I struggled to write this letter because of the emotions that I felt while I was writing it; I felt happy, sad, relieved, angry, empowered and vulnerable. I write this as an open letter to anyone struggling with self-love, but in a way, I was also talking to myself. I was reassuring myself in the values that I believe for other women and admittedly, it feels great to write something that can help others and yourself at the same time.

First, let me tell you that you are not alone; approximately 91 percent of women in the world struggle with a positive self-image. Of course, not many women can outright admit that she is unhappy with herself. It can make you feel vulnerable and too open; and honestly, that’s why it is so important to talk about it.

There will be days that you look in the mirror and feel like a weed in the garden. And that’s OK. However, there are also going to be other days that you will stand taller than a sunflower, feeling like the prettiest rose. And that’s OK too. An important thing to realize is that you are allowed to feel emotions toward yourself. You are not forced to only see positives. You are not forced to become emotionless. Emotions can motivate, empower and excite you into new adventures if you let them. Emotions can also remind you that you are human.

However, self-love doesn’t just come from someone else telling you that “you need to love yourself more” or “you’re so pretty.” Self-love doesn’t come from the affection and attention of another person. Self-love doesn’t come from drugs or alcohol.

Self-love comes from when you learn to accept the positives within yourself and when you allow yourself to listen to the negatives as well.

You may never fully love every inch of your body, every aspect of your personality, or every decision that you’ve ever made. And again, that’s OK too.

You should never suppress your self-love; embrace the days that you feel like a gorgeous rose and work through the days that you feel like a weed.

Self-love isn’t blind acceptance, it is growing and transforming while nourishing and supporting the temple you have within yourself. You may decide that you are unhappy with an aspect of yourself, physically, mentally, or emotionally. And that’s OK. As a human being, we are always changing and transforming. As long as you are treating yourself properly and showing yourself love, nothing is wrong with change.

Celebrate the small victories! Any form of progress is indeed progress. You may have started going to the gym, or taking public speaking classes, or learning to play the violin. Celebrate your first mile on the treadmill. Celebrate your first self-introduction to the class. Celebrate learning your first note successfully.

Become mindful. I know for girls struggling with self-love this can be hard. Stay true to what you believe. Follow your thoughts, goals and future. Believe in yourself and your ability to decide what is best for yourself. You are the only person who fully knows what morals, values and beliefs you’ll have and you need to be able to defend them: sometimes to yourself and sometimes to others.

Self-love cannot come without self-care. I could write this two million times because honestly, this is the most important aspect of self-love. You need to nourish your mind, body and spirit to be able to love yourself fully. Did you drink any water today? Did you shower today? Did you eat today? Did you sleep today? How about getting out of bed and walking around a bit? Self-care is crucial to self-love and I cannot stress it enough.

Live with intentions. You may not know exactly what career you want to do for the rest of your life. You may not know exactly who you want to marry, where you want to live, how many kids you want. You may not even know what you want to wear. Again, that’s OK. Strive to live every day with purpose and you will find it easier to love yourself. Set intentions and goals for yourself every day. If your intention is to inspire others, make decisions that support that goal. If you believe your purpose is to raise awareness for animals, make decisions that will support that goal. It doesn’t matter how small or large your intentions are; setting them, and following through, is enough to create happiness inside of you.

Lastly, forgive yourself. Forgive yourself, without regrets, during the good and the bad times. Accept that you are a human and that humans can make mistakes. You cannot view these mistakes as setbacks or failures; you need to view them as life lessons and learn from them. You can forgive yourself as a rose, you can forgive yourself as a weed.

I know that self-love can be hard sometimes; keep your head up and stand tall. Realize that it is okay to be yourself fully. Remember that any change in the world takes time and there is beauty in the time spent. Develop your intentions and purpose and live your life to the fullest.

Oh, and please remember, “A flower does not compete with another flower. It just blooms” and you will too.