I'm Starting To Love Myself And It's The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done

I'm Starting To Love Myself And It's The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done

I deserve this.
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No, I don't want to do that.

Yes, I'm going to try this instead.

I'm going to learn how to _____.

I'm making these changes in my life to make myself a better person.

Because I want to.

Because I deserve better than this.

In the last few days, I've decided to make a radical decision. After 20 years of self-sabotaging, self-sacrificing, and overall making other people happy at my own expense, I've decided it's finally time to learn how to love myself.

This decision came out of the blue the other day and, while it'd probably be better to implement these changes one at a time, I've decided to dive into the deep end and start loving myself at every step along the way.

Yesterday this meant buying fruit, going to the gym, and letting myself fall asleep when I was tired.

Today it involved waking up early so I'd have extra time in the morning and wouldn't be rushing to class, eating breakfast, and letting myself watch a show in the afternoon when I had an hour-long break between class and work.

Some days it means letting go of a toxic relationship, reaching out to a friend I haven't talked to in a while, or letting myself eat my favorite comfort food.

Other days it involves going to the farmers' market, depositing money in my savings account, or calling my grandparents.

And every day, regardless of what the action is, the intention is always the same.

I'm doing this because I deserve it.

I'm doing this because I know I can be better.

I'm doing this because it's an investment in my future self, my health, and my happiness.

I'm doing this because I love myself.

And even on the days when I don't believe these words, they matter. Even on the days when I don't feel particularly loving towards myself; when my stomach sticks out too much or my hair won't lay the way I want it to, when it's hard to drag myself out of bed and all I'm craving is a slice of pizza and a nap, I remind myself that I'm loved and worthy of love.

I remind myself that I'm all I have, that my relationship with myself is the longest and the most important one I'll ever have, that telling other women to love themselves while I sit over here practicing self-loathing is hypocritical and unfair.

And on different days, "I love me" sounds different too. Some days it sounds like "I'm beautiful" and other days it sounds like "I can do this" and other days it sounds like "I'm proud of myself" and other days it sounds like "I deserve to be happy."

And at the end of the day, they all mean the same thing.

They mean that I'm done settling for less than I deserve. I'm done filling in the gaps with things and people that don't help me become the person I'm trying to be. I'm done chipping away pieces of myself and giving them away freely, expecting and receiving nothing in return. I'm done floating through life passively waiting for things to happen to me. It's time for me to take charge and to create the change I want to experience in my life.

It hasn't been easy. In fact, choosing radical self-love is the hardest thing I've ever done. But embarking on this journey has been the most worthwhile decision I've ever made. And there's no one I'd rather be experiencing it with than me.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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Stand In The Mirror

An exercise in self-love.

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If you're reading this, then I want you to stop what you're doing right now, get up from wherever you're sitting, and go stand in the mirror.

Yes, that's right. Close your laptops, put down your phones, and walk to the closest bathroom, or vanity, or wherever else you can see your reflection the most clearly. Pretend like you're the only person in the world for a little while.

Are you there? Good.

Now I want you to look at yourself, very closely.

Start with your eyes. How beautiful they look underneath the light; you can see all their colors, just like a painting! Something that unique belongs in an art museum, don't you think?

Those eyes of yours have seen so many wonderful things. Think of all the sunsets they've allowed you to witness, all the times your best friends have grinned from ear-to-ear and all the books you've read.

Now, look at your lips. Think of all the lovely people they may have kissed, all the Thanksgiving dinners they've touched and all the funny faces they've helped you express.

Think all of the times they've opened to exude laughter and joy, to express awe and other associated feelings words cannot express.

Now it's time to examine your arms. Shrug your shoulders and admire the way they fall so gently at your sides, like water flowing from the mouth of a river. Think of all the wonderful things they've helped you to reach, of all the trees they've helped you climb and monkey bars they've helped you swing through. Think of all the people they've hugged, and all the dogs they've helped you pet.

Finally, move to your legs. Think of all the races they've helped you win, all the hurdles they've helped you jump through and all the lengths they've helped you swim.

Think of all the pristine places they've carried you to, and reflect upon all the places you'll soon be heading to.

Can't you see now that you're a masterpiece, dripping with color and beauty, emotion and experience, from every fiber of your being?

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