What would life look like if I could love myself fully?
I stared at the page for several minutes, unsure of what to say. I had spent so long not loving myself that I couldn’t imagine life any other way. The empty page of my journal felt overwhelming. I began writing cautiously, feeling that my answers were only guesses, and that the way I viewed the possibilities would be wrong. If I loved myself fully, I would be confident, happy, successful, less stressed—so what was stopping me from feeling these things? Thus, began the process of freeing my mind from all previous negativities that I assumed to be true.
All my life, my greatest barrier toward loving myself has been my own thoughts. When I was fifteen, I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. I struggled with my body image and with accepting myself as I was. I had always felt like a bit of an outsider. I was too chubby, too shy, and not nearly as pretty as other girls. I was so bright and full of great potential, but I still felt unworthy and unhappy. To silence the negative voices in my head, I ate as little as possible and exercised far too much. As my eating disorder progressed and my weight dropped to a terrifyingly low number, I gained a host of health issues, both physical and mental. My family convinced me to attend counseling sessions, which began to show me that I could challenge my disordered thoughts.
To cope with the judgmental comments in my head, I began keeping a journal to use as an emotional outlet. Slowly, I began to release my control on counting every calorie that I consumed. When I looked at my body in the mirror, instead of seeing my legs as fat, I learned to be thankful that I had strong legs to carry me where I needed to go. Once I finished a meal, my brain was flooded with feelings of obesity, but I countered this idea with the logic that food would fuel my body. As the number on the scale increased, my eating disorder told me to starve, but I assured myself that this weight would make my body feel so much better. After an endless number of visits to the counselor and constant support from my family, I slowly began to recover, both in body and mind.
After having battled my disorder for three years, I still felt physically uncomfortable. I didn’t know how to navigate food, and I had a very uncertain relationship with it. I began incorporating light exercise into my routine to help give my body the respect it deserved. Still, I felt trapped in my own skin. Once my body had fully recovered and my eating was normalized, I began weightlifting, which greatly helped me to view my figure in a more positive light. Something still seemed to be missing. I was struggling with complete self-acceptance and love.
I decided to take a leap of faith and join an online self-love program called Flourish. While learning to properly love myself, I also learned to question societal beauty standards. Who decided what I should look like, act like or be like? For every way in which I do not conform to society’s standards of what a young woman should be, I feel even more uniquely wonderful. I am proud of my individuality because to be unique is to be human. I am amazing, and I have the freedom to be exactly who I am. I am not too much of one thing and not enough of another.
I do not have any obligation to comply to societal standards of femininity or beauty.
I was born as a beautiful, feminine being.
I am free to be strong, loud, honest, joyful, fierce, emotional, and each one of these qualities is strikingly beautiful.
Flourish created an online group setting with an environment centered around growth and love. I never once felt as though my emotions were not valid, or that I was alone in any situation. Some of the topics discussed were not easy to talk about, but the ladies in the group made contributing feel effortless. It was freeing to be able to share the deeper sides of myself with people who understood. I was reminded that there is strength in numbers, and I was learning just like everyone else. The journey of self-love is one of constant improvement and adaptation, and I am here for the long haul.
The greatest part of learning about self-love in a group was the feeling of empowerment that I got from those around me. I had the opportunity to learn more about what it means to lift others up with your words. I finally began to practice what I preach. From this journey and from the women who joined me, I am learning to truly respect myself. I learned that my past does not define my future, and I have seemingly endless possibilities to flourish. Every day I get a bit closer toward complete self-acceptance, and that is an amazing thing to be able to say with confidence. I am proud to say that I am slowly becoming the woman that I am meant to be.
To my future self,
Hello. I’ve been waiting to meet you, and I know it’s been a long journey. You inspire me every day, and I just know that we are going to be great friends.
To my current self,
You, as an independent unit, are enough. Everything that you need lies within you, if you only dig deep enough to find it. I give you unwavering freedom to love yourself, to grow, and to feel empowered by how much you have changed in such a short time. I am thankful to you for accepting this mental makeover.
To you, reader,
Do you know that you are enough? Are you giving yourself the love and respect that you truly deserve? What does self-love mean to you? I hope that you treat yourself with kindness always. I hope you know that you are beautiful, strong, and courageous. Use the courage that lies within you. Have the strength to love yourself. You deserve it.
You are never alone on this journey. Self-love is not a race to be won. There isn’t a finish line to end at or a deadline to meet. This is a journey that is entirely about you. You deserve to focus on yourself. You deserve to feel loved.
You are loved.
While the journey of self-love is one that never ends, I am now better equipped with the knowledge I need to continue to care for myself through all of the different waves of life. Over the past few years and through Flourish, I learned so much about who I am and how to love myself.
Author: Amber Core
Author Bio: Amber Core is a Junior at The Ohio State University. She is majoring in Human Nutrition, Dietetics and plans to work as a Registered Dietitian. Upon becoming a dietitian, she hopes to obtain her Master’s degree in Psychology and work with those who struggle with eating disorders. She participated in Flourish through Fulcio.
Link to social media or website: Instagram @alien_princess_