We are taught from a young age that other people’s opinions matter, usually a lot more than our own opinions matter. We grow up seeking approval from our family, our peers and our love interests. We chase the validation of others because we believe that the way they see us is so much more important than the way we see ourselves. We exist in relationships where our worth is dependent upon the way we are treated. The love they give us, the words they spit from their mouths like poison in arguments, the times they say nothing at all. We internalize it. We own it. We use it as our truth. We use it as evidence that we don’t deserve more. But we owe it to ourselves to stop this narrative. In fact, here are six things all of us need to learn:
1. No One Can Determine Your Worth
Not the girls at school who told you were too fat or too thin, too smart or too stupid to be their friend. Not the boys who consistently treat you like crap because they’re worried you’ll only figure out you’re too good for them and leave, not the family members who question why you haven’t landed your dream job yet or got engaged yet or managed to secure a mortgage yet. None of that matters, what matters is how you see yourself. What matters is what exists in your heart and if you know that to be golden, then you have to stop letting others pick at you and pull you apart.
2. Comfort Is Not A Reason To Stay In A Shitty Relationship
Comfort is warm and safe, and a trap. Comfort can make us lose touch with what we really desire and deserve. Sure, comfort means coming home to the same familiar house, with the same familiar routine, sleeping in the same familiar bed with the same familiar body beside you. But if you’re coming home and choosing your onesie and a milky drink and Netflix over conversation, that isn’t comfortable, it’s a rut. It’s settling. You deserve to come home to a home-cooked meal on the table by candle-light, you deserve to be picked up from work and whisked off somewhere you have never been before. You deserve someone who wants to listen to every detail of your day, even the mundane parts, even the parts when you were not your best self and snapped at a colleague because you were exhausted and stressed. And you deserve someone who isn’t going to tell you what you should have done better, what they would have done; you just deserve to be heard. Comfort isn’t happiness, it’s just practical. It’s safe. It’s two people who have stopped putting in the effort because the spark just isn’t there anymore, it’s two people afraid of seeking something better because the unknown scares the hell out of them but on the other side of that fear, who knows, maybe you’ll find some magic.
3. You’re Allowed To Shut Yourself Off From The World Sometimes
With Whatsapp and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, it is so easy to find yourself glued to your phone screen rather than actually living in the moment. It’s so easy to feel as if you have to reply to the group chat with its 400 messages or your friend who is in need of some advice right away. We have gotten to the point where we feel guilty for having some “me time”, where we are afraid of our battery dying or losing signal, where we have to constantly post photos of a fake happiness just so everyone else feels jealous. We have stopped listening to what we need mentally and emotionally and giving ourselves that alone time to just rest, recharge and process. You are allowed to turn your phone off, you’re allowed to not reply until tomorrow or whenever you feel up to it. You do not have to talk about every little thing you are feeling, you are allowed to just be on your own and try to untangle your thoughts by yourself. You are allowed to be out of action on social media because in reality, it isn’t the end of the world if you lose a few followers, what matters is losing yourself. What matters is not listening to what you need. Go for a walk, leave your phone at home, put your music in but turn your notifications off. Have a hot bubble bath with your favorite book and sit in your favorite place and have a cold glass of wine. Stop looking outwards at the world and how you present yourself and how others perceive you. Listen to the voice inside your head, it needs to be heard.
4. Numbers Do Not Define You
The number at the top of your Instagram grid does not define you, the number of likes on your latest photo does not define you and the number staring back at you when you stand on the scales does not define you. We spend so much time valuing ourselves and our worth based on numbers and percentages but they don’t mean anything, not in the grand scheme of things. Your number of followers does not tell anyone about the kindness which exists in your heart. The number of likes on a photo or a status does not define how funny you are or how beautiful you are. The number on the scales doesn’t tell you how great you look in that gorgeous little black dress, it doesn’t know anything about the number of men and women who look at you in awe, wishing to be you and have you. We need to stop using numbers to validate ourselves, to tell us what we should eat or what to wear or who to be. Numbers are simply just numbers, but who you are and how you love and the way you scrunch your nose when you smile and throw your head back when you laugh, that is the real substance of who you are. That’s what matters.
5. Comparing Yourself To Others Is A Form Of Self-Harm
We are all guilty of this; comparing our bodies, our lives, our financial situations and our relationships to our friends and to strangers on social media. We compare what we know to be real to what others want us to believe is real. We spend so much time wishing for what others have and not appreciating what we have ourselves. We use it to torture ourselves, pull ourselves apart, and hate ourselves. We use it to define who we are and what we deserve, and that’s a form of self-harm. So what if you aren’t married yet, so what if you aren’t squeezing into size 6 jeans. You have a successful career and you are surrounded by wonderful friends, and maybe someone out there is looking at you and craving what you have. We need to stop beating ourselves up for not having what we think we are supposed to have and just enjoy the things we do have.
6. Nothing Will Change If You Don’t Change It
This seems like such a simple statement and yet so many of us still refuse to see it, maybe because change is so scary. If you are unhappy in your work or your relationship, or any other part of your life then you can change it, but only if you actually put your words and thoughts into action. Stop letting fear paralyze you. Yes, your application might not be successful. Yes, you may leave your relationship and find yourself alone and unhappy. Yes, so many things could go wrong but what if they go right? What if this part of your life is just something you will look back on in years to come and think, “How in the hell did I survive that?”You did because you’re strong and you will change it because you’re strong. You can do so much more than you allow yourself to believe you are capable of.
Sweet girl, you’re capable of anything.