I realised something pretty interesting today. I was watching an inspiring video over on YouTube by a favourite vlogger called Ashley (watch it above – about 6 mins, you will enjoy and also learn how to do a cool ponytail ‘thingie’), and she was talking about how beauty is perceived and how nobody has that perfect beauty that every seems to be trying to attain, and how everybody has their insecurities.
And I agree with her. I think so many different things can be beautiful. Someone’s laugh, their slight accent when they talk, their humour, the colour of their eyes. How passionate they are about their job, or how much they adore their pet lizard. Their smile. And you can bet that everyone has at least one insecurity that they are trying to deal with. That niggling thing that bothers them.
But that’s not what I realised. What I realised is that my own appreciation of how I look has improved radically since I was in high school. I have to preface my explanation of this by saying that I only ever thought as myself as ‘average-looking’, but to be average was one of the worst things EVER at the time (to me).
I made a decision around when I turned 19 that I wouldn’t indulge in those damaging thoughts anymore – I would make a conscious choice to love myself. Self-love was not a concept that I had much experience with at the time – it seemed completely alien, but just intriguing enough that I was willing to try it out, as long as it was in secret. (That makes it sound dirty or suggestive, but that’s not what I’m talking about, guys!)
I think one of the first walls many people come up against when they are thinking about loving themselves more is ‘oh I can’t do that! Doesn’t that mean I would be narcissistic? I don’t want to seem stuck up!’. It’s a real problem that you have to consider. I have to tell you, though, narcissistic personality disorder is a completely different kettle of fish. It’s where you become SO obsessed, so absolutely ENAMOURED with yourself that you exclude all other opinions and just focus on yourself. I tend to think of it as a defense mechanism for someone that desperately needs love and attention, or has experienced past crazy trauma, that they had to retreat into their own love for themselves, which then became obsession.
Self-love is something that I see as much gentler, much more compassionate and beautiful and SO worth cultivating. It’s where you treat yourself like your own best friend, and you come to appreciate your own talents, quirks, and sense of humour. And you know what? When you cultivate self-love, others around you will see you become lighter, brighter, even more beautiful. If you affirm to yourself that you are beautiful, flaws and all, others will begin to see it, too.
From a frightened teenager just wanting to change something in herself, to the woman I am today, I have to say that I am a firm supporter in self-love. With self-love, you can let go of those crazy expectations of yourself and replace them with compassion for who you are, and whatever you’re going through. You also begin to let go of caring about what people think of you – I no longer go out trying to cover up certain parts of myself, or sitting in a certain way, or constantly worrying that the girl or guy over there is staring at me because of the acne on myself. I just look right back at them, as if to say ‘yes, I am here. I like the way I look. You know, you’re pretty cute, too!’ Or something to that effect.
Because that’s the other thing I want to mention about self-love – you know all that stuff that people spout about how you ‘can’t love others until you love yourself’? Loving yourself changes you. It makes you more compassionate to what other people are going through, because you soften the parts of you that are so scared of being judged by others. If you don’t fear being judged anymore, you are less likely to judge others and make them feel vulnerable and ugly.
This has been a bit of a ranting post, but I hope it hit a chord with you. If you choose to act on this or not (or if you already are!), just know that everyone is beautiful in their own special way. I see that beauty in you, and I send you support on your journey to soften fear within yourself.
Also check the related topics:Self esteem Body Image