Many of the people I follow on social media have been posting about how 2018 is going to be the year of self-love. And it’s got me thinking… thinking about self-love… and what it truly means to love yourself. Every single aspect of yourself. Accepting yourself for 100% who you are; the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Society teaches us the opposite. We are constantly being show images of skinny, beautiful models, people who are actually doing something amazing or impactful with their lives, we need to have a lot of money in order to be considered successful, and a million other things that make us feel bad about ourselves.
Part of this is a negative result of social media being such a prevalent part of our daily lives. We are constantly checking Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to see what our friends are up to and what we are possibly missing out on. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is something I struggle with a lot because I am an includer, a giver, and a lover. I like to make everyone feel included and loved. I will give 100% of myself to someone else because that’s just how I am. When I love someone, I love hard. Whether it’s my friends, my family, or my significant other. I will give and give and give until I have nothing left, just in hopes that person will do same for me.
I was raised in a Christian home and went/go to church regularly. We are so often taught to love others the way Christ loves us..to show other’s God’s grace for their imperfections and their mistakes… but what about loving ourselves the way Christ loves us? What about giving ourselves grace for not being perfect all of the time? God loves every single part of me. Every. Single. Part. So why can’t I?
Anybody who knows me knows that I am a perfectionist. I always have been. I always to strive to be the best I can be, thinking every decision through and trying to figure out all of the possible conclusions of my actions before I do something to ensure that I make the best choice possible. I work very hard to get good grades, work, be involved on my campus, be able to spend some time with my friends and family outside of school/work, get enough sleep, and make sure I’m still taking care of the daily chores and other things that need to get done at home. Failure is not really an option for me. Nothing drives me more crazy than knowing I cannot do something or I wasn’t good enough.
I also am a people-pleaser and will do whatever it takes to avoid a conflict with somebody, even if that means taking on yet another task because I struggle with saying the word ‘no.’ I am a relatively busy person (not near as busy as I used to be, but that is because I have gotten better about saying ‘no’ to some people.) But yet, every time I do tell somebody ‘no, sorry I can’t. I am too busy.’ or ‘sorry, I can’t because I have a lot of other things to do and I don’t think I will be able to finish this in time.’ I feel awful. I feel so bad because I worry it is going to make that other person mad or upset with me. I hate not feeling like I am good enough, including not having enough time or energy, to help somebody else out.
It is so easy to focus on the negatives. Boy oh boy, is it so easy to focus on the negatives.
“I’m not skinny enough.”
“I’m not pretty enough.”
“I wish my eyes were more blue.”
“I’m not good enough.”
“I cry way too easily and way too often. I’m too emotional.”
“I have no money. Obviously I don’t work enough and I spend too much money on dumb things.”
Ryan and I have been going to pre-marital counseling with the pastor that is going to marry us in October (Pastor Brian). Before we started our counseling, we had to take a test to see how compatible we were on different categories and then our first session was to go over that test and see how we scored. One of the areas that was discussed was about our personalities. According to the test, I have low self-confidence, I am not aggressive, and I avoid my problems and confrontation. None of this is brand new information to me.
However, there is something about having somebody else tell you your flaws and your imperfections that makes it hit harder than before. It’s hard to hear somebody else tell you that you have low self-confidence… and in a way, it felt like it lowered that self-confidence even more. Now, I know that Pastor Brian did not mean for that to happen at all and he was simply telling us the results of the test. But it still stung, it still hurt, it still bothered the heck out of me.
Why is it so hard to love myself? Why am I so hard on myself all of the time? Pastor Brian says I have to let Ryan marry me for me. And that I need to let him love 100% of me but how can I do that if I don’t love 100% of me?
So. I have decided that I am going to entertain this idea of “self-love”. It is important for me to love myself before Ryan and I get married, so that I can love him to the best of my ability once we officially tie the knot because I won’t be trying to focus on loving myself more and loving him as much as possible, all at the same time.
I already have begun to do certain things because I know I need to start putting myself first in order to maintain a healthy mind. Like I said earlier, I will give and give and give to other people until I have nothing else to give. And that was starting to take a major toll on my health – physically, mentally, and emotionally. So, I decided it was time for a change. I was tired of being upset all of the time. I decided it’s time to put myself first. (Or at least try).
It is okay to say no to going out with friends to have a relaxing night at home instead. It is okay to leave people behind when all they do is drain you. It is okay to put yourself first. It is okay to tell somebody ‘no’ when they ask you to do something because you are already busy enough as it is.It is okay to spend some money on doing something you enjoy or something that brings you happiness. It is okay to pat yourself on the back for getting out of bed, and for putting jeans on instead of sweatpants. It’s okay to be ‘basic’ and take a Boomerang in the freshly fallen snow so you can post it to your Instagram story, just like everybody else has been doing all day. It is okay to cry. It is okay to be you. It is okay.
I have been wedding dress “shopping” three different times now, and let me tell you, that takes a toll on you and your self-esteem/self-confidence. I understand that they make sample dresses in a certain size so they can send the bridal stores one of each style of dress, and then the employees at these shops are in charge of helping you and clipping into dresses whether they’re too small or too big. And then once you decide on the dress, they measure you so that the dress can be ordered and made in your size. But not being able to fit into a dress (even though it’s not your size but for some reason you’re expecting to fit you perfectly) really brings your confidence down. Everybody says that when you find the one, you will feel beautiful and like a princess… but I find it hard to feel that way when all I can think is “I’m too fat. I need to workout more and eat less/healthier. I need to lose weight.”
I’ve been so focused on my looks and my weight recently. I’ve been eating less, going to the gym, and yet I feel like it’s not doing anything and I am getting frustrated because I am not seeing immediate progress. I know I need to be patient with myself and that it takes longer for girls than guys to show progress and that it takes more than just going to the gym one time to lose weight. But patience has never been my strong suit.
So, I’ve decided that I’m going to keep working on it. I’m going to keep going to the gym and working out, I’m going to continue to eat less/healthier, I’m going to continue learning to be patient with myself, I’m going to continue to try to focus on loving myself and doing what is best for me. Self-love is important. Cherishing yourself for everything that you are is so important.
I have become a “bullet journal-er”. A bullet journal is a journal lined with bullets instead of lines and is used to create essentially whatever you want. Most people use them for daily planners and other things of the sort, but they can also be used to track different aspects of your daily life such as: savings, weight-loss, habits, sleep, water intake, money spending, mood, movies you want to watch, books you want to read, birthdays, etc. The list goes on and on and on and the possibilities are endless.
I have started a habit tracker in attempt to help myself get into some healthier habits. On my habit tracker are things like ‘exercise’ and ‘got 8 hours or more of sleep’ and ‘devotions’ and ‘had some me time’. And I’m not going to lie to you, I do not look at my bullet journal every day. I wish I did, but the matter of the fact is that I don’t. But when I do…I see that list of things I want to accomplish every day and it motivates me to try to do as many of them as possible because I want to fill in the little squares and show myself that it is possible to do all of those things, along with everything else I do every single day.
For Christmas, I received a book about waiting on God’s timing called “Wait & See”. I am going to be honest with you, I am not one who does a devotional every morning. I would like to…but I just never seem to “have the time”, or rather the self-discipline to give myself the time to sit down and spend time with God, whether that means I need to get up a little earlier in the morning or stay up a little later at night. This is something I would like to get better about doing, and so this morning I sat down and I read a chapter of “Wait & See” and did a lot of thinking and praying.
The chapter was entitled “When Waiting Means Working Out” (hmmm..that’s funny, I was just talking about how I’ve been trying to workout more lately….God has a good way doing that. Putting the things we need to hear most and are most relevant to us right in that moment so that He can really speak to us. It’s not a coincidence.)
Anywho, the main story of the chapter was about David and how David had been appointed king at the age of 10-years-old. David had not wanted to be king, yet he was chosen become the next king. But David was not ready yet. So he waited and did the things he needed to do in order to become ready to take the throne. The same is similar for us, we cannot rush God. “We have to stay in our pasture, doing what we know to do even if what we are doing isn’t exciting or doesn’t seem to be effective.”
“And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” -Romans 5:2-5
So, I will keep going to the gym. I will keep eating healthier/less. I will keep reminding myself that the number on the scale doesn’t matter, I am beautiful in my own way. I will keep trying to put myself and my happiness first, because for a while there, it seemed like I had forgotten what it was like to feel happy or to do what made me happy because I was trying so hard to make sure everybody else was happy first. I will continue to try to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. I will do all of this because I love myself. I will do all of this because I am trying to get better about loving myself and putting myself first. Because perseverance produces character, and character produces hope.
Don’t forget to love yourself, because it is important.