I hear it from people everywhere, their voices condescending: “How can you expect anyone to love you if you can’t love yourself?”
A few years ago, I believed them. I truly thought that if I did not learn to value myself, I would end up alone. And as someone who was ridden with depression and anxiety, that’s really what it seemed like — that I was destined to become the cat-loving spinster that I was taught to fear, that I never had a chance of finding my forever person because I couldn’t even look myself in the eye in the mirror.
I didn’t think I was smart enough. Pretty enough. I wasn’t interesting or funny or cool like the girl in the chick flicks that everyone obsessed over. I wanted to love myself, I tried my best, but it never felt like it was enough. I didn’t know how to, and so I knew, deep down in my heart, that no one else did, either.
And then one day I woke up and realized it was bullshit. I had grown up believing in a lie.
People act like they can only recognize your worth if you recognize it first. As if you are only as pretty as you believe and as valuable as you let yourself be. But the truth is that life doesn’t work that way — people can fall in love with you at any moment, at your best or your worst. People can fall in love with you when you don’t like yourself at all.
Of course, self-love is important. It’s something we should all strive to have, because life becomes easier when you truly enjoy the person you are. We are so self-critical, so slow to believe the compliments and the praise. But that doesn’t mean that if you’re struggling to get to that place, you are unlovable. You are still the wonderful person that you are, even if you can’t see it — you are funny and intelligent and kind, and anyone who matters already knows it.
People aren’t going to just wait for you to see it. They’re not going to hold back until you agree with them. They’re going to love you for it regardless, even when it’s hard for them to see you treat yourself that way. And once I started to realize that, I started to love myself, too — because there are people in this world who will care for you steadfastly and deeply, even when you don’t think you deserve it.
So here’s to you, to all the people who don’t always know how to love themselves, to all the people who struggle with self-image and self-acceptance: you are loved by somebody, and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.