Time To Take Care Of Me.

Selfish Or Self-Care?

"Without your own health, your own happiness, and your own stability, you have nothing."

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I feel like the past three years of my life have been filled with highs and lows. The landscape didn't seem to include many stable plantains, but instead jagged spurts of vertical mountains and dangerously low valleys. The last three years have knocked me down, hard. They have made me second guess my decisions and reconsider my dreams, but mostly, they have taught me things that will change my life for the better.

I have learned that time is the most valuable thing we own and therefore being present is the best way to have satisfaction. Shortly after I reprioritized the importance of money to instead be on people and experiences. I saw that being rich doesn't fix things. I realized that hyper-focusing on the external only abandons the internal - and that appearance fades. Nurturing the soul is most important. I learned that life is too short for "I wish" or "I should have." And, I have discovered that without your own health, happiness, and stability, you have nothing.

I learned that it's okay to look inside. That there is a distinct difference between being "selfish" and prioritizing "selfcare". The two can be intertwined, confusing and capable of stirring up a whole lot of trouble, but identifying between them is a necessary battle to achieve self-empowerment and discovery. If you're like me and pleasing others seems to run in your blood - second nature, done without hesitation, sometimes to a fault - it is crucial. Especially, when taking care of others leads to hurting yourself.

I don't think I knew how much this habit had affected me until it had done its fair share of damage. I had given up my own interests, prioritized the desires of those around me, and lost sight of the future I wanted in pursuit of "not rocking the boat." I had had too many crashes and I wasn't going to be responsible for another. And so, I became a sponge of information and others dreams, absorbing the lives I saw and slowly squeezing out the one I owned. I was petrified of being selfish and because of it, took things too far.

Come college, the drift was amplified. I saw my tendency lead to neglect and not knowing who I was, grabbed anything I could. I wanted people to like me, I hated conflict, I was desperate to be "happy" and I looked for the easy way out. Yet still, I got tired of my people pleasing self and I chose instead to numb the issue at hand. I used to be a follower unfulfilled, I didn't know another way.

It was only a matter of time. I needed to learn how to lead myself and taking charge wasn't going to be easy, but it had to happen.

Through the process I found myself admitting to a lot of self-destruction. I had the power to do things differently, but I either didn't see it or didn't do it. Coming to terms with my passive personality allowed me to go about things in a new way.

Living your life for others, dimming your light for fear of rejection or hiding "you" to make someone else "happier" won't get you very far. And sure, there is a level of respect that any good friend should possess, but also a fine line between compassion for others and ignoring personal content. Acknowledging what I deserved changed my life - I know it can change other people's, too.

Typically the fear of disappointment and lack of acceptance affects decision making. It becomes such a powerful, learned instinct that forces a gap between someone and their inner peace. I lost touch with who I was and once I understood, saw that I forgot, I was desperate to remember. From this point on it became a process of reintroduction and for that, I can not be more grateful.

I began to learn again, exactly who I hoped to be. I saw the things that brought me raw joy and the things I could live without. I figured out what made me mad and how to handle it. I got sad, really sad, but it showed me the people that I love, and that they too can hurt me. Most of all, I was able to appropriately take care of myself. Reiterating that my self-respect will no longer be ignored in fear of "selfishness." If others occupy my attention, I deserve it too.

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PSA: Keep Your Body-Negative Opinions Away From Little Girls This Summer

But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with.

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It's officially swimsuit season, y'all.

The temperature is rising, the sun is bright and shining, and a trip to the beach couldn't look more appealing than it does right now. This is the time of year that many of us have been rather impatiently waiting for. It's also the time of year that a lot of us feel our most self-conscious.

I could take the time to remind you that every body is a bikini body. I could type out how everyone is stunning in their own unique way and that no one should feel the need to conform to a certain standard of beauty to feel beautiful, male or female. I could sit here and tell you that the measurement of your waistline is not a reflection of your worth. I completely believe every single one of these things.

Hell, I've shared these exact thoughts more times than I can count. This time around, however, I'm not going to say all these things. Instead, I'm begging you to push your insecurities to the side and fake some confidence in yourself when you're in front of others.

Why?

Because our negative self-image is toxic and contagious and we're spreading this negative thinking on to others.

We're all guilty of this, we're with family or a friend and we make a nasty comment about some aspect of our appearance, not even giving a single thought to the impact our words have on the person with us. You might think that it shouldn't bother them- after all, we're not saying anything bad about them! We're just expressing our feelings about something we dislike about ourselves. While I agree that having conversations about our insecurities and feelings are important for our mental and emotional health, there is a proper and improper way of doing it. An open conversation can leave room for growth, acceptance, understanding, and healing. Making a rude or disheartening remark about yourself is destructive not only to yourself, but it will make the person you are saying these things around question their own self worth or body image by comparing themselves to you.

My little sister thinks she's "fat." She doesn't like how she looks. To use her own words, she thinks she's "too chubby" and that she "looks bad in everything."

She's 12 years old.

Do you want to know why she has this mindset? As her older sister, I failed in leading her by example. There were plenty of times when I was slightly younger, less sure of myself, and far more self-conscious than I am now, that I would look in the mirror and say that I looked too chubby, that my body didn't look good enough, that I wished I could change the size of my legs or stomach.

My little sister had to see the older sibling she looks up to, the big sis she thinks always looks beautiful, say awful and untrue things about herself because her own sense of body image was warped by media, puberty, and comparing herself to others.

My negativity rubbed off onto her and shaped how she looks at herself. I can just imagine her watching me fret over how I look thinking, "If she thinks she's too big, what does that make me?"

It makes me feel sick.

All of us are dealing with our own insecurities. It takes some of us longer than others to view ourselves in a positive, loving light. We're all working on ourselves every day, whether it be mentally, physically, or emotionally. But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with, our struggles and insecurities should not form into their own burdens.

Work on yourself in private. Speak kindly of yourself in front of others. Let your positivity, real or not, spread to others instead of the bad feelings we have a bad habit of letting loose.

The little girls of the world don't need your or my negative self-image this summer. Another kid doesn't need to feel worthless because we couldn't be a little more loving to ourselves and a lot more conscious of what we say out loud.

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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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