Writing by Julie Young // Collage by Eugenia Loli
All people—girls, women, boys, men, and everything in between—are pressured by society to be a certain way. I know I did not like how I looked growing up. Was it the countless store advertisements I’d see walking through the mall of skinny women barely wearing any clothing? Was it because I grew up in a very health-conscious and somewhat-fit family? Or was it because my mother made me wear a one-piece to the pool, which left me with a sense of insecurity? Looking back, I know that I can’t blame other people for what had happened to me. To be blunt, it was my own doing.
In school, we are taught how to do long division, what the powerhouse of a cell is, and even how to be nice to other people. The unfortunate part is that we were left, stranded, to figure out on our own, how to love ourselves.
Self-love is an internal battle. It is a trudge up a mountain full of hurdles and rocks falling with you as the target. There is no easy fix or no over the counter medicine to achieve self-love. It is all up to you. So how do I practice self-love? Of course I have bad days, worse days, and even terrible days, but every once in awhile I have good days. I have learned to appreciate the good days and to cherish them and to be thankful as to why they are good.
But I don’t want to make this article about me. I want to make this about us. I want each and every person reading this to learn self-love while loving others at the same time. So let me try and help you understand exactly what self-love is, why it’s important, and ways we can practice it.
The definition of self-love is, “the instinct by which one’s actions are directed to the promotion of one’s own welfare or well-being.” Self-love does not translate to “conceited” or “self-obsessed”. To me, self-love is something everyone needs in order to grow and become the best person they can be. I know the battle can be different for everyone, but here are a few things I practice daily, every other day, or weekly, that give me a sense of confidence and stability.
1. Do some chores: It doesn’t sound very exciting, but doing chores, even just the smallest, fill me up with a sense of accomplishment. When I am surrounded by a cluttered area I feel more stressed and anxious. By cleaning, especially my room, it is like I am mentally detoxing any unwanted thoughts. Getting rid of the trash in my room is like throwing away an unnecessary thought in my mind. You can also listen to music while you clean!
2. Get moving: Literally, just get off the couch, and do some physical activity! Whether it’s just walking around the street or actually going to the gym, any physical activity helps to release endorphins which leads to a euphoria of happiness.
3. Pick a quality you love about yourself: If you’re feeling bad about how you look or even just your personality, I advise you to choose one thing you like about yourself. It can be your hair, your teeth, how funny you are, or how great your music taste is. Personally, I love my eyes. So on the days I don’t like looking in the mirror, I focus on how pretty I think my eyes are. Pick out your favorite quality and focus on that; as the days continue, pick out another thing, then another. Eventually, you will learn to love all the molecules that make up your beautiful self.
4. Be thankful and help people: Hopefully, everyone has something or someone they love in their life that helps keep them going. It’s important to realize what you have and what you would be if you didn’t have it. Even if it is the cashier who checks out your food at the grocery store or the person who holds open the door for you, it’s important to radiate positivity and say thank you. Being nice to people can help you be nice to yourself.
5. Admire your struggles: You are a person. You have probably gone through some life changing moment that you will never forget. Where would you be without that event? I like to think that these mountains help us to become stronger and to endure anything that is thrown at us. You are strong and you can endure this.
6. Pamper yourself: As they say in Parks and Rec, “Treat yo’ self.” This means that it’s okay to get your nails done or to eat that brownie you’ve been waiting for. It’s also important to pamper yourself on a regular basis like washing your hair or brushing your teeth. These acts, small and big, will make you feel better and healthier.
7. Don’t stress: Self-love takes time, trust me. I have been practicing it for four years and sometimes I forget how to self-love or why I should even try. It’s important because everyone deserves to be loved and respected by oneself.
I like the color of my eyes. I like the length of my hair. I love the supporting family and friends I have. I love my sense of fashion. I love that I am caring and compassionate to all living beings, even the smallest ant. I love my taste in music. I love how unique I am. I love filling my body with healthy food. I love my body. I love my flaws for they have made me stronger. And lastly, I love myself. Some may say that I am conceited, but I know I have worked hard to achieve the mental peace I have now. While it is not always stable, I am proud to love myself.[share]