I ended 2018 in a relatively dark place. I didn't have a job lined up after college and, quite frankly, wasn't sure I wanted one in my field. While my friends had plans to move towns, states, and even countries away, I was sure I'd end up back at home. Then there was the self-loathing I had battled since middle school: my skin wasn't clear enough, my teeth weren't white enough, and my waist wasn't small enough. I was exhausted, self-conscious, and constantly comparing myself to others.
When it was time to make my new year's resolution, I knew I would only be happy if I learned to accept and love myself as I was, instead of trying to change the things I didn't like. So, for the first few months of 2019, I committed to practicing self-care every single day. It seemed like a wise first step: making time for myself, even if it were only for a few minutes here and there. I started painting my nails, doing hair and face masks, or taking five minutes to stretch. Sometimes I'd just lay in bed and snuggle my cat. And though I knew it would be a long, difficult journey, I tried to stop focusing so much on other people's opinions of me and my choices.
Once I did, I realized that I had a lot of anxiety centered around pleasing other people. When I started listening to what I needed instead of trying to predict what others might need from me or think of me, it was amazing how things began to change. Yes, some of my relationships suffered, but others grew stronger, including the one with myself. Making choices based on what I wanted my life to look like paid off in other ways, too. I landed that first job after all, which eliminated a significant source of stress heading into graduation. About halfway through the year, I felt I was strong enough to start addressing my issues with body confidence.
I knew for a long time that the food I was eating and lack of exercise I was getting only led me to feel more lethargic and uncomfortable in my own skin. I decided a part of loving myself was also treating my body well, so I searched for a workout program that I would enjoy and began eating foods that made my body feel good and energized. That became my most important form of self-care. I prioritized myself for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, and while my body only changed a little bit, I felt different from the inside out. Suddenly I was fitter, more energized, and less stressed.
On a near-daily basis, I simply decided that I was enough, and then I moved on.
In the process, I did my best to let go of that self-hatred. It's really difficult not to look at yourself in a mirror and immediately start picking yourself apart, but I forced myself to do exactly that. On a near-daily basis, I simply decided that I was enough, and then I moved on.
I'm still working to overcome my insecurities and listen to my own voice over everyone else's. It takes time, and it's a choice I have to make over and over again, but I've come a long way since I first set out to just take care of myself for a few minutes every day. My resolution for 2020 is to continue on this path of self-acceptance — and never look back.