My Journey With Self-Love

“Self-love”

Noun

  1. The instinct by which one’s actions are directed to the promotion of one’s own welfare or well-being, especially an excessive regard for one’s own advantage.
  2. conceit; vanity

That is the official definition of self-love on Dictionary.com. Something that can be so complicated and can have such a time-consuming journey boiled down into two short definitions. 

Throughout my time in high school, I was insecure. I don’t think people would have guessed it because I was always loud, funny and involved, but on the inside, I truly did not like myself. My insecurity rooted from my lack of excellence in academics. I had been tutored since the fourth grade, I couldn’t pay attention for more than five minutes and had no idea why, I nearly failed almost every math class I was in, and I had even been told I would never get into a real university by a tutor I had my junior year. So, after 11 grueling years of being behind my peers in school, senior year I imploded (emphasis on implode). I didn’t start partying more or yelling at my parents, in fact, none of my friends could even tell I wasn’t okay. I was keeping it all hidden away in corners where no one could reach but me. I spent countless mornings driving to school crying because I was so lost and absolutely hated myself. The feeling that still irks me when I think about it was how I would pull into my parking spot, wipe away salty tears that masked my face, throw on mascara and a smile, and as soon as I stepped out of my car I was the confident, funny Laine that everyone knew. I’d hate to say that the girl I was in front of other people was a façade because that person really was how I normally am, or at least who I wanted to be. Outgoing, seemingly confident, likes to make other people laugh, driven and dressed well. However, during a time where insecurity was consuming my shadow, it felt as though I was putting on a shell each morning, then striping it off once I retired to my bed at night. I hated it. 

After a few months of feeling lost, unsure and hungry from not eating as much as I used to, I finally had a moment of clarity. Now, I am not the most religious person you’ll meet. So, although I don’t make it to church every Sunday and I haven’t read the bible from front to back, I can whole heartedly say that I believe in God. I found myself feeling extra weak one night in March of 2019. I sat on my bathroom floor in a ball crying because I had no idea where my life was going. At this point I hated myself for numerous reasons I had made up in my head. This night specifically my stomach was empty and all of the sudden I felt like I could have fainted. But then, somehow, I found strength. I opened my eyes wide and said to myself, “I am so tired of living like this. It’s time to get up.” and so I did. That’s when my journey to self-love began. 

After I made the decision that it was time to start caring for myself again, it was like my guardian angel had come down and guided me right to where I am today. I began to feel the sun slowly thaw my body from its frozen state it had been in over the past six or so months. The journey of self-love is a long road. There are many twists and bumps along the way. But I promise you, you can get there. You can get to a point where you’ll love both your body and mind. The confidence you’ll exude will be authentic and because of that, you’ll make other people feel good too. That’s been one of the best experiences with my journey to self-love; making others feel good about themselves. If you noticed in the definition of self-love that I provided at the beginning of this, it directly relates it to being vain and frankly, I don’t think that’s true. For the more I began to love myself, the more beauty I saw in others and the more I wanted to celebrate that beauty.

At the end of May, I gathered a few friends on a sunny morning to celebrate and capture their beauty. My boyfriend, Joe Timmerman, is a photographer and helped me accentuate their beauty after I had painted on them. These three women are people I have known for many years and they were each with me during the summer of 2019, which was a time of extreme growth for me. Abby, Lauren, and Amanda have all been through things that have made them into the wonderful and beautiful people they are today and continue to grow into. I have found an abundance of joy in being their friend and I feel honored to be able to display their beauty on this post. These are real, authentic women who are strong and have taken on different obstacles of life. Their beauty shines from not only their physical attributes, but their intelligence, humor, drive to succeed, their contagious laughter, and the way they each view life and the world.

Too many people in this world will live a life not knowing how beautiful they are. The eating disorders, depression, and anxiety that curve through young people’s bodies due to not looking like the girl who is plastered on the cover of a magazine makes my heart ache. There was a time in my life where I couldn’t look at my body without being completly consumed with digust. It felt as though I couldn’t even make out the shape of what I truly looked like. That is a feeling I would never wish on my own worst enemy. The concept that is even harder to grasp is that these “young people” who are experiencing something similar are not just fifteen year old girls. These negative thoughts about oneself often begin to set in at a young age.

Children are impressionable and as moldable as clay. A few years ago, Dove conducted a video displaying how when asked what young girls don’t like about themselves, their answers were the same as their mothers. When a child hears that a role model in their life doesn’t like their legs, more often than not, that child will also develop a distaste for their own legs.

Struggling with self-love and self acceptance is not just an adult problem, it is a life problem that touches people of all ages.

The world is in a strange place right now and many people were left alone for months at a time. If you are going through a dark time with the relationship you have with yourself right now, take this post as a sign. I encourage you to tell someone you trust and who loves you deeply. It is an intimidating thing to explain to someone that you don’t like yourself, or you’ve been feeling sad for no particular reason. However, I promise you that you will not regret reaching out for help. Life itself can feel impossible to conquer, but once you let people in, the more possible things begin to feel.

Allow someone to reach out a helping hand and lift you off the ground. For a long time, I spent life believing that I could get through anything myself and that I didn’t need anyone’s help. I thought that crying in front of others was something to be embarrassed of and sharing my emotions would only burden the person on the recieving end. Wow, was I wrong! If anything, doing those things will help you discover the light that is shining so brightly inside of you. Be honest with the people you love most in the world. Friendships are life saving; family is life saving. Do not shy away from them.

Not only reach out to a person you trust, but I encourage you to also take refuge in a journal. Write, sketch, paint, and just get your hands dirty in the arts with the end goal to express the emotions you have been experiencing. It does not matter if you can’t even draw a straight line because this is for you, not for anyone else.

When I first dragged my bag of self doubt and self hate over to my moms feet, one thing she told me was, “You, more than anyone else, deserve to know how beautiful you are.”. And now, I am telling you the same thing. If no one else will, I’ll be your cheerleader. You will get there, you will love yourself because you deserve to. It’s now up to you to lift yourself off the ground.

This is me. I have slightly crooked teeth, an imperfect nose, and if I am wearing nail polish, it will most likely be chipped. The imperfections of myself have grown into what I like about myself the most. My messiness, short attention span, knobby knees, and thick brown hair are all things I once despised, now I love those parts of me. The imperfections of who you are, are all humbling reminders that we are indeed human beings. Once you learn that for yourself, run with it and never look back.

2 thoughts on “My Journey With Self-Love

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