Okay, real talk.. Are you your own best friend?
I watched a video on Facebook the other day that really made me think.
The video started with 2 best friends saying really hurtful things to each other. As the video went on, they let the watcher know, that the comments being made to their best friend, were actually comments they had written about themselves.
The message behind the video was pointing out why it is we say things to ourselves we would never say to our best friend.
As I watched the video, I really resonated with the message they were trying to get across. I myself am 100% guilty of putting myself down and saying things in my head that I would never say to my best friend. When I think of the conversations I have with my husband or my best friends, I never think to say something that would put them down or make them feel anything less than what I think they are which is amazing. If they say I look ugly or fat I’m so quick to correct them and give them positive affirmations without a second thought. Yet when it comes to myself, the positive affirmations are so slow to come to mind and the negativity is the loudest thought present.
I don’t know what it is like for guys, but as a girl growing up, we were always taught that you are beautiful no matter what. We had presentations at school that would be focused around building your self esteem. We would be surrounded with reminders to positively build yourself up. It was such a prominent feature in my life growing up as a child into my teenage years, that I never thought I would deal with the feelings of self doubt and the swirls of negativity about myself. I had been given the tools that were supposed to help me combat those thoughts and keep my mentality strong; so why is it then, that those tools failed me and unfortunately, so many other young people.
Were we built to self doubt and be negative about ourselves? I don’t think so. I feel like our capabilities to be our biggest promoter is within reach, but our surrounding circumstances and life experiences greatly affect the way we think.
I always thought I was a pretty confident kinda girl. I didn’t really let my appearance affect me in any way. I was definitely an awkward kid. I had really bad buck teeth that only braces could fix; I had thin blonde hair and I was the size of a stick. My fashion sense was tragic (but what 90’s kids isn’t?) and I’m pretty sure I was into weird things. I was bullied as a kid for my abnormally large buck teeth but from what I remember I never really let it affect me. I just went on with my life and the bullies eventually moved on to another school.
As I got older, my surroundings and peers slowly started to make their way into my thoughts and feelings. Without realising, I was slowly allowing others the power to affect how I thought and felt about myself. What I was once able to brush off and ignore, suddenly started to stick and influence my mind. Little things that never bothered me about myself suddenly became a big deal.
When I was around 16 or 17, my self esteem hit an all time low. I literally hated myself. I felt alone and ugly. I would wear make up in the hopes that it would cover the face I couldn’t stand to look at in the mirror. I lowered my standards in the hopes that false acceptance from others by blending in rather than standing out, would either give me friends, help me feel better about myself or even change my opinion on me. Sadly though, it didn’t. I ended up feeling crappier than before, feeling worse about myself and hating the person I had become. I honestly felt like I had dug myself a hole I couldn’t get out of. I wasn’t happy.
I finally had had enough. I knew it was time to make a change. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I knew it needed to be done. So I made my plan. The plan was to leave everything I knew, everything that had contributed to my unhappiness. To leave on my own for the purpose of finding who I really was. And that journey took me to Australia.
I’ll be the first to say, moving countries wasn’t as easy as I thought. Some of you may even be thinking did I really need to be that drastic? Well in answer to that question, yes, I did. If I wanted to change, I needed a change. It’s about breaking that cycle. And I did it with every intent of succeeding. It wasn’t easy, but looking back, it was so worth it.
On my flight over, my family had all written me notes to read on the plane. The one that got me the most was from my mum. In it, she had quoted the song by Pink titled Perfect. Never had a song resonated so much with me than that song at that time. My mum had quoted it because that’s how she felt about me. That’s how she wanted me to feel. I still get teary thinking about the emotions I felt on that plane ride. Every time I hear that song, I now think of my mum and her letter of hope for me.
Changing the way you feel about yourself takes time. It takes constant self reminding and it requires a desire for change. It’s not an easy task to break those bad habits when you are the only one who sees it. Breaking your mentality is the hardest part. Like anything, you will have good days and bad days. You’ll take 3 steps forward only to fall 5 steps back. It doesn’t happen overnight. It took about 6 months before I finally was able to take a selfie with no make up and post it on social media. It took a year before I changed the way I dressed. And it took 2 years before I could confidently say, I love myself. 2 years. Other than my mum, no one knew the internal struggle I had. You could probably ask my friends in Australia and they probably would be oblivious. I had become that good at hiding it. And that’s the problem these days; We are getting too good at hiding it.
I won’t say I’m proud of the way I treated myself; I’m not. I won’t say I regret it either, because I don’t. Had I not hit that all time low, I never would have made that change. I definitely wouldn’t have met the amazing people I did. And ultimately, I may have never met my amazing husband.
I will say though, that I’m pretty disappointed in the lack of education there was at the time on how to actually combat the feelings I felt. When you’re stuck in it, people can tell you what you should be doing but you don’t really want to listen. I thought to myself they had no idea what I was thinking and feeling so how could they try and tell me otherwise. I failed to see that it really didn’t matter what anyone said, what mattered was what I believed.
In today’s world, we have too many kids going through depression, being bullied, committing suicide and ultimately making life choices they will one day regret. We have too many taboos placed on conversation topics between kids and their parents. There are too many barriers between kids and communication. There are so many outlets for the trouble to start.
Following my experience, I wanted to write a couple things I feel like might help, at least they did for me.
You are beautiful. It doesn’t matter what the world’s standards of beautiful are because they are always changing depending on trends, culture and where you are in the world. What was once considered horrendous may now be the hottest thing out. Be your own kind of beautiful. We were all made to be different. The world today is so focused on the outward appearance and placing the judgement of a person based on how they look. We are surrounded by unrealistic images of what is considered sexy. The world is aware of what’s going on yet they continue to parade these images and influences in front of us. There is only one you and that’s something to be proud of. If we spend our whole lives striving to be someone else, that’s a life wasted where you could have been you. I still have moments I forget that. I’m still guilty of comparing myself to others and I’m still guilty of not liking parts of me. But I’m not letting it consume me like I once did. I’m taking steps to change my perception and opinion. I know there is only one me and I’m the most beautiful me there is.
When you feel yourself sinking, release one weight at a time. Changing your mindset requires baby steps. It’s not something you can change at the snap of your fingers. If you could, you wouldn’t be in this situation. The key to reducing the possibility of overwhelming yourself, is to tackle one thing at a time. For me it was simply being able to take a photo with no make up for one, and then posting it for all my friends to see on social media. That may not seem like much to you, but it was a big deal for me. Following that small weight release, I felt I was able to not worry so much if I got caught with no make up or be so obsessed with the way I looked. It was a huge relief. Fast forward to now and i barely wear make up at all. Not only is it super helpful and uplifting to have a husband who loves me make up free, but I’m also comfortable just being me. Focus on the one thing at a time. Only progress as much as you feel you are capable of. It doesn’t matter how long it’ll take; what matters is that you get there.
Talk to yourself the same way you would talk to your best friend. I wish the video I spoke about at the beginning of my post was around when I was struggling with these issues. I would never say to my best friend what I would say to myself. But why do I regard myself lower than my best friend? It really did provoke some reflective thoughts on me looking forward in the future and regarding myself higher than anyone. I deserve to uplift myself as well. Just because no one can technically hear it, you are still listening. And to be honest, no matter how hard we try, I do believe some people can look right through the front we put up and see how we truly feel. If your thoughts are any reflection on your actions and mannerisms, someone will catch you out on it sooner or later; if not a loved one, it’ll be your future, stronger self.
Only you are standing in the way of your self acceptance. This took me a while to really understand; it wasn’t what others were doing or saying to me, it’s me. I’m making the choice to allow myself to be affected by what they are doing. I can choose to just ignore it and do me. I didn’t realise that I actually had the choice. You do too. It can be hard to accept that when it feels like you’re being overloaded with negativity, but you really are the only person standing in the way of your self acceptance and self love. Like I said earlier, tackle one issue at a time. Go your own pace. But if you want a change, you have to be and make the change.
Tell someone. This may sound contradictory to my previous paragraph, but, tell someone. Make yourself accountable to someone. If you need that extra bit of support or someone to help build you up and remind you to not talk down about yourself, find someone you can trust to be that for you. My husband is my person. I can tell him when I’m having a bad day or feeling a little down and he will give me that little boost I need to keep going. While ultimately it is up to you to make the change, it is nice to have someone there you can talk to and just get it out of your system.
Learn to love yourself, just the way you are. Pretty self explanatory I think. We are all different. We have people who love us because of our differences. We are all worthy of love from others but more importantly from ourselves. Embrace the differences that make you stand out from the crowd. Learn to love the bits you don’t like. Change what you can to make it love-able. Be your own kind of beautiful. To me, I think confidence is something that is super attractive. There is nothing better than seeing someone who loves who they are and isn’t afraid to share it with others. I’m hoping to be that kind of person again one day. I hope you can too.
While I know I may continue to struggle, I know that I can do it. I know that you can do it too. Every day is a new day to be better than the last. Make an effort to be your own best friend. There’s no better day to start than today.
Let me know how you go
Mrs Yolo xo