My journey into self-love and acceptance has been a long one, but a number of events in the past year have awakened something in me and given me traction to really work on my personal growth. I turned a negative situation into something positive and I’ve decided to bet on myself.
Personal growth is not merely developing your skills and talents but also moving on from past traumas and reprogramming your brain to stop tired old patterns of unhealthy behavior and self-destructive coping mechanisms.
I’ve spent my whole life thinking I was too ugly, too fat, too talentless, and questioning why nobody ever reciprocated my feelings when I had so much love to give. But the problem is that I didn’t extend that same love and kindness to myself, and it showed. I got lost in a labyrinth of self-doubt I could never get out of.
It’s incredibly difficult to become self-aware enough to figure out your own unhealthy patterns and even harder to turn them into something good or channel them in a productive, constructive way. For me, it started with running in the morning when I couldn’t sleep because my heart was breaking into bits, then it turned into riding my bike at sunset to deal with all my suppressed feelings. Later, it turned into art and meditation and a number of healthier coping mechanisms, but I’m still working to unlearn a lot of those unhealthy patterns. It’s not easy, and you have to be mindful because you can’t undo a lifetime of behavioral patterns in a few days. And above all, YOU have to really want to change.
And unlike what the magazines tell you, self-love isn’t just face masks on a Sunday night. It’s also walking away from that person who doesn’t value you and learning to value yourself. It’s pushing toxic people away and taking care of your mental, emotional, and physical needs. It’s listening to that little voice that tells you something is wrong and not ignoring it for a few hours of that dopamine high.
Self-love can take on many forms, but the one constant is that you do what’s best for you. No exceptions. It doesn’t mean you’re selfish, it just means you’re a priority.
Because who’s going to be there for you when you’re crying for yet another emotionally unavailable guy at 3 a.m.? Or when you feel depressed for days after crawling back to that girl who you have amazing sex with but who manipulates you and treats you like you’re worthless? You are. And you need to be kind to yourself, as you would be with a friend.
Forgive your own shortcomings and accept who you are. Don’t try to change into what others expect of you. And yes, that includes not getting into messy situationships because you’re negating your needs to be with a person who wouldn’t even move a finger to make you happy. Stop betraying yourself by seeking love and validation in all the wrong places. Move on from that thing that makes you feel good short-term but that’s not what you need to feel focused and centered long-term.
Choose yourself so that one day, in the future, you can look back and be proud of what you have achieved. And you’ll eventually find your person after you’ve found yourself.
I look forward to meeting someone I can dance with barefoot in the kitchen at 2 a.m., someone who kisses my forehead and understands the respect it conveys, someone who accepts both my good and my naughty sides, someone smart who makes me laugh and talks to me about everything there is in the Universe and gets excited about nerdy, adorable things.
And children are neither a priority or something I ever thought about wanting, but if someday I’m at a place with someone where I feel that it makes sense for us, I hope I can teach my children to be kind to others and to love themselves unconditionally.
Let’s try to break the cycle for the people in our lives, but above all, for ourselves.