1. The feeling of being truly healthy. If you are eating terrible food and not moving enough, or exhausting yourself drinking until three AM four nights a week, only you really know it. And even if someone touches your body and says it is beautiful, only you know if you are really treating it well. Being told you look slim or your skin is glowing is not a replacement for actually treating your body with respect.
2. Confidence to ask for what you deserve in a relationship, whether platonic or romantic. Perhaps someone will just happen to treat you well, but if you are not ready to demand it, you can never expect to find it in your relationships. And if you don’t feel that you are fundamentally worthy of being treated with respect and compassion, no one is going to convince you that you are.
3. The understanding of what exactly makes you feel good sexually, and what your body most responds to. Being afraid to touch and listen to your body when you are on your own will only ensure that there will remain worlds of pleasure and adventure that you’ll never know how to explore (or even ask for) with someone else.
4. A night of sleep where you can completely let go and know that every last thing on your list has been taken care of to the best of your ability. When you put things off or do them half-assed, only you know it, and only you will lose sleep of it (even if you’re convincing everyone else that you have your shit together).
5. Genuine happiness for people around you who are having wonderful things happen to them. Ultimately, being able to be supportive and content for others has nothing to do with whether or not you have the exact same thing as they do. (We all know that we are happy for others only when we are happy with ourselves, and that it really has nothing to do with them as individuals, but it’s so hard to remember when you’re watching someone’s wedding photos on Facebook that look like they were curated by Better Homes and Gardens.)
6. The satisfaction of knowing you are good at your job. You can fake it at a job that allows you to surf celebrity gossip sites for far more time than any human should have their eyeballs on such a thing, but even an oblivious boss won’t recreate the feeling of being a hard worker.
7. A feeling of fulfillment at the end of your weekend. Spending the entire weekend bouncing from club to club and seeing several hundred of your closest acquaintances does not automatically equal feeling like your time was well-spent, or you didn’t miss anything. If you’re going out just for the sake of being somewhere other than your own bedroom, avoiding being by yourself will never make you feel satisfied.
8. Approval over what you’re doing with your life. Because there will always be people in your life whose full support we will never really get, and constantly chasing after their love like we’re on some kind of emotionally-draining treadmill will only make us hate ourselves. If you want to feel good and proud and worthy for something you are choosing to do, you have to remind yourself that you don’t need anyone else to validate your existence.
9. A healthy amount of narcissism. If taking selfies or wearing extravagant clothes or spending two hours on your hair makes you feel good and beautiful and happy, there is nothing fucking wrong with that. At the end of the day, as you are the only one in your skin, it is really only your own opinion of your beauty that matters. And letting the world convince you that feeling good about yourself is cocky or shallow is a game you can never win.
10. The time to let yourself heal from things. When someone passes away, or breaks your heart, or abandons you, everyone will have something to say. They’ll all want to make you feel better, and help the healing process, and make things make sense. But some things are just going to take a long time to get better, and no one’s words are really going to mean anything, no matter how good their intentions. And there is no such thing as taking to long to feel better or not doing it in the right way. If you are still in pain, it’s no one’s place to tell you to get over it.