only for the arrogant. I strongly believed that it was an act that made people perceive you as self-absorbed and caring way too much about what people thought of me; I avoided it. I lacked confidence, and compared myself to others in many ways. Looking back, this all stems back from when I was younger, and loving yourself would be used as some sort of insult. A vain, posing person would be greeted with the sly slur of “Gosh, don’t they love themselves?!”, as if valuing your self-worth was something shameful and only found in those who appear outwardly over-confident. I put myself down to the point that it limited my happiness, and I cared too much about what other people thought of my decisions to the point where I wasn’t happy with them myself. I didn’t wear the clothes I liked, as I never felt attractive enough to pull them off. I wouldn’t do things I enjoyed as I never felt confident enough to do them. On the outside, I appeared to be a fun-loving person, the joker of the group at times. The truth is that I would make fun of myself in order to remove the opportunity for other people to do so. I’m not going to pretend that self-love is something that happens overnight, and that you just wake up one day and put all of your insecurities to bed. I’m not a very confident person, and I don’t think that will change. But, my favourite analogy on self-confidence is this;
“Confidence is not ‘They will like me’. Confidence is ‘I will be fine if they don’t’.”
I used to think that confidence was arrogance. I believed that accepting compliments, or being proud of your achievements, or not pulling yourself down was abnormal. In fact, this is the minimum you should do for yourself. Here’s a bullet-pointed list of what self-love means to me.
- Be whoever you want to be. If you want to dye your hair a cool colour, wear the brightest clothes, or sing at the top of your voice, then go ahead and do it. Loving yourself enough to have the confidence to do things that make you feel good is important, and you deserve it.
- Accept your body, and don’t let it hold you back. Instead of not wearing a bikini on the beach because you don’t feel confident enough, let go of your insecurities and have fun.
- Don’t hold onto toxic friendships or relationships, or any negative past events/thoughts.
- Follow your goals, if you want to do something allow yourself the opportunity. You need to believe in yourself as you are capable of a lot more than you think.
- Make the most of things, and strive to have fun, be kind, and be happy.
- Remember that everyone has bad days. You may not feel good enough, but there is no reason why you should let minor things hold you back. We all have flaws, but I believe this is what makes us all unique. Embrace them.
- Point out something that you like about yourself every day. These could be things such as how great you did your eyeliner, how you helped a friend or how you are proud of your achievements.
- I find myself comparing myself too much to other people. Recently, I realised how truly unnecessary this is. Everyone is on a different journey, and at different stages. Don’t compare the beginning of your journey to your goals to the end-point of someone else’s. Equally, social media is great fun, but remember that in some sense it is a “highlight reel” and only shows the parts of a person’s life that they want you to see.
You never need to compare yourself to others, or justify your choices to them. You are your own person, and there is never going to be another one of you, which even if you don’t believe it, means that you are more than worthy. You can spend years of your life hating yourself over tiny flaws and mistakes, but this won’t change anything about you at all, except from removing your happiness and confidence. Focus on the good things and where you want to be, and most importantly, love yourself for who you are and never feel the need to change it. I’ve realized now that self-love isn’t arrogant, it is something that we all deserve to feel.