Rather than an egotistical, self-centered, narcissistic mindset, self-love is the desired regard for one’s own well-being and happiness. Through my journey of both setting and achieving some of my fitness and academic goals, as well as developing from an adolescent to a soon-to-be 21-year old feeling confident in my own skin has become vitally important.
(Although I will be touching on the realm of self-love for females, it is equally important for males and they face many of the same challenges)
Over my (short) lifespan, I have grown to grasp the importance of feeling comfortable in my own skin, at whatever height, weight, skin or hair color I might have. I am a strong believer that there is not one, two or three ideal body types and that society has far too strong of a push in one direction or another. From a young age girls are faced with media swarming them with images of tall, skinny girls that have been photoshopped to perfection.
As a result, girls begin to feel insecure and uncertain about themselves. With confidence, I am convinced that girls should be proud of their bodies and their appearance and the personal comparison with others is the most detrimental thing that one could do. There is no definition or formula for beauty and each and every one of us is beautiful in our own unique way.
As you have probably once heard, “it’s not about the destination, its about the journey to get there”. Through the acne-prone years, where you may be trying out your moms makeup for the first time, attending school dances and just becoming comfortable with the opposite sex, there will always be ups and downs in confidence and success. It is during this time that it becomes crucial that we not only support these young girls but also remind them that they are beautiful and strong at every stage in their life.
Unfortunately, these challenges do not stop here. Self-love is important through all ages and stages of life, for instance, as girls go to college, experience a break up or rejection from a potential job. Through all of this, I have found that it is important to find something for YOU. By that, I mean something that through the thick and thin, the good and the bad you will be able to resort to that one thing and feel confident and happy with yourself.
Personally, I have always found this state of peace and happiness in the gym. Through bad test grades in school to changing friend groups, the gym is always there for me. Not only do I feel strong and confident about myself but the gym also allows me to spend time with my thoughts. I am able to test my limits, compete against myself and learn to care for my body with rest and rehabilitation. I love to workout because I love my body, not because I hate it. I hope that I will always be able to find this state of contentment in the gym as I face an infinite number of challenges in my future. While that is just one example, there could be any number of things that one could resort to in a time of either sadness or happiness, alike.
Regardless, I not only see a need for our society and especially the media to adjust their focus but it is also important for each of us to help build each other up. Fortunately and unfortunately social media is a huge part of our lives. At times, it can leave a very negative impact by not only furthering the message that much of our media is trying to deliver but it can also lead to the potential dangers of cyber bullying and more. BUT, luckily, it can also gives us a much more accessible means of supporting friends or even a stranger that is in need of someone to talk to. Sometimes, a quick compliment or a thoughtful quote can completely turn somebody’s day around and through social media we can access a much larger group of people.
With all that being said, be YOUR strongest supporter. Embrace the things that make you different and special. In an essence, fake it until you are it. If you can wake up every morning, look in the mirror and tell yourself one positive statement, you will begin to believe it and make it a reality.
Social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, presented a TED talk on how your body language can truly shape who you are. By standing in a posture of confidence, as she calls it, even when we don’t feel confident can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in our brain which can in turn have an impact on our success.
It doesn’t just stop here… throughout your day, compliment yourself for a positive stepping stone rather than dwelling on a negative. Help a friend, a sister, a stranger to feel better about themselves and to celebrate the positives in this world! With that, love yourself and find something that is unique to you, something that makes you happy and at peace with yourself! Most importantly, love yourself through all stages because it is more about the journey than the destination!