By Anita Moyale, G11
TW: Body image
Self-esteem is something just about everyone struggles with – if you haven’t, you’re probably lying. It’s really hard to finally get over trying to become someone you’re not and accept who you are; especially so seeing as we are in lockdown, stuck with our own company every waking minute of the day. My confidence journey began around the same time quarantine did – mid-March of this year. I’ll admit, there are times where I don’t love what I see when I look in the mirror, but I’ve learned how to get myself out of this state of mind and want to teach you to do the same.
I don’t think I need to clarify this, but I will anyways: self-love is the most important kind of love. I know it’s a cheesy and overused line but it rings true – “you have to love yourself before you can love anyone else”.
The first step in the journey to being comfortable with yourself is realising why you aren’t. Pinpoint exactly what’s making you feel bad about being you. Is it your body? A specific part of your face? Certain people in your life? It can be just about anything. Once you’ve done so, you need to think about whether it’s something you can fix healthily. If it’s somebody that’s bringing you down, try talking to them and explaining to them how they make you feel. If that doesn’t work, you might consider rethinking your relationship with them or cutting them off – I know it’s hard to do so, but don’t put yourself in harm’s way just to keep someone who doesn’t deserve to be in your life in it. If you want, try manifesting! I recommend watching Naomi Rosenthal’s or Luca Whitaker’s video(s) on it to gain a better understanding of the Law of Attraction and how it works. Once you recognise what you can do – if anything – start doing it. It may be hard to get into it at first but if you really want it you’ll do it. But what if you can’t do anything? Some things just simply cannot be changed through a workout or drinking more water. For example, I remember wanting a thigh gap so badly in grade 7 because all the models I looked up to at the time did. I worked out for months trying to get one, but never did. I then read an article that explained how some bodies just cannot have thigh gaps – their bone and muscle structure won’t permit it. This is when I stopped trying and started accepting that I couldn’t do anything. Over the years, I’ve started to see myself in a new light. I may not fit the standard of a thin model, but my body is still beautiful. This all happened when I started broadening my expectations of myself – once you stop comparing yourself to people that you’ll never look like, you’ll start seeing things so differently. But you need to remember that self-love isn’t just about your appearance.
You could be considered the most beautiful person on the exterior, but if you don’t like what’s inside then you’ll never feel this beauty. I honestly can’t tell you step-by-step how you can start loving who you are as a person. That’s up to you. But I can give you some tips that really helped me do so:
These are kind of linked to the Law of Attraction, but much less intense. If you don’t know, affirmations are basically just positive statements that usually involve personal pronouns (“I”, “my”, etc.). An example of an affirmation is “I love and believe in the person I’m becoming”. As simple as that. You should repeat these statements to yourself while looking in the mirror. I don’t have an exact number of times that they should be repeated – just do it until you truly believe it.
Surround yourself with the right people
If you’re constantly around people that bring you down, then it doesn’t matter how you feel about yourself inside because those around you aren’t helping you feel that very way. Not only do the types of people you choose to be around help determine your level of confidence, they also usually represent what you think of yourself. If you deem yourself worthy of people who make you feel good about yourself, then you’ll try and surround yourself with these people. If you’re around people that continuously treat you badly – whether it be obvious or not – then, deep down, you probably think that’s what you deserve. The right people can make the biggest difference in your self-love journey.
Understand that confidence is key
Something my friend recently told me is that “you’re not confident because you’re hot, you’re hot because you’re confident”. This is so true – the energy that you give off is what people see you as. If you choose to present yourself in a confident manner, not caring what others think, it will show. You have to remember that no one really cares as much as you think. People probably overlook most of your insecurities, not seeing anything wrong with them. You have to get over yourself because caring what others think is the biggest confidence killer. Little things to help with this could bewearing things that make you feel good – confident. Your sense of style is a form of expression, it allows people to understand you and what you like. Don’t let anyone or anything – social media trends included! – dictate what you can and cannot wear. As long as you feel comfortable and confident, wear what you want. It feels really good.
I know that this 1000 word article is not going to change how you view yourself overnight – it shouldn’t. Self-love is a journey, longer for some than it is for others. It’s okay to experiment and make mistakes along the way – that’s how you learn. Over time, it just becomes a natural thing, you get the hang of it. Something else to keep in mind too is that the journey isn’t linear. It’s going to fluctuate, full of highs and lows. You have to be prepared for that, prepared to keep pushing even when you don’t think you can. Just don’t lose sight of what you’re actually working towards, and remember that you are loved – even when it doesn’t feel like it.
Cover Image courtesy of Angela Treat Lyon, 2010