This Free to Spiel guest feature has been written by the fantastic Janie, creator of @theselflovelist on Instagram. In her piece, Janie talks about certain life experiences, from bullying to breakups, and how they have played a huge role in her self-love journey.
My favourite bit is where Janie writes: “I tell myself that it’s okay to make mistakes sometimes, as long as you go back and fix it” – I had never thought about it that way before!
“…my attitude towards myself and the world has changed drastically since I was a kid”
I grew up with no self-esteem.
My parents always told me that I was amazing and could do anything I set my mind to, but then I went to school.
A bigger girl, our school uniform was this hideous yellow shirt and brown trousers, and we weren’t allowed to have our hair down. I felt self-conscious the second I stepped through those doors.
I was bullied, which continued into secondary school; oddly, I was bullied for wearing makeup and for actually trying to look attractive. The bullying was so much so that I stopped wearing makeup. Even now, wearing makeup makes me feel awful – as if I’m not being myself or that people are going to look at me and laugh, so I don’t wear it. I paint my nails every now and then, but it’s only to stop me from biting them.
Whilst my attitude towards myself and the world has changed drastically since I was a kid, and I’ve grown up a lot since school, a lot more has happened that hasn’t exactly helped. This includes my confidence being affected by relationships, studying the wrong subjects, moving to different places across the country, and job roles that aren’t exactly designed for young girls who struggle with people being mad at them.
“…when pushed, I roll with it rather than getting buried by fears, doubts and insecurities.“
I haven’t exactly had a ‘moment of change,’ a point in time where I’ve realised and permanently stuck to the idea that I’m actually worth something and can do anything right. However, what I have had is moments where I feel like I’ve broken through the wall and can see myself more clearly. These are the moments where I grow.
A lot of the time I feel like a tower that’s made up of stories. Not all of the stories are happy or pretty, but they pile up to something significant and keep going – even now, they continue to pile up.
The first of these stories was my first proper breakup, which happened about 2 weeks before prom, though I had been thinking about ending it for a while. My girlfriend and I had already co-ordinated outfits and I’d bought the tickets. However, during a sleepover with some of my friends, they started talking about how I wasn’t alone in wanting to end things. It was at this point that something clicked in my brain, and I broke up with her on the spot via email.
This breakup was the first courageous thing I had ever done. Doing it over email may sound mean, but it was mutual and we’re still friends to this day, so I guess you can say it worked out. That night also proved that I’m a strong, impulsive person, and that when pushed, I roll with it rather than getting buried by fears, doubts and insecurities.
Since then, I’ve experienced more and more moments of pushing myself to be brave and say how I feel, rather than worrying about disappointing that other person or that I’m going to regret whatever comes out of my mouth. I know that I’ll always regret not saying something, and that it’s always better to know that you tried rather than keeping your mouth closed and being left wondering ‘what if?’.
“I tell myself that it’s okay to make mistakes sometimes, as long as you go back and fix it.”
I’ve never really decided once and for all that I want to change, as I actually love who I am. I choose to fight against my doubts and insecurities, instead focusing on the parts of myself that are truly great.
As for the parts that aren’t? I remind myself that nobody is perfect, and that I’m still growing and learning. I tell myself that it’s okay to make mistakes sometimes, as long as you go back and fix it. I still have days where I feel as if I’m drowning in negativity, but I actually come out of those days feeling more positive and motivated to keep going.
I’m still self-conscious, but I fight against it every day. I love my body, even if it’s not ‘perfect’: I have cellulite, a round stomach, jiggly thighs and stretch marks, and I get spots a lot. When I say makeup makes me feel awful, I mean it – it makes me feel like I’m pretending to be someone I’m not. It makes me feel hidden, which I never want to feel like.
I’m still fighting to stay positive and keep on a good path, which is why I have created ‘the self-love list’ and write down everything I want to do to be fully confident in myself.
My tips are helping others as well, with my main piece of advice being for people to write their thoughts down. I find that having thoughts just floating around in my brain weighs me down ridiculously, to the point that I sometimes develop a headache. When you write your thoughts down on paper though, it feels achievable – as if one day you’ll be able to draw a line through them and know that you’ve succeeded.
My second tip is to always remind yourself that the bad things you hear about yourself in your head or out loud aren’t you. After all, you decide who you are; I recommend choosing the good bits, as there are way more of those than the bad bits!
Thank you Janie, for sharing your story! Readers can connect with the author via Instagram (@theselflovelist).
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