How Strengthening My Life Helped Me Love Myself
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Health and Wellness

How Strengthening My Life Helped Me Love Myself

Why It's About More Than The Face In The Mirror

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How Strengthening My Life Helped Me Love Myself
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Loving yourself should be a simple concept, but for some reason as we get older we find ourselves comparing what we have, and look like, and enjoy with the constructs set up by society, and with our peers, and just with others in general. I'm guilty of this comparison, and guilty of competing with people for no reason. Recently I took a step back and realized that I needed to start focusing on my own wellness. Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual health are things that we know are necessary, but we don't always realize they are the necessary moving parts in helping us love the entire machine of who we are.

Being beautiful isn't just a physical attribute. Being beautiful involves many different aspects of your life. Jesse McCartney wrote an entire song about a Beautiful Soul. Being beautiful isn't just having flawless skin, entrancing eyes, a good body, or nice hair. It's about being kind, showing the best parts of your best self. Being a support system for other people, having love and compassion, basically embodying a Disney Princess without the need to be saved...

The biggest help I had in learning to love myself was from those who loved me. I surrounded myself with strong people, who perceived my victories as their own, who celebrated my breakthroughs as heartily as I did. These weren't just the strong women who encourage my gains in the gym, but also the men who weren't threatened by my strength, and cheered for my progress. These weren't just people who understood my need for a relationship with God, but friends who sent me verses or devotionals that they knew pertained to the struggles I was facing. This process also included separating myself from people who were toxic. People who only kept me around for their own gain, or were fair weathered friends. I didn't exile them from my process, I just let them know how I would and would not allow people to treat me. The foundation of these people were my family, the people who told me they loved me no matter what happened. This unwavering love and support paved the way for me to learn to love myself.

I have found my fitness niche in the Crossfit world. I understand that it's not for everyone, but it works for me. It's the closest thing I could find to the team workouts that my life revolved around until my college eligibility ran out and I was on my own when it came to physical wellness. The Crossfit communities I consider myself a part of are like a family. They will cheer you on as you cry for the last part of a workout, they will congratulate you on a PR, and they will push you to be the best you can be (all while retaining proper and safe form). One day I realized that I was confident as hell in the gym. I knew I could lift some heavy weight, and I was proud of the accomplishments I had achieved in that setting. Gradually i tried to apply that same confidence and pride to the other aspects of my life. I tried to be just as proud and confident about my participation in class discussions, in the way I danced when I was out on a Saturday night. Once i realized the girl in the gym was the same girl everywhere else I began to love myself and my accomplishments in every venue.

My emotional health rollercoaster has been through it's fair share of ups and downs. I felt a crippling sense of inadequacy grip my entire being as I started college. This inadequacy loosened it's hold periodically, as I was successful in the classroom, on the lacrosse field, or in some other capacity. But as soon as I thought I had failed I was once again in a downward spiral of being never good enough. I had a conversation with both of my parents one day, and I remember when my dad told me I was enough, and my mom said she would love me no matter what I did because while they would like to see me be successful (and had worked tirelessly to ensure I had the tools to be), sometimes you fail repeatedly before you have your success. In that instant a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I knew that failure was bound to happen, but my failure didn't make me less than the person next to me, it just meant I needed to do something different. While competing with people will always be a part of who I am, I no longer compare myself to a debilitating degree. I recognize that I am enough, it's okay to be sad, and it's okay to break down. What's not okay is unpacking yourself and living in that sadness or in that perpetual breakdown.

My spiritual journey hasn't really been filled with me eschewing from God because I was angry with him, or I blamed him for something. I strayed from my faith because I hadn't taken the time to really explore my relationship with God. I knew I would see Him on my judgement day, and was ashamed of some of the choices I had made, so I felt if I kept him at an arms length and covered the bases of being a Christian I would be okay. I didn't realize that He was a part of my everyday life, and how much He has given me, and played a role in who I am. I figured I knew The Word well enough, I had given up my soul to the One True Savior, and I was good to go. I couldn't have been more wrong. I needed to build my relationship with God in the good times, not just in the bad. I began to thank Him for putting certain people in my life, I thanked Him for giving me the ability to succeed in school, and then when I was faced with trials I asked Him to lead me through the storm. When I started to view God as a friend, someone who would be there for me even when I disappointed Him by not acting in a very Christian way, and not just as the almighty power that would judge me at the end of my life journey I felt a greater sense of peace. I felt as though I was making better choices, I was living in a way that my parents could be proud of, and I was going to be a vessel for Him.

Everyone has their own journey to self love. I just don't want anyone to be discouraged because they're currently struggling. There are still some days when I wake up and it's not a good day, my hair is being ridiculously unruly, my skin is rebelling, my motivation to go to the gym doesn't exist, and I feel about as desirable as a potato. But most days I wake up and realize that I'm a strong, beautiful woman who is gonna kick the day's ass. I'm going to continue working everyday, this will never be a task that is completed, but for the first time in a long time, the days I wake up loving the person I am, and going to bed still loving that same person outnumber the days I feel inadequate.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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