In the world we live in today, we are constantly bombarded with ideas of proposed perfection, of lives that we wish we had, or people that we wish we could look like. #bodygoals #lifegoals #couplegoals #boyfriendgoals, they all swim around in the vortex of our minds as we double tap on that picture and wonder why we can’t have things the way they do.
It’s okay to admire what other people have, to allow yourself to be inspired and to dream, so long as you don’t ever make yourself feel that you aren’t worthy of reaching the levels of greatness that you aspire to. It’s so important to remember that the majority of what we see online isn’t real. It’s all created to look ‘perfect’ and just right in order to send a message, which may be positive and harmless, or promote a brand or a product, which there is no harm in doing, so long as the audience is aware that their senses are being manipulated, which unfortunately sometimes they are not. If I post a picture on instagram, I can promise you that I have spent way too much time looking for the ‘perfect’ filter in Lightroom, I have about two dozen of the exact same shot and even though the one I’ve posted gives me the semblance of some abs, the other half have stomach rolls for days. There’s no harm in posting pictures like that. I do them for fun, I enjoy staging and taking photos and I like the engagement I get to have with my friends and people interested in following along with my life. And don’t get me wrong I follow soooooo many bloggers and travel couples that are nothing but real and inspiring people who are so down to earth and who make some amazing content. Their intentions aren’t to make you jealous of anything they have or to make you unhappy with the life you’re living. It’s to inspire you, to share their experiences so that you feel you aren’t alone, and to allow you/us to be part of a bigger community. And those are the people that are truly positive influences on social media and what make it such an amazing place.
And you’re free to post whatever you want. However, the problem arises when it becomes a way for you to seek validation for something. The moment you give up control, is when you allow other people to have a say in what you think of yourself and your actions. If the internet were to crash tomorrow and we could never use instagram again, you shouldn’t feel like you would lose something by not being able to have people ‘like’ your pictures. The only person whose ‘like’ truly matters, and whose comment should truly influence the way you live your life, is you. But then it’s not even only online, people in your everyday could be making you feel as if you have something to prove to them, as if you’re not worthy of their friendship or their interest if you don’t fit into a certain category of person.
One of the things I do to keep my head in the game and which helps me remind myself that I am enough is based on the idea that I know that it’s okay that I can’t do and I can’t be everything at this moment in time. The minute anyone starts making you have even the smallest thought where you feel like you’re not good enough, like you can’t handle the situation, or that people are making you feel like there’s something wrong with you, take a moment away from everything and everyone. Sit down in your safe place, which could be your bedroom, a bench in the park, a branch on a tree or a rock on the beach, and take a deep breath to remind yourself that ‘I am just a small part of this huuugggeeeee universe that we live in, and that if I am the way I am at this point in time, then that is how it’s meant to be’.
I’m not saying there aren’t things we can change about ourselves. For example, if today you look at yourself in the mirror and think ‘oh man you’re looking a little jiggly on the midsection today babes’, that’s completely okay. We are our biggest critics, but what we need to remember is not to be too harsh. Our bodies and our features are meant to look the way they do, if it so happens that you think you could reasonably change a little something here and there, start going to the gym, change up your diet, get a facial or get your eyebrows plucked. There’s nothing wrong with the way you look, but if it makes you happier, then go for it, as long as it doesn’t reach the point where you’re obsessing over something and it becomes unhealthy or you’re doing it for others or for society. If you want to get a nose job, a boob job, or butt implants, go for it, but don’t do it because at this point in time, the trend is a tiny little nose, massive boobs and a big butt. Remember that superficial trends change over time and that at the end of the day people favour natural beauty above all else. For the longest time I wanted to be at the gym and grow my butt and I wanted to get rid of my stretch marks. If you want to go to the gym and lift weights and get a big booty then you go girl! If you want a popping chocolate bar eight pack abs then boy, go for it! But I realised that setting a schedule to go to the gym every day just wasn’t for me and I didn’t have to do it just because all the instagram models were rocking the curvalicious backsides. If you’re doing it because you’re passionate about the rush and all that gym talk feeling then that’s a different story. My stretch marks are here to stay and some days I forget they’re even there because they’re just a natural part of the things my body has gone through. Yeah having a healthy physique has its health benefits, and I do take care of myself, but you shouldn’t be doing it with the aim of looking a certain way for anyone. In the real world, to give you my personal example, I’ve had amazing guys who were attracted to me not because of my butt (or my lack of a massive one) or my average chest (because there’s nothing exceptional about either one). In turn, I’ve been attracted to amazing guys who didn’t have the first sign of a six pack and who weren’t in the least bit worried that they didn’t have a six pack. Those things fade, and it’s about loving who you are on the inside, every little thing about yourself just the way you are now, before deciding whether any modifications will add anything to your life. Practice self care, nourish your body and allow it to be the healthiest version of itself and your mind will automatically follow.
On a less materialistic note, if you feel like there’s something about your habits that you want to change, for example to start being more patient, or to be kinder to people, then that’s totally something you can learn. You can learn to take deep breaths and you can definitely start smiling more. But the moment you tell yourself that you need to start doing something just because someone else does (like smoking), or that you need to start giving up your morals just to fit in with what others are doing with their lives, then you lead yourself down a dangerous path. Let me share with you something that happened to me when I was growing up. I was always teased for being a teachers pet. Simply because I would always work super super hard and I did all the work when the majority hadn’t and I really felt like they appreciate the effort I was putting in. I liked interacting with my teachers. And although it didn’t affect my self esteem or the fact that I still continued to do everything I needed to do, I sometimes felt like I wasn’t fully integrated because I was conflicted about the way I felt and the way the others made me feel. And now that I’m older and the childhood drama has passed, I realise that it was so stupid of me to feel like that. What else was I at school for if not to work hard, ask questions and interact with the people who were being paid to provide me with the best education. And this is just one experience that happened to a child, there are so many similar experiences that happen in school, at uni, and in life! For a long time in my late teens I felt like I had to do everything to please everyone. I’m a very nurturing person by nature so I always want to help people, but it came at a cost to me. I was doing things I didn’t want to do, and putting myself in situations I didn’t want to be in because deep down I knew it just wasn’t me. And then when I took a step back I realised that being who I was, and sticking to it was nothing that anyone could take away from me and that I needed to love myself and be able to be who I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted. And if people who called themselves my friends wouldn’t stick around, then I realised that they didn’t know me and maybe they didn’t belong in my life at this point in time. One thing that I try to remember, with the aim of being kinder to myself and loving myself, is that although you should try your hardest to fight for the people you care about, if at the end of the day you see the red flags and in your gut you know this doesn’t make you happy, then leave. You need to love yourself enough to be happy with and by yourself, so that you can make room in your life for people who will love you EXACTLY the way you are and who will reciprocate the things you give them. And TRUST ME when I say that those people are out there. And although cutting ties in the present hurts like a b****, you matter and it’s okay to be selfish sometimes.
You guys must know by now, and if you don’t then here it is, I am a very positive person and that’s the sort of stuff I always want to share with you guys. I want you to come to this page and be reminded that it is ok, that you are and will be ok, and that what is happening is exactly what is meant to be happening. But even I need a little boost sometimes.
I was tagged in a video on facebook a couple of weeks ago, and it was probably the most inspiring video I’ve ever watched. It brought tears to my eyes. A women had invited a group of other women into her home to have a chat with them. She asked them to honestly describe what they thought of themselves. The women admitted to having said some horrible things to and about themselves; that they called themselves lazy, fat, useless and good for nothing on a daily basis. And then from behind the couch, the hostess pulled out something magical. She showed each of these ladies a blown up picture of themselves from when they were 5 years old. Their innocent little faces looked back up at them and she asked them to repeat the horrible things they have said about themselves, to the little faces staring up at them. Some were brought to tears by the very idea. If you take a picture of yourself from when you were a child, and look at that sweet innocent face, all you have to do is remember how hopeful you were. Think about all the things you wanted from the world, the dreams you had and the promises that you’d been made about the person you were going to be and the things you were going to achieve. If you could go back in time, would you tell that sweet little one all the horrible negative things you tell yourself now when you look in the mirror? Wouldn’t you want to remind that child that he/she is worthy of all the love in the world and that they were perfect in all of their imperfections? That child still exists inside us all, somewhere, and he/she deserves to be allowed to smile again.
Self-love is something which has to come from within. But it is also something that can be inspired and encouraged. One of my friends said the other day that happiness is an inside job and I couldn’t agree more. You need to start the process. So, about a year ago I signed up to this website and every single day they send me a beautiful new quote. When I open my emails in the morning, there it is, my quote of the day, with words of encouragement about love, life, travel, heartache, pain and depression. The only way to make sure that you have a happy and productive day, is to start it strong, whether that means going to the gym or writing in your journal, and some words of encouragement can go a long way to keep you on track, even if the day throws you some unexpected curveballs.
Finally, I like to think that part of loving yourself is about forgiving yourself for the mistakes you have made, embracing them, along with the things you call imperfections, and putting them down as part and parcel of your experience of life. It’s about standing by your choices and being strong in your convictions. But to do this, I have learnt one important lesson. Don’t get involved in drama and don’t listen to gossip. Children have childish gossip sessions in the playground, teenagers have gossip sessions at sleepovers, twenty somethings have gossip sessions at pre drinks, adults have gossip sessions amidst swaddling their kids and walking down the grocery ailses. Human beings loveeeee drama. The way I’ve decide to go forth is to refuse to know what anyone has said about me. This doesn’t include constructive critisiscm, because that is always welcomed as long as it’s done in a well intended way. But people will talk. If someone comes up to me, and says ‘omg Vadz someone said something horrible about you have you heard?!’ or ‘omg so and so brought you up do you want to know what they said they heard??’ Just stop right there. The moment it starts with a friend told a friend that their cousin saw your sister and she said this or the other then there’s bound to be some distortion in there somewhere or something out of someone’s imagination and it is going to add absolutely nothing to your life apart from stress and drama. I have had the most absurd things rumoured about me and it led to me doubting whether I had done something that I KNEW I had never done. What I’m going to ask the person is whether they believe what they’ve been told, if the answer is no, then that’s all there is to it. I don’t want to hear it. You need to love yourself enough to know that you stand by your choices, or if you know that you’ve made mistakes but that you’ve made amends or have learnt from them, don’t even indulge anything that anyone else has to say about any of it. Love yourself enough to know when knowing something will not be in your best interest, no matter how curious you are. That being said, I’m well aware that it’s easier said than done.
Always remember that your individuality is what makes you beautiful. You are worthy of everything this world has to offer and no-one can ever take that away from you. ‘No one is you, and that, is your superpower.’
Be kind to yourself and I hope that after reading this, you can be inspired to learn to love the person that you were, are, and will become.
Sit back, grab some Oreos, and let’s see what life has to offer us next.