One self love a day, keeps the anxiety away

Yep, you read that right. One self love a day, keeps anxiety away. What does that even mean though? The self love part? To some, it’s liking what you see in the mirror. For others it’s not liking it, but rather accepting it. For me, you ask? For me, self love has become knowing what I deserve - whether it’s how someone treats me or how I treat myself. Self love is a process; an abstract thought. It is not something that can be pinned down to a particular thing. For example, just because I treat myself to nice clothes and pamper myself, or even if I simply appear well groomed, it does not mean I treat my body right. I could be, simultaneously, a smoker; someone very unfit; or maybe someone who eats only junk food or things that are damaging to my health. Not to generalise or assume that people who do those things do not love themselves. So for me, naturally, self love isn’t about the physical treatment, it’s more than what I do to my body, it’s how I allow it to be treated.

SELF LOVE HAS MORE TO DO WITH HOW YOU LET PEOPLE TREAT YOU, WHICH IS ULTIMATELY A REFLECTION OF THE LOVE YOU THINK YOU DESERVE

I have learnt, probably the hard way, that we cannot please everyone. If we dress a certain way to fit in with a certain social class or peer group, the others will look down at you. If we project our voices on particular topics otherwise regarded as a taboo, we are considered simply ill-mannered or ironically, maybe even uneducated. Whatever we do, however we do it, someone will have something to say. And by that, I mean a not-so-nice something. But this is where the difference lies. Do we allow the opinions of one, ten or even one hundred others influence the way we behave? Do we alter the way we conduct ourselves, for the pleasure of others? I remember the first time someone told me “you’re so weird, you should just be quiet”.

Now, to some, this may seem funny — it probably even was. But for me, it was a slash in my confidence. I was discussing how poverty makes me feel sad sometimes, as if I am ungrateful. Someone had the decency to tell me I talk too much, that maybe I should keep those thoughts to myself. And so I did. I gave in to this idea that we shouldn’t discuss certain things. This is one of many examples where someone had tried to, and successfully, shut down my confidence. Now you’re probably thinking, how does this relate to the title in any way? When someone tells you your passion is a waste of time, or your art won’t sell, or that you aren’t a good writer anyway — it chips away at the part of you that contains self love. The part of you that prepares speeches, paints with a smile, types until late at night. It chips away the part where you love what you do. In turn, leaving you anxious and negatively self conscious.

My mistake would be the part where I let those comments drag me down. The part where I allowed self love and confidence and radiance to be replaced with anxiety and overthinking. I let the comments of a few shade over the love of many. I let myself believe that I maybe should keep my thoughts to myself, maybe I should smile and giggle less too. I even began dressing down and sitting alone in certain situations, just to avoid “annoying” someone. It was those things that chipped away at the parts of my character that make me me. The part where I love meeting new people who come from different places and the part where I love to discuss things that people are otherwise hush hush about. I doubted myself and questioned my own abilities, on the basis of other people’s expectations. The self-made rules that people decided to inflict on others. It’s almost embarrassing to think I lost myself at the comments of others. But I’m glad I did. I bounced right back. I took hold of my own life, and realised my own worth.

I had always been self-sufficient, so for me to suddenly feel so alone and helpless was a big thing for me. I worked out what it was. I didn’t have confidence in myself, in my abilities. The same person who was willing to sleep 5 hours daily, to dedicate time to studying and working, felt dumb and questioned whether she had it “in her” to become a medic. The same girl who was known for her crazy style dressed down and wore generic clothes that everyone else wore, just to avoid comments and complaints. That was not me. That was not who I was or am. It was a time in my life where I replaced hopefulness with worry, self-assurance with self-doubt. If it taught me anything, it was that only I could save myself. I was the only one who could remind myself of all my achievements, my success, my abilities and above all, my worth.

Our worth, or what we see it to be, is parallel to how others will treat us. Women in controlling relationships only let it last so long because they believe that they are worth that amount of love and respect. Women who work more or earn more than their men (without choice) are equally reflective of the love they think they deserve. This is the same for men, however women are more emotionally vulnerable and tend to settle for less, or think that they do not deserve all the love and respect in the world. Considering some women can be gold-diggers, money hungry or simply like male attention — that does not mean men have to give women what they want, whether they are or are not. Women and men both, should be self-sufficient. Their partner or friends and even family, should only add to their life, rather than complete a missing part. Depending on someone emotionally is one of the hardest things to get out of, but once achieved, it can feel like the world is in your hands. The moment we let someone treat us like dirt, or use us, or even waste our time — we are claiming to be worth that and only that.

Everyday, even if it’s once or even if you require it more than once, love yourself. Unconditionally, without any barriers. Whether it’s checking yourself out, writing a list of your achieved goals or simply just valuing yourself as a living, surviving human being in this horrid world. Whether it’s simply appreciating yourself, your efforts and something good you did. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a good person or feel like a good person. We are taught not to brag to others, but we can brag to ourselves in the mirror if it makes you realise your worth. When you feel like a rubbish dancer, or an awkward actress or a bad friend — remind yourself of what you are worth. One self love a day, can take all that anxiety of having to fit in or change. We hate ourselves and then beat ourselves up for behaving in a way that doesn’t suit others. We let people abuse our trust, use us for what we’re good at, only to be back to square one of feeling alone and worthless. Take a hold of your life and do not let go for anyone or anything. Build yourself to where you want to be, who you want to be. If the people you love care enough, they will follow. If they feel threatened or disheartened by your success, they don’t deserve to share the happiness with you, let alone the experience.

It has taken me a long time, and will probably still take a while, to achieve a sense of self love. To remind myself of how hardworking I am, how much love and dedication I put into things when I see a chance for change. I remind myself that I was all alone and only had myself, and I picked myself up, I shrugged off the comments and I worked on myself. I can be so bitter at times it scares me, yet I wake up with the mindset to stay smiling and make others smile. No saint, no devil, just human. Learn to look in the mirror and see a bunch of good deeds instead of a perfect nose or flat tummy. It works for me, hopefully it’ll work for you too.

One self love a day, keeps the anxiety away. Trust me, I tried.

Haajarah Hussain

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