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I’ve been on a self-love journey for the last 13 years, and for the first 11 I didn’t realize it had a name. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon a few articles online that I learned others were on similar journeys too. Honestly, knowing others were in a similar boat to me was a huge relief; I thought I was the only one struggling to love myself.
It was about 13 years ago and I was 21 at the time when I made a comment about myself to a friend about how I didn’t like something about myself and her reply was ‘why not?’. I couldn’t really answer it at the time but it stuck with me. I recall driving home asking myself that same question, and I was in tears with the realization that my internal narrative towards myself was mostly negative.
I didn’t truly love or really even like myself at that time. Factors played into that: I had just graduated college and was struggling to find a ‘real job’, and had gotten out of a relationship where my partner kind of fed into this negative self-talk. I had issues with the way I looked, I thought I wasn’t worthy of good things (like a job that paid more than minimum wage or a partner who valued me) and I knew on that car ride home that something needed to change. I had to be kinder to myself.
I spent the first decade of this journey just trying to not jump to the “you look awful” or the “you’re so dumb for that reaction/comment”talk in my head Instead, I tried to find something nicer I liked about myself and forced myself to focus on that, while figuring out why I always went negative. There was a lot of confronting that type of negativity, crying and figuring out why I felt this way about myself. Therapy helped a lot, not only with my own view of myself. It also helped me confront some of the ways I saw other people, which in turn allowed me to move out of my head. Turns out- I have an anxiety disorder. In hindsight, this makes a lot of sense.
This process wasn’t easy; and most importantly- it’s not over for me. There’s been a lot of press lately about the self-love journey and from where I’m standing now there’s really not one great formula to this ride. For me, confronting the emotion behind what I was feeling and breaking the negative cycles was the biggest part. I’ve always been an emotionally-charged person and that often got the best of me. I stopped fighting the tears and slowly but surely I cry less and laugh more. No one’s out to get me. Hell, no one really thinks about me as much as I worried they did, instead everyone is out for themselves and I should be too.
My advice to someone struggling and starting this journey is to be kinder to yourself - from the way you talk to yourself and just treat yourself. Sometimes you need a day to rest and recover. This doesn’t mean you’re lazy, it means you need a recharge. Trust your gut. If something feels off, it probably needs a little more reflection. Figure out why you’re afraid in certain situations. Embrace the tears. If you feel uncomfortable around someone for any reason, it’s ok to see them less. Your peace is a priority. A partner who’s supportive and treats you well goes a long way. You are more than your looks. Your body does a lot for you: nurtures you, carries you with strength throughout the day so sizes and numbers on the scale are truly meaningless.
Lastly- the journey starts when YOU decide it does. Jump on in.
--Sarah, Nurse Practitioner
This article provides information about sexual health, healthcare and/or related subjects. The blog content and any linked materials herein are not intended to be, and should not be construed as a substitute for, medical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. Any reader or person with a medical concern should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other healthcare provider. This blog is provided purely for informational purposes. The views expressed herein are not sponsored by and do not represent the opinions of TBD Health Inc.