At this time of year with Valentine’s day around the corner (but also year-round) there’s a real pressure to be in love. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE love. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that somebody thinks you are great unconditionally and wants to spend time with you. However, my personal viewpoint is that you can’t invest in a relationship if you don’t feel secure and confident within yourself. Self love goes hand in hand with romantic love. How can you accept love from somebody else if you don’t believe yourself that you are worth it? You can’t rely on somebody else to hold you up. You have to be able to do it on your own.
WHAT’S HOLDING YOU BACK?
For me, it was my skin (acne + redness has been the bane of my existence for years) and my non-symmetrical hooded eyes. For a long time I obsessed over my imperfections, compared myself to airbrushed pictures from magazines with gorgeous skin and huge, round eyes and wasted my time wishing I looked different. I know that many others like me are struggling with feeling good about their skin, even on its not-so-good days. Acne can be a real blow to the confidence, especially when you’re young. Looking back, it’s sad to think of all the time and energy I spent waiting around for the impossible, instead of redirecting my focus elsewhere and embracing my appearance. Not to say that I think I’m perfect now, but it’s no longer an everyday struggle to tear myself away from the mirror. Everyone has different insecurities, but they need to be acknowledged, accepted and either worked on or left alone, instead of being let control our lives and choices.
What I needed when I was younger and struggled with accepting my flaws was some tough love. I was constantly worrying about what others thought of me and comparing myself to people I saw on Instagram. If you’re in a similar position, here’s some real talk to keep you grounded.
Nobody is perfect (no matter what it seems like)
People only show the good parts of their lives. do you often go around sharing your insecurities with people you meet, showing them all your flaws? Do you post that unflattering photo to Instagram, instead of the one where you think you look great? Everybody wants to put their best foot forward, so comparing yourself at your most vulnerable (think: first thing in the morning) to somebody else’s curated best is absurd. You can’t get a full picture of what someone is like as a person based on what you see online or even sometimes in person.
Everybody cares more about what they look like than what you look like
I think this is a nugget of wisdom everyone learns as they age. Each year that passes I realise more and more that I’m so busy dealing with my own life that Ii couldn’t care less what somebody else looks like. When I was younger, I often felt like all eyes were on me and scrutinized my every move. Now I’m beginning to think that everyone else in my high school felt the exact same way. And guess what – I can’t remember a single outfit, hairstyle or blemish of any one of my peers that stood out to me. I remember their personalities and the fun things we did, but most of all I remember myself and what I was wearing and doing. People care more about themselves and what they look like than they do about you, so remember that.
You’re stuck with you, so make you the best you
Guess what – to a certain degree, you can’t change who you are. Of course you can diet and exercise, get a great skin care routine, and wear clothes that make you feel flattered and suit your personality. But beyond plastic surgery, you’re stuck with being who you are physically. Whether you like it or not, you’ve been lucky enough to be alive at this point in time, and your body is giving you that opportunity! Celebrate it, thank it and accept it. Turn who you are into someone you’re proud of in ways you have control over. Be constructive, not destructive – learn new skills, volunteer, travel, or do whatever else makes you happy. Don’t tear yourself down but instead build up other areas of your life like your creativity, skills, and career. Successful, happy and wonderful people are not defined by their appearance or their flaws, but by their strengths and skills. Turn yourself into someone you’d love to be friends with!
TIPS FOR MOVING PAST YOUR FLAWS
If you’re aware of all this, but are still struggling to get over the hurdle of accepting your flaws, then here are some approaches that I hope will help you to ignore them:
1. Distract your eye
Distract the eye by visually shifting the attention away from your insecurity and towards something you like. Say, like me, you really dislike your eyes. Learn ways to play up your lips! Aren’t happy with your body? Learn how to dye/cut/style your hair in a way you love! It’s a constructive way to minimise the things you aren’t so happy about without obsessing over them.
2. Distract your mind
If you are feeling really down and just want a break, I highly recommend getting creative. Some really immersive activities include sewing, cleaning, exercising, writing, or cooking. The wonderful part about all these things is that they give you tangible results. It feels great knowing you’ve made or achieved something, and you’ll have less time to worry about whatever is upsetting you when you’re enjoying the fruits of your labour.
Of course, there are ways around insecurities that involve plastic surgery. If that’s an option you choose, more power to you for taking action. But I think that there’s always something negative to focus on, always the next ‘problem’ that’s holding you back. If you can acknowledge, accept and move past these things, such a huge weight will come off your shoulders and you’ll gain the time and focus to dedicate yourself to not only achieving your dreams, but also loving someone else.
For me, my bad skin will always be an issue. I’ve done the best I can and developed a great skin routine, but even that hasn’t gotten me to ‘perfection’ like I used to dream about. I’ll always have redness and acne. And there’s nothing to be done about my eyes. I’m learning to work with them and do my makeup in ways that are flattering, and since then I’ve even got some compliments on them!
If you focus on loving yourself in the ways you were born (e.g. I have really big lips which I love) and the things you’ve earned throughout your life (I learnt to paint and I now earn money by selling my artwork), you become a more well rounded person who is capable of giving and receiving the kind of love you and anyone else deserves.
Lots of love and happy Valentine’s day,