Learning How to Love Myself

I’ve struggled with my health for as long as I can remember, but more specifically since around the age of 7-8. I was an active kid; I had my own tennis coach, swam every day, and was constantly running around under the sunny skies of Mexico. My mom noticed that I started gaining weight and couldn’t understand why. It took years of my mom fighting to find answers, being told my doctors that there was nothing wrong with me. She never gave up, and when I was 14 we finally got in to see Doctor Hamilton at Sick Kids in Toronto. After some testing I was told that I had PCOS, which was very rare to find in someone so young since it doesn’t usually start in someone until at least their late teens.

I was told many things about my health, and for years I used that as an excuse to self sabotage, and to really not try. It affected me the most mentally— I gave up before I even tried. I felt like I’d been trying so hard already before I even knew what was wrong, but after the diagnosis I became my own worst enemy and counted myself out. Out of what? Everything. I stopped exercising, I ate whatever I wanted (usually junk food), and I even started up smoking. When I look back at all of this, I realize it was a desperate cry for help, but even when people tried to help I wouldn’t let them and it was because I didn’t like myself and I hated my body. I felt betrayed and helpless.

In my teen years I secretly felt outcasted by my own friends through no fault of their own. When boys came into the picture it got worse— I was that girl who was always the friend and nothing more. It reaffirmed my own thoughts of being unwanted, and undesired. I was withdrawn, quiet, and scared of everything. I developed some serious social anxiety and depression on top of that, especially after each time I tried a new routine to lose weight only to have it backfire and gain more. I was starving myself and exhausted because of it— I wanted so badly to fit in and be normal and because I didn’t, I stopped myself from doing so many things I regret not doing now.

I know now that it was irrational to be so insecure about these things, but when you’re young everything feels like the end of the world. The small things are so much bigger than they are, and the bad things feel like a tidal wave crashing down on your life. Needless to say, I kept spiralling down the rabbit hole further and further until I could no longer see the light at the top. I lived like this for many years, and honestly sometimes I still have my days where I struggle with it because healing isn’t linear.

Today I can say that through a lot of work on myself, I do actually like who I am. I enjoy my own company, and I think I’m funnier than maybe I actually am. I’m no longer scared, and I’m not shy anymore. My friends that knew me then that still know me now say I’m a different, vastly more confident person than I was back then. It was, in the end, a lot of time I wasted not going after the things I wanted. So I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to feel those bad feelings, but don’t let them drag you down. Don’t let the darkness consume your light. There is so much you have to offer the world and it’s never too late to start. I know now that I am more than enough, and so are you.

Here are a few things I do or tell myself when I’m feeling a little blue, insecure, or anxious, and need to remind myself how to love myself:

  1. Y O U are enough just as you are. I tell myself this whenever I feel that social anxiety creeping up on me, like a mantra. When those ‘no one likes you’ thoughts feel like they have the power to overwhelm me.

  2. Read my bible, or listen to worship music. Of course this is a very personal one that works for me. You can opt for reading a good book, listening to your favourite song, or a funny podcast. It’s about finding things that help you relax.

  3. D A N C E I T O U T! This one is a big one, especially during lockdown. A lot of us are left without thoughts a lot more these days. I’m an over-thinker and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it can turn your fast thoughts into dark ones pretty quickly. I’m actually able to bust a little move even in a crowd of people now— it’s helped me build my confidence.

  4. Talk to a friend. Call up a good friend and talk about literally anything. Talking to someone you care about boosts your serotonin and will help you feel happier and a little more grounded.

  5. Seek out counselling. Whether you think you need it or not, it’s been something that has helped me a lot over the years. I’m not a ‘regular’ but it’s definitely helped me realign my thoughts, emotions, and curved my need for self sabotage.

  6. Create something. Spending time alone and creating something is so helpful. It’ll boost your mood and help you feel inspired. Whenever I feel stuck in my life, if I spend an hour writing, painting, drawing, singing, etc, I always feel so much better after. It helps realign my focus and clear my cluttered thoughts.

  7. Go for a walk. That’s it. Just walk. I don’t even listen to music most of the time. Actually allowing my brain to quiet and reset with fresh air is the best medicine. After a good walk around the block, or a hike with my dog, I come home and am filled up with happiness.

All of these helps make me feel filled up with joy, and help me remind myself that we are not meant to blend in and be like everyone else. This is how I love myself.

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