Ways I’ve Learned To Love Myself
I normally don’t write anything related to Valentine’s Day because it’s a holiday that I don’t really celebrate. By the time it rolls around each year, the only way I know it’s coming is by reading posts and buying all the delicious chocolates that start popping up in the stores.
This year, I wanted to take some time to talk about 7 things I have learned to love about myself. Even though there are things that you may not like or are embarrassed about, it’s important to learn to love it all!
This is probably the biggest and most obvious one. Growing up, there was always someone that I thought was prettier and thinner than me. You know what? I was right! There will always be people who have characteristics that I want and will never have. My ideal woman had long legs, a perpetual tan, and looked like a Victoria’s Secret model. I always felt that my athletic build made me look stocky and my legs were too big.
It took years of trying to make myself look like someone I could never be to realize that it wasn’t feasibly possible. Even when I got as close as I could to my version of perfection, I still wasn’t happy. The tagline of this site, “wellness comes from within,” is a testament to the fact that fixing the outside will never make you as happy as finding it from within.
Despite having a hard time expressing emotions growing up, I always felt them very strongly. Being faced with any kind of animal or child in need would INSTANTLY make me feel like my heart was breaking and I wanted to take care of everything that I could. Don’t even get me started on commercials with any kind of heart warming scenes.
I was also able to go very far on the other end of the spectrum and feel a sadness that’s hard to even put into words. I had trouble dealing with all these emotions, especially without an outlet, so I decided that they were destructive to my life and I should block them out.
Today, I love that I love things so much. I’m glad that I can experience these feelings, even if at times it can be uncomfortable. I feel like more of a well-rounded person and not as much of a robot.
In the middle of last year I was diagnosed with depression. I can’t say that I was totally taken by surprise, but it was alarming to me that it had reached the point that it did. Despite all of my talk about transparency and breaking the stigma around any addiction or mental illness, my initial reaction was still “why can’t I be normal,” which, to me, is a thought that actually means “this makes me less of a person.”
For me (and MANY others), this is normal. There is no perfect and no definition of an ideal human being. I appreciate my struggle because it allows me to connect with other people who have gone through the same thing and it is another subject that I am personally involved with and can speak out about.
Growing up, I was in my school’s choir. By the time I got to 10th grade, I was a member of chamber choir, which was my school’s highest level. I was also TERRIFIED of anyone hearing me sing. I was fine in a group, but solo vocal tests literally almost made me throw up. I talked myself up about being such a good singer, but then refused to sing for anyone unless it was required. As the years went on, I built it up so much that I definitely knew that all the talk I was doing didn’t actually add up to my ability.
I didn’t sing around anyone else because I felt I was never good enough. Only recently (and after almost 5 years together) will I sing around Neil. It’s gotten to a point where I realized that I love to sing and if I want to do it, I’m going to do it. I definitely don’t think he will divorce me if I don’t meet his singing standards. Plus, I’m awesome.
5. Obsessive Tendencies
I can be a little OCD. My saying this is not to diminish anyone who has legitimate OCD issues, but ever since I was young I’ve had rituals or repetitions that I’ve incorporated into my life. They became so common that I didn’t even realize I was doing them and thankfully they didn’t interfere with much of my life. In addition to several others, I have a thing about symmetry so if, for instance, Neil will kiss me on the cheek I tell him to also kiss me on the other one or I’ll feel really uncomfortable. Of course he likes to terrorize me and run away without doing it or take furniture and move everything slightly crooked like an evil, evil man.
It’s not an everyday thing and often time will go by without it even being an issue. It also makes me hyper vigilant about dates and times and I have to check my alarm more than once or I can’t get to sleep (another one Neil likes to mock). What I’ve learned to love about it is that I am always super prepared and early to things and that’s alright in my book!
I used to think that I was a bad person because I didn’t want to go hang out with people all the time and I HATED small talk. I found it pointless and draining. I preferred being home in the evenings and relaxing on the couch or reading a book. The thought of being out late with other people stressed me out, but that’s what a lot of my friends were doing, so I thought I was doing something wrong.
I love the introverted part of me. Now that I’ve learned to stop people pleasing and own my feelings, I have no problem letting people know that I’m not up for a party or if I go, that I’ll probably head out early. A lot of my previous behavior revolved around wanting people to like me, but now that I like myself just fine I can stick to what I do and don’t want to do.
Obviously, this post would not be complete without referencing my past. It honestly didn’t take me long to accept what had happened and own those years as something that made me who I am today. Without it, I wouldn’t have any of the life I have today and this blog would cease to exist. It’s easy to be hard on yourself for past mistakes, but it’s almost easier to accept them when you’ve made SO MANY. If I used my past as a proverbial bat, I would be beaten down in no time. Rather than demean myself, I changed my perspective and looked at it with another view.
I can’t say that I love the things I did or the way I treated those I cared about, but I love that my journey has allowed me to become a better version of myself and that I am capable of repairing that damage to the best of my ability. I love the experience I gained and the opportunity to turn my life around for the better.
Related: My Struggle For A Healthy Lifestyle
Thanks to Amanda for letting me think out loud.
- What things have you learned to love about yourself?