At the end of each chapter in the book “You are a badass,” the author gives four to ten suggestions on how to enact the principles she had just discussed in that chapter. How to create more wealth for yourself, how to make your dreams a reality, how to accept you current social situation as a reflection of yourself, and more. The final suggestion on how to improve your life in each chapter was to love yourself. So simple, yet so difficult.
It sounds really easy. I say the word love dozens of times throughout the day. To my dad when we pass each other in the kitchen in the dark at 5:00am, both headed to our respective gyms to begin our day with a sweat. To my brother when he heads to his business law exam. To my friend who brings me my favourite, mint tea, when they know I’m working a long shift. To peanut butter when I crack open the jar for my smoothie. I say love a lot, but I don’t say it to myself. The book, and actually my mom who tells me the older (and wiser) she gets, the less she truly cares what others think of her and the more confidence she gains in who she is, made me think about how many times I have been unhappy with something about myself and how in 10, 20, or 50 years, I know I’m going to regret it.
“Why wasn’t I nicer to myself?” I’ll say. “I had so much going for me, why didn’t I look in the mirror and name all the things I loved about myself,” or “Why was I upset at times when I looked in the mirror?” Or better yet, “Why didn’t I just accept myself and really truly love myself for all of those years?”
You know when you look at a picture of a group of you and your friends and you see all of your friends smiles, their laughter, how confident and radiant they look. Then you look at yourself and wonder if your arms always look that big in photos, or if yellow is really a colour you can pull off, or why you didn’t check your hair in the mirror one last time before this photo. Imagine, if we looked at ourselves and saw the things we saw in our friends. If we stared at photos of ourselves and saw confidence, smile lines, and happiness. If we saw how much we loved our freckles, or how we got our dimples from our grandma. If we didn’t immediately look at our waists and our hips or begin to pick apart where our gym routines went wrong. Imagine if we we looked at ourselves like we look at our best friends.
As we get older we look back and think how ridiculous we were for being so preoccupied with certain things. I know for sure that when I look back on my life I will NEVER think, “Wow, I really wish I had spent more time criticizing myself and wishing I could change things.” I can’t ever imagine a situation where I’ll think, “Hmm, I’m so glad I spent days, months, and years focused on how much I hate this or want to get rid of that.” It’s so silly. I want to look back on my life and think, “I’m really proud of the person I have become, because I am beautiful, brilliant, there is no other person exactly like me, and I love myself.”
The thing is, I don’t have to wait 50 years to say that. I don’t have to grow wise in my years and “earn” the right to love myself after a lifetime of being unhappy with who I am and THEN realizing that I should have actually been confident with who I was that whole time. I am the same person right now as I will be in 50 years. I am me. And I love myself.
Physically, mentally, emotionally, and on rare occasions, spiritually, I like to push myself, to become better in some way or another. While this is a strong trait of mine that has pushed me to explore many new opportunities and allowed me to grow, it also means I sometimes find myself criticizing myself to find another way to make myself better or stronger or brighter. I am guilty of being stuck in the future, always thinking one step ahead and never realizing how happy I am in the moment. We get to live this life once, and I know if I look back and realize how much time I spent agonizing over my “flaws,” I will regret it.
I look at confident people with such admiration. I am sometimes one of those people, but I can always be that person more. It’s about doing things that make us happy, wearing things that make us feel beautiful, surrounding ourselves with people that are positive and lift us up. No one is perfect, which is good, because then we can all go about love ourselves as perfectly imperfect people.
Take a look in the mirror. That’s you. That’s the only you you’ll get. So love you, because you deserve it.