So, I’m participating in the Kindness Challenge from The Richness of a Simple Life… and this week’s topic is self love.
Stretch marks. Scars. Moles. Fat.
Do any of these words make you want to curl up in the fetal position? Or how about…
Failure. Stupidity. Loss. Inadequacy.
How about these?
You are not perfect. There, I said it. Maybe you think that pretty girl who has boys falling all over her like moths at a lightbulb is perfect, but would you know if she thinks she’s not enough because her grades are falling more than the boys? Or is it the guy who takes home all the academic accolades that you think is perfect? You wouldn’t know if he hates looking in the mirror, even when hes wearing all of his medals as decorations.
I’ve never liked the way I look. Sometimes, I would wake up and look at the mirror and think hey, that’s a decent specimen right there, but that would last no longer than five minutes. I would dress up for parties with the eagerness of a child going to Disney World for the first time (although I’ve never been there, so I can’t imagine THAT level of excitement) and more often than not I would end up in a sour mood just before leaving the house because to me all of that effort was in vain – I was still the same unattractive person.
I’ve never been able to speak to strangers or sometimes even to friends. I avoid calling friends’ on their landlines in case their mums would pick up and I would have to speak with them. To me, that is scary. If I’m out with others, I will never order food but I’ll beg the other person to do it. I beg my mum to order me pizza on the phone and if she refuses… Well, guess it’s gotta be a pizzaless life then.
Sure, on the outside, I’d get all the academic achievements and praises from teachers and whatnot, but I can’t take criticism. The lack of self-esteem keeps crushing me from the inside. I’m still too insecure to share a picture from those days here.
So what did I do?
I cut my waist length hair to a short, choppy style.
I lost 15 kg in the span of a little more than an year.
I thought if I could change my image of myself, I could change my thinking as well. Or maybe, I thought if I can’t be pretty, I can at least be thin. People who haven’t seen me in a couple years don’t even recognise me when I meet them. But me?
I’m still the same person with the same mindset.
I still hate my pictures. I hate my stretch marks. I hate the way my skin is loose on certain parts of my body because of the weight loss, but you know what?
I’m going to change again. This time, it’s changing my mind.
A couple months ago, I started taking random selfies and sharing them with a few of my friends. It’s hard to believe when they compliment me, but the “fake it till you make it” technique is not bull. I say thanks, I compliment them back, and slowly, slowly, I’m starting to see some kind of beauty in myself. When I look in the mirror, I try to focus on what looks good instead of what looks disgusting to me. It’s difficult, even harrowing at times, but slowly, ever so slowly, it starts to work.
I’ve opened myself up to criticism by starting this blog, so instead of thinking about it for days I start to learn from it. Instead of hiding my writing, I can start to improve it. Instead of being weak, I can start to make myself stronger. I’ve had friends who have pushed me into speaking on stage and even speaking to strangers, who have told me my eyes are pretty and my stretch marks are art, and after a couple of years it’s finally starting to work. They know who they are, and I couldn’t be more thankful to them.
So here’s the deal: Take it slow. Take it very, very slow. Do you hate your eyes? Start to focus on them every day. Try to find something striking about them. Every single day, without fail. It will work. Get a friend, parent, anyone, who points out the good things in you, and learn to accept them.
Have you failed at achieving something? Maybe got a low grade on an exam? It’s crushing, I know, but try again!
Failed twice? Try again!
Failed thrice? Try again!
I’m not saying stay as you are. Part of learning to appreciate yourself is to improve yourself as well. I’m trying to improve my writing, my people skills. Endeavour to eat healthy if you need to lose weight, determine to study hard if you need to pass an exam, but you can only improve in things once you start to believe you can, and that belief is the little start you need to love yourself!
I think the best way to say this is that you, yes you, you are a rainbow, and so am I. You won’t always shine, you won’t always be visible to everyone, but even through the rain you of difficulties you can manage to shine through. It won’t happen every time, but trust me, sometimes it will. Not everyone will be able to see you, but you impact those who will.
And it is those times that matter.
Nobody hates the rainbow. So let all your colours shine through, admire yourself. Love yourself, and maybe you’ll be able to see the rainbow in others too.