The topic of self-love is a complicated one. For some, loving yourself is a part of everyday living, while for others it’s a little bit more of a task. Regardless, we all have some level of self-something. Talking about our stories of how we fell in love with others (romantically, platonically) can be easy. Talking about others is easy in general. But what if we asked you to talk about yourself? About how and when you knew you really, truly loved yourself? Well, today, we’ll be doing just that—focusing on self-love. More precisely, your stories of self-love. Definitely grab a tissue if you’re one of those people… no judgements here!
I took a walk by myself by the lake. My phone was dead. I had nothing but my thoughts and the sound of the wind and birds. I was on my own adventure, and realized what a great adventure this is. I felt a sense of solitude and was at peace with who I was.
I was riding home from the bus one day in Newmarket. I had cross country practice for a provincial team. I had just pushed my body to the grind. Putting in endless rounds of hills and races, at different paces, and covering ground and miles on my own two feet. Being a civilian and adult, finding my way home on this hour long bus route, satisfied with my progress, and with my ability. With my courage to try something different and put in the work. I felt like I had the ability to do anything. I felt like I could accomplish anything if I was able to just push myself, and run for the finish line.
It took a long time to learn to love myself. I struggled with different insecurities about myself all through high school. I felt as if I were trapped in a box that I could not escape. It wasn't until I got to university that I felt as if I were finally free. I found people who genuinely wanted to be my friend—they weren't just my friend because we had known each other since kindergarten. When I was finally able to break away from the box I had put myself in I was able to explore who I truly was. I became who I had always wanted to be. It was a long journey of self-discovery but it ended in truly loving who I am, what I stand for, and the people I surround myself with.
I’m honestly still searching for this moment. But I’m working on it!
For maybe the first time in my life,I am content with myself and my life. After hitting rock bottom mentally, I finally decided to go get help. I needed a chance to enjoy my life again and I wanted to start my physical transition. Going to therapy and asking for help was the best thing I ever did.
The first thing I did was remove myself from the spaces and situations that caused me the most stress and anxiety. This unfortunately meant leaving school for the second time. Although it was a hard decision, it ended up opening doors I never knew existed. I am now working a wonderful job that allows me to pursue my passions, and maintain my mental and physical health. I also came out to my friends from school and my family. Things aren’t ever the same once you come out, but I have now found some new and wonderful support systems. My partner’s family has taken me in as one of their own and they do their best to assist me in any way they can.
With all this being said, I think being able to physically transition may have saved my life. I was absolutely miserable with myself and was jealous of all the beautiful people in the world living in the bodies I wanted. Starting HRT not only improved my self image but also my mental health. I also recently received top surgery, and I can, without a doubt, say I am now truly free to express myself and my gender in any way I want to. There is still a lot of work to do and I don’t think transitioning every really ends, but for now I am happy.
To me, loving yourself and having confidence in yourself are synonymous ideas. I’ve never truly questioned whether I should love myself or have confidence— it’s always been a no-brainer. I think this has a lot to do with my family, friends, and scouting organization. My parents always encouraged me to “be the best you you can be” and challenged me to grow into the things I loved, always there to catch me and pick me back up if I fell with words of love and encouragement. My Baba, Dido, and Teta just loved and accepted my siblings and I for who we were—they let us just be ourselves and loved us so much for it. In times where my family was going through hardship, I leaned on my friends, and without them I honestly don’t think I would’ve come out on the other side as strong and confident as I am today. I had such powerful female role models around me all the time, my older sisters included, and the men in my life encouraged me to be confident—to take my seat at the table because I deserved to and prove how badass I could be with who I was. The scouting organization was huge in helping me with this: it taught me all of these incredible skills, that girls and women are awesome and can do anything. The simplest way I can put it is: be the best you you can be and surround yourself with people that help you live that motto every day.
Self-love is definitely an ongoing struggle for me, and it probably always will be for most of us. I’ve struggled a bit with eating disorders and a lot with body image. Having kind friends to talk with about it definitely helped to some degree, but my biggest support has been having a loving partner to be there for me when I’m feeling down. They have given a significant boost to my self-confidence, and due to their continued support, I have grown much more comfortable with myself.
I was seven years old. Although it took me a while to realize it, I consider it to be the first time I knew I loved myself. I was very curious and independent as a child, but I was quiet and would often find myself being bullied by other kids. Despite that, I was always smiling—except one September day in grade one. During recess, I approached the soccer field filled with boys and politely asked if I could play. A boy, who shall not be named, approached me and said that girls were not allowed to play soccer because it was a boys only sport. This was my first encounter with the ever-present patriarchy and common symptom of toxic masculinity. Seven-year-old me was obviously not having any of it, so I punched him in the face. I was sent to the principal's office, but first grade me was onto something and I love her for that.
When I actually started taking care of my body by treating it to nourishment, quiet reflection, and time for making art instead of fast food, alcohol, and too much sleep. Also, I had no idea how much a simple skincare routine would make me feel loved every single day.
I knew I loved myself because I finally stopped asking myself to see what I thought other people saw and started seeing the person across the mirror instead.
I still have days when I'm not the biggest fan of myself, but I also have days when I am so happy and so content with where I am today, who I am, by whom I'm surrounded, and the things I've achieved.At the end of the day I am grateful and I am happy, and that's what makes me love myself.
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