A few years ago, there was a little girl. She was about 11 and had just started sixth grade. She was raised in a family of boys, so she usually wore t-shirts and shorts with sneakers to school. She made a friend who told her that she was grown up now and that she should dress more ladylike. So she did.
When she was 12, her friends told her that the boy she liked wasn't cute enough, so she never talked to him.
She lived her whole life like this, and by the time she was 16, she had long blonde hair, wore dresses every day, and listened to whatever pop music was on the radio that day. Then, one day, she realized she was sick of everyone else telling her how to be. She decided to try being herself.
If you haven't already guessed, this little girl is me, and the lesson I learned when I was 16 changed my entire life. I remember the first time I tried doing something different. I came to school dressed down with a band t-shirt and leggings. My friends were shocked, but they didn't judge. They thought I looked good in anything. After that, I started branching out more. I did things because I enjoyed them, not because someone else told me to do so. I dyed my hair red like I'd always wanted to, and for the first time in my life, I started to feel confident in myself. I didn't care what other people had to say about me because I knew that I was awesome just the way I was.
Now I'm in college and still living that philosophy every day. I still get criticism and people telling me what I should and shouldn't do, but strange enough, it just inspires me to keep being myself and doing what I'm doing. If people really want to go out of their way to be mean, then I can go out of my way to prove them wrong.
No matter where you are in your self-love journey, it's important to remember that we are all created differently, and there will never be another person just like you in the entire history of humanity. So be yourself. Don't do anything unless you want to. Live life with passion. When you start to love yourself for what you are, the rest of the world does too. Trust me.