We're going to take a moment and be honest. Okay? Okay.
Everybody's heard of this thing called self-love. To define it in my own words, I would say that it's the hardest thing any human being will ever go through that involves cleaning out the garbage and filling yourself with acceptance and love for yourself. It's typically something that's thrown around and talked about like it's easy; people say "Just love yourself! Learn about yourself!" like it's as easy as singing the alphabet, but I'm here to tell you the opposite.
Loving yourself is hard.
As a girl who's dealt with self-hatred for years, I can share that I've had a lot of negative thoughts about myself. It got to the point where I would avoid looking in mirrors and anything that could reflect my face or my body, because I was so full of hatred for myself that I would get sick if I saw what I looked like. When I put makeup on in theatre I would take my time, covering every single flaw I could and then making sure that I looked better than I did before, and when the night was over I would go home and shower to wash it all off before I did it all again the next day.
For years, I was so disgusted with myself. I hated my freckles and how they would be so dark in the summer; I hated my hair and the curls that I was born with; I hated my body and all the fat that I had. As a freshman in high school, I could tell you ten things I hate about myself off the top of my head and if you asked me to give you one thing that I loved about myself, I would take the entire day. During my sophomore year I started to cut myself, making lines on my body because I couldn't be beautiful like the other girls in my school and I couldn't get a guy to look my way. I hated my laugh, my smile, my voice; I didn't want anything to do with myself.
I was about 15 or 16 years old when I was told to love myself for the first time.
Hearing those words kind of shocked me. Love myself? What does that mean? How do you learn to love the disgusting creature that is yourself?
Those questions were answered over these last few years, but the journey to those answers was hard.
I have cried more tears than I could possibly imagine, let go of more hurt and resentment and anger than I could have ever fathomed. I broke from the endless cycle of anger and replaced it with positive things. My journey has been full of breaks from cutting, then small relapses and starting the cycle over again and over again. I accepted prayer and healing and managed to go from laying on my back to standing on my feet and learning to walk again.
Now, I'm 19 years old and at the end of this August I'll be clean from cutting for a year. I'm not at the end of this journey; I still have a long road ahead of me. But I've learned over the years that this is worth the pain and hurt that I've gone through. Learning to love myself for who I am and where I'm at is worth it.
If you're reading this and you struggle with everything I described, please know that you are your own worst critic. Listen to what your friends say about you, and most of all, listen to what God says about you. You are loved, you are cared for; the world is a better place with you in it. Loving yourself is going to be one of the hardest things you will ever do, but it's worth it. It's messy, it's bumpy, and it's tough. But if there's anybody who can make it through the adventure, it's you.