Learning to Love Yourself


Erin Kemery, Artist & Photographer

            Being single on Valentine’s Day is tough, for those that haven’t been in a relationship for a while and for those that have just come out of a relationship. It can be hard to see all of the advertisements for chocolates and teddy bears, gifts to give to your significant other, when you don’t have that person. However, you don’t have to have someone to love you in order to be loved. You can love yourself, for example. Self-love, I’ve seen, can be the hardest thing to achieve. Feelings of self-worth and validation can be received through a relationship, but it’s time to be independent and know your value. You don’t need anyone else; all you need is yourself.

            Understanding who you are is the first step to loving yourself. Doing what makes you happy is a starting point. Invest in your hobbies and take time for yourself. Hanging out with friends is nice, but we all need our “me time” to be able to unwind. Whether it be drawing, reading, singing, writing, practicing for a sport you play, or any other activity that you enjoy. The more you do it, the more productive and happy you feel. It can be hard to find the motivation to do even the things you love to do during this time. 

            Feelings of loneliness, sadness, despair, self-doubt, and especially self-hatred can really bog you down. But there’s a trick to combating this. Do one small thing. It can be a task like a chore you need to do, or it could be something hobby related like getting an extra rep in your workout (or doing your workout at all) or adding the finishing touches to a piece of artwork. As long as you do one thing a day, you will feel productive, and in turn, proud of yourself.

            Pride in yourself can lead to confidence, which is a big key to learning how to love yourself. Having confidence in one’s self can easily be faked, which can be unhealthy, but it can also lead to true confidence. I’ve learned that by looking in the mirror and giving myself a compliment, even if I don’t mean it, boosts my confidence. It can be a specific compliment like “your hair looks nice today” or “your eyes look really pretty in this lighting,” or it can be a vague one if you’re not that confident that day such as “you’re attractive.” It can be as simple as that, “fake it ‘till you make it.” 

            Not putting yourself down and instead praising yourself when you do something good is just as important. Being critical of yourself can lead to self-hatred. Sometimes being critical can be needed as in seeking an improvement of some sort. Yet, when you’ve accomplished an amazing feat, and you’re critical of the minuscule bad things instead of looking at the bigger, greater picture, you won’t ever feel proud of yourself. Instead of saying “I wish my squat max was higher,” say instead “I’m proud of myself for reaching that max and will work harder to improve.” Practice makes permanent, not perfect.

            This is an obvious one, but be yourself. It can be fine to feign confidence until you achieve true confidence, but only when you are true to yourself. Pretending to be someone that you aren’t can be dangerous to your mental health, and it can make it even harder to open up to people. It can lead to fake friends, fake feelings, and even a toxic relationship where the other person only likes the idea of you. So, although it may be hard to crack out of your comfort zone and be who you are, a good first step is to dress how you want to. Seriously, it really does help. When you dress the way you want, you feel more comfortable and in your own skin, instead of trying to follow everyone else. Have your own style, or if your own style is a trend, make sure you don’t try to latch onto the trend for dependency on what to wear/do. Wearing what makes you comfortable can lead to acting more like yourself, which can gain true friends who actually care about you for who you are. Having true friends can gain the critical true confidence to learn how to love yourself. Validation from others can lead to validation for yourself. But again I stress, do not become dependent on others for confidence or happiness. Independence can be a wonderful thing when you really learn how to love yourself. 

            When you achieve that self-worth, that value, then you’ll never be lonely. You are fine just as you are, and when you realize that, it’s a beautiful moment.