In the last few months, I’ve felt a real shift in how I think and feel about a lot. I decided to quit my job and very tentatively take the first steps towards starting my own business and my partner and I have made some grown up but ridiculously exciting decisions about things to come. If I’m honest, I don’t know if these things were a catalyst for the shift in my thinking or whether it’s something that has come naturally with getting older. In any case, the cause doesn’t matter but what it brings to my life is what’s important.
One of the things it has brought to my attention is how unkind I am to myself on a daily basis. For as long as I can remember I have been filled with such potent self-loathing, I couldn’t hand on heart name one thing I truly liked about myself or thought I was good at. It dawned on me that most, if not all of this hatred for myself stemmed from my constant assessment of myself and my life in comparison to everyone else around me. Friends, family, work colleagues, and even strangers I follow on social media. My own success and self-worth have always been relative to those I choose to measure myself against and I’ve realised I measure myself against everyone. Truth be told I’m exhausted from it all and it’s finally worn me down. I’m tired of working towards expectations set by other people or never thinking my best is good enough. I’m tired of smiling and nodding along because I don’t think what I have to say is worthy. I’m tired of trying to be friends with people who only use our friendship as a platform to validate their own triumphs without any interest in my own.
Enough is enough.
Breaking the cycle of self-loathing I’ve been stuck in for most of my life won’t be easy. It starts with identifying it and then working consciously every day to tackle the bully that lives inside my head. There will be days I won’t be able to, there will be days where the bully will win but that’s all part of it I suppose. There’s a long road ahead of learning how to love myself all over again but for the moment I’m happy to just start accepting small things about myself. Things that I previously would have beaten myself up about for days on end. When I can safely say I have accepted some of the smaller more trivial things I’ll feel brave enough to confront the bigger, scarier ones. So here are 6 small things I’m going to start accepting about myself and my life today:
One – I hate exercise. Detest it. I don’t like running, I will never be patient enough to be a super bendy yogi and if I’m ever reliant on upper body strength to save my life, I will die. However, I do love cake and pizza and to prevent myself from resembling a deflating beach ball I do have to exercise. I’m not happy about it. But I will go running three times a week if it means I can have Dominos and almond croissants on a regular basis.
Two – I’m not a morning person and I will whine like a petulant child if anyone tries to get me up before I’m ready. I am now lucky enough to work from home and don’t necessarily have to get up at the crack of dawn, so instead, I’m going to find my own rhythm and set my own work hours. Thank you, Briony for this nugget of wisdom.
Three – I have big thighs. I probably could make them smaller with vast amounts of exercise, but I won’t (see No. 1). Therefore my solution is to just accept it and buy the jeans/trousers that fit well in every colour they’re made in three times over.
Four – I am more comfortable in big boots and jumpers than pretty dresses and heels. When I was a teenager I used to go to the local ‘club’ (read room with flashy lights and a sticky floor) in boyfriend jeans and converse and although everyone thought I was my best friend’s girlfriend – I was comfortable. That seemed to change when I became a ‘grown-up’. Being sexy isn’t about how much flesh I’m flashing (very little) but how confident I am in my boots and jumper.
Five – I haven’t found my passion yet. Apart from eating cake and making friends with every dog I see I haven’t found the thing that makes me tick. The thing I want to spend the rest of my life doing. The thing I want to get up for every morning (…begrudgingly want to get up for – see No. 2). I’m a pup in the grand scheme of things and I don’t have to have it figured out yet. Maybe it’ll fall into my lap one day, maybe I’ll never figure it out, maybe I’ll keep changing my mind. Either way, I’m going to start enjoying the bits in between.
Six – My skin isn’t perfect. I’ve suffered from bad skin for years and have applied every cream and swallowed every pill given to me to make it better. If I’m honest antibiotics work really well for me and I would continue to take them if I could, but you’re not supposed to if you’re trying to make a mini human. If that’s not the best reason in the world to have bad skin I don’t know what is?
Like I said, learning to love myself and everything about my life isn’t going to be a click of the fingers change. It’s going to take time and I’ll fight it every day. I’ll sulk, kick and scream and cling to the safety of not liking myself. Because there is safety in that, it takes a lot of courage and strength to stand up and say ‘I love myself”*.
There’s so much more than those 6 small things above but they’re a good start I think.
*I’m not advocating narcissism though – love yourself, accept yourself, just don’t be a dick about it 🙂