This is a topic that I have never, personally, talked about with anyone in my life. I’ve felt too embarrassed to speak about it, and honestly being vulnerable is extremely difficult for me to do if it’s not in writing. So, I decided I’d just tell the entire Internet instead…
Recently, I was in a good relationship. I was happy and I did love him, but when we broke up I felt like I didn’t know who I was or what I used to like doing before he came into my life. During the relationship, I made the mistake of making it all about him in my mind to the point where I wasn’t really thinking about my self as a top priority as I should have. My struggle with self-love has nothing to do with him and everything to do with me; he is a good human being that I’m glad that I got to share a moment of my life with and get to know him. He was my distraction from myself when we were together, which felt great at the time because I was happy and in love, but it made the breakup that much harder because now I was back to being with myself with no one else to focus on.
As I’ve had time to look back on the relationship, I’d like to thank him because he taught me a lot about myself whether he knows that or not. He taught me what I don’t want in my next relationship and what I do want. I learned that I need to speak up for myself and things I love matter just as much as his. I have a voice and an opinion and I need to use it. Which I find this ironic because I’m a big believer in speaking up for what you want and what you believe in, yet I seldom ever stand up for myself. But I guess it’s the same thing when you give advice to other people, you believe in it but you don’t actually do it.
I have struggled with self-love in waves since middle school. I feel like most people would say that it’s common because that’s when you’re going through puberty and bigger life changes than you have ever before, but that shouldn’t be normal. Hating your body and hating who you are as a person should never be normal. My self-love struggle really gained momentum during my freshman year of high school. I didn’t want to do anything that I had liked to do before, I was overly self-conscious and hyper-aware of everything that I did – and to be honest I’m still like that, but I’m working on it – and it didn’t help that the friends that I had weren’t the friends for me. It was quite possibly the darkest time of my life.
Now, I’m not saying that I have full 100% self-love and self-confidence, I don’t, but it’s something to keep striving for. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m not where I was and that’s something to be proud of. Because self-love is hard. Really hard. Especially in our society. As a girl, I feel the social pressures to act, think, dress a certain way, have a perfectly balanced life, be small and quiet, all tied together with the perfect man. Which sucks. My life is completely unbalanced. I am not small – I am a human so I’m going to take up space so why am I shrinking myself to make others comfortable? I don’t look like the girls on Instagram or on TV. And I don’t have the perfect boyfriend. And I’m okay with all these things in my life. But society and social media are always present and shouting at me that there’s something wrong with me because I don’t have those things.
Don’t get me wrong, I love social media, obviously. I have always been a fan of it, but there are absolutely a lot of negatives about it. I mentioned in this Instagram post and this Instagram post a couple months back where I talked a little bit about this subject, 92% of teen girls would like to change something about the way they look, with body weight ranking the highest. (http://www.heartofleadership.org/statistics/) There are even more heartbreaking statistics included on that link that we need to be aware of. We need to teach our sons and daughters from a very young age to place value on themselves. We need to teach them that they are beautiful the way they are, and just because they look at someone that they think is beautiful that doesn’t mean they are any less. We are all our own different kind of beautiful. We need to teach them that a beautiful, caring, and kind heart are just as important as a person’s outside appearance.
I cannot encourage enough that loving yourself is just as important as loving someone else. I am trying to be real and honest in hopes that I can help someone, even if it’s just one because this is hard to deal with and talk about it. But we need to start talking about it. All the love I had for my past relationship, I’m giving it to myself. Self-love is not selfish. You’re stuck with yourself your entire life. Might as well start loving you.
It’s a long, hard journey but it’s worth it in the end. Invest in yourself, just like you invest in someone else in a relationship.