Self-respect isn’t about wearing conservative clothing because you have no respect if you walk around with your cleavage showing. It isn’t about staying sober because you have no respect if you get drunk in public. That’s all bullshit.
You can respect yourself in skimpy clothing. You can respect yourself after three or four drinks. Self-respect isn’t about the way you appear. It’s about the way you let other people treat you — and the way you treat yourself.
Self-respect means deleting toxic people from your life. Even if you’ve been best friends with them since pre-school. Even if they are a member of your family and helped raise you.
It means realizing when a particular person belongs in your past and not in your future, and taking action to distance yourself from them at the risk of being called a bitch. At the risk of feeling like a horrible person for turning your back on someone who has always been there since birth.
Self-respect means speaking up when someone mistreats you. It means letting the world know that you are not a pushover. That even though you are usually the sweet one, when someone crosses the line, you aren’t going to stand for it.
It means changing your mindset from I deserve to be treated like shit to they have no excuse for treating me like that. It means realizing that you deserve to receive respect from everyone around you, from your boss to your parents to your siblings.
Self-respect means refusing to date someone, or be friends with someone, who purposely puts you down. Someone who makes nasty comments about the outfits that you’re wearing and makes you feel inferior because of your car or your career.
It means walking away from anyone who makes you feel like you aren’t good enough, like you are only a burden, like you are inherently worthless — because you know that’s not the truth. You know how much value you hold.
Self-respect means knowing what you need and allowing yourself to have it. It means letting yourself hit the snooze button to stay in bed for a little while longer when you know you need the rest. It means splurging on a spa treatment or that extra glass of sangria at the bar, because you had a long week and need to relax.
And if someone touches you without your permission or believes they have earned the right to sleep with you just for buying you a drink, you don’t give into their pressure. Because self-respect means taking control of your own body.
So you speak up, even if it’s uncomfortable. You let them know how you feel, even if you upset them. You understand that you are in control of your own body and that you get to make your own choices.
Self-respect means making the decisions you know are right for you, even if it’s hard, even if it’s going to piss some people off. It means giving yourself the chance to follow your heart and achieve your dreams because you know that you have earned the chance to do that.
Self-respect means realizing what a beautiful, kind soul you are. It means knowing that you have something special to offer this world. And it means never accepting anything less than you deserve.