Learning to love yourself
What is the most significant piece of advice I would give someone about succeeding in their journey?
Accept yourself as you are right at this moment. Learn to love yourself at this moment. You won’t love yourself later if you can’t love yourself right now exactly as you are. It has taken me a long, long time to figure that one out. It’s not an easy place to get to, and I’m not that mindset every day. But it is the most significant piece of advice I can give.
It has taken me 40+ years to get there.
I didn’t love myself at all. I might have said that along the way because that’s what one is supposed to say about themselves. But there was one piece missing to make it a reality. I needed to like myself.
I come from a family that consists of brilliant people. I never felt that I could match them in that area. I was never good enough; I thought that I was the stupid one. It is important to note that no one in my family made me feel that way, quite the opposite. But no matter what, I just felt that way. I come from a world where society told me that beauty was a woman who looked like a hanger, was a teenager and was 1% of the world’s population. As a young person who would never look like that, I felt that I wasn’t worth it, seeing as I didn’t fit into that mould. The career I trained for, Opera singing, is one of the most judgemental careers. You spend a majority of the time being looked at by a panel deciding your fate, and let’s not forget those trying to get those same roles or win the competition.
What is the commonality between these things? Judgement.
We are our own worst critics. As someone who has issues with self-esteem and anxiety, it’s no wonder I chose to stuff my emotions with food. Of course, I didn’t love myself. Everything pointed to me not being worthy of much. I had these ideas of what I wasn’t, and so if I wasn’t, there was something wrong with me.
I spent a long time faking about how I felt about myself. Humour is a great way to mask those feelings of inadequacy.
So was eating; I would eat anything to make myself feel better: baked goods were always the top of the list. The good feelings from the comfort food and sugar or sodium were great for the moment, but I would crash, and those feelings would always come back.
So how did I lift myself out of that cycle? At first, I understood that eating the way I was didn’t solve my issues. I found writing would help me focus on those thoughts. I was writing for myself without judgement. As I started writing, I understood that the judgement I felt was self-perceived and unrealistic. I realized that all of those feelings were not helpful to my self-esteem.
It’s funny as I started that work, my need to eat those less than ideal foods to feel better went by the wayside. The food that I was eating was making me feel better. If I had a hard time, I went for a walk outside to smell the air and clear my head. Soon even on those days that I would feel bad, I would make different choices to lift my spirits.
I can easily say that I love myself. I do my best every day to live without judgement. That includes the judgment of others. Because you never know what someone else is going through.
It has only been in the six months that I have felt comfortable saying that I love myself, even on my worst days. There are days that I still struggle with it. But they are far and few between.
To end, I would like to quote RuPaul Charles: If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else. Can I get an Amen?