Try to answer this question:
“Do you love yourself?”
Is it so wrong to answer with a simple yes? Is it really something to be ashamed of to be in complete acceptance of who you are? All of the self-doubt, insecurities, and self-deprecating thoughts that I have had about my body and my worth finally subsided to a minimum when I came to a realization.
I am not going to look like everyone else. I am not going to experience life like anyone else. No matter how hard I try, I cannot be anyone else. I can only be myself; therefore, I have to learn to love myself. Self-love often comes with negative connotations such as arrogance. Why is it that we live in a society where people who feel confident in their own skin are torn down and labelled if they do not fit the perfect constraints of what society dictates a person should or should not look like? On social media, we are constantly comparing ourselves to the unblemished, Photoshopped versions of people and then left to wonder why we don’t look the same. We can analyze everything in comparison to someone else on social media from their body shape to the clarity of their skin. It is extremely difficult to be at peace with our bodies if there are so many constraints that we are trying to mold ourselves into.
In school, we are taught how to solve logarithms and differentiate cells and yet the system has neglected to teach us that our mental health matters. No one seems to pay attention to the alarming number of students in United States who experience some sort of mental illness such as depression, eating disorders, body image issues, mood disorders, or anxiety. Such internal problems are rarely ever talked about at my school; the emotional instability that young people experience in the face of academic pressures is not a subject that is openly discussed. How is anyone supposed to feel safe talking about such feelings when all we are taught is to suppress them and focus on grades instead? Having our intelligence categorized into numeric values based upon a comparison to the capabilities of other students is irrevocably detrimental to our perception of ourselves.
The method I use to console myself when I see people doing better than me, whether it be getting higher grades or wearing a cuter shirt, is to remember that their intelligence and beauty do not take away one ounce of my intelligence or beauty. I can be wonderful and confident separately from everyone else. The only way that the qualities of others can take away from our own is if we let ourselves focus on them to the point where we can no longer see our own. It is not bad to want attention. It is not bad to want to be complimented. It is not bad to need reassurance. It is not selfish or narcissistic; it is just human. We did not make it this far in life by accident. We have surpassed every curveball that has come our way throughout our entire lives, and we have survived. We are worth more than numbers on a report card and pictures on a screen. Everyone deserves to feel like they are worthy, especially in their own eyes. We owe it to ourselves to preserve, cherish, and adore every inch of the person who we have become without having to feel ashamed as a result.
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Written by Chloe M.
Photo credit Chloe M.
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