“Self-love is not selfish; you cannot truly love another until you know how to love yourself.”

Self-love is something I initially assumed everyone had and that we never went without it. I thought as humans it was innate for us to love ourselves the way we love others. I was proved wrong with this assumption a year ago. 

What is the meaning of self-love? 

Self-love in my eyes is being completely content in who you are and learning to love the person you’re becoming. Everyone has insecurities and things they don’t particularly like about themselves and that’s normal, but being able to accept and embrace every part of yourself that makes you who you are is the pivotal point of learning to love yourself. 

Reflecting on the last few years I’ve realised I only began to learn the true meaning of self-love last year when I went to uni. It wasn’t until I was away from the toxic parts of my life that I was able to build the confidence I had always hoped to have.  Up until this point I never knew just how unhappy I was in myself. 

But its not as difficult as it seems to learn to love yourself.  

Here are two of the most prominent hurdles I have overcome in the last year on my mission to find self-love:

1. Appearance

For about four years now I have majorly struggled with being confident in my own body. At the age of 15 I was diagnosed with an overactive thyroid which led to extreme weight loss. Once this was under control through treatment I returned to my normal weight and then gained some more. This was a really difficult time for me as I was used to being a size 8/10 to at one point becoming a size 14. Most people in their life struggle with their appearance at some point and I’ve learned that that’s okay.  The main reason I’ve accepted this is because our physical forms can change, but what’s inside us is what matters. I know its very cliche and I’ll admit a part of my happiness has come from returning to my original dress size over the last year, however I fell even more in love with the person inside of me that grew and flourished.  We can change how we look but we cant change our characteristics and I’m not sure about you, but I’d much rather be a person with a kind heart and be a reliant friend with a tiny bit of chub than look like a model with not much substance beyond that.  

REMEMBER, both girls AND boys, you are beautiful. If you’re not happy with your appearance, don’t stress. You can change that. Just be a good person and in my eyes you’re already perfect. 

2. Purpose

From the age of 10 my only dream in life was to ice skate. I competed both nationally and internationally for five years and was adamant my job as an adult would be to coach others. I had dreams of competing at the World Championships and then hoped to give skaters the same opportunity that I had been given. 

I believed my purpose was to skate.

This was short lived as after my thyroid diagnosis I was off the ice for a year to be treated and to recover. I knew my health had to come first so made the decision that it was time to hang up my skates. I know I made the right decision as I still struggle sometimes with my health, however accepting that all the plans I had made for my future self couldn’t be achieved was a lot harder than you would think. 

But, as the famous saying goes: “Everything happens for a reason.”

At 16 I knew it was time to really focus on my studies and what I wanted to do as a career. My decision? Journalism. 

Last September I enrolled at the University of Kent at the Centre for Journalism which has been incredibly life changing. The confidence I have gained in my writing ability since being at uni is immense and I couldn’t be more grateful. 

I now know my purpose is to write.  To write about the things that matter. To help people. 

I know everyone feels they must have their life planned out and a career chosen. If you feel you’re destined for something and it doesn’t work out, then be patient, better things are yet to come. 

The issues surrounding why we struggle to love ourselves varies from person to person. 

For me it was my appearance and my purpose. But I’ve learned beauty truly does come from within and that we will end up doing exactly what we are meant to be doing, even if its not part of the original plan. 

No matter the reasons standing in the way, learning to love yourself is not impossible, and so very rewarding once you being to battle the hurdles in the way. Surrounding yourself with the right people is definitely a starting point. I'm so thankful for my friends at uni that helped me every day for the last year to build my confidence and showed me a side to myself that I never knew existed.  I’m not sure I would have begun to love the person I’m becoming without their help.

"We can't help everyone, but everyone can help someone."

 
 
 

Learning to love yourself