If you’re reading this, you’re probably weird.
You likely have habits and thoughts that many people would never understand. It’s possible that you feel that your exterior is a misrepresentation of your true self. Sometimes, you might even wish you could be someone entirely different. My hope for the world is that you love being you. But, if you’re like me, sometimes you don’t.
I’d like to tell you that feeling weird is normal. In fact, feeling weird is good. I would even suggest that being your weird self is exactly what makes you lovable.
Don’t believe me? Sounds like you might be in need of a little Valentine’s Day four-step exercise in self-love. Light up a candle (unless you live in a residence hall, in which case sniff some dryer sheets or something), grab a journal for reflection, brew yourself a cup of tea and settle in for a quick trip to the land of loving your wonderfully weird self.
Step one: acknowledge and jot down all the ways that loving yourself could positively impact your life.
Low self-esteem can affect many facets of life; it’s possible low- self esteem is withholding you from academic, social and career opportunities. How is your esteem an obstacle in your life? Is your self-esteem manifesting itself as imposter syndrome? How could habitually validating your skills and accomplishments improve your sense of success?
Step two: start with the small things. Take care of your fundamental needs first.
Prioritize things like sleep, food and exercise as much as you would any other assignment or job. These fundamental necessities will impact your ability to do almost anything else, and neglecting them is likely to exacerbate any existing problems.
That said, if you’re struggling with any of those fundamental needs, that’s an excellent way to focus your energy. Take advantages of local resources if you’re experiencing unhealthy sleeping or eating patterns, whatever that means for you.
Step three: make a list of ugly thoughts you have that bring your esteem down and construct thoughts to replace them.
Jot down things you habitually tell yourself to put yourself down throughout the week. Find a way to replace insults with compliments or harsh criticism with encouragement. Learn how to be a better friend to yourself.
Step four: make a list of resources that are useful for you.
Does your mom give the best advice? Your brother? Your therapist? Know who to call when you need a pick-me-up. Are there any on-campus groups that might help you navigate your struggles? Are there specific friends or social atmospheres that make you feel validated or affirmed? Does spending time in nature help you feel more balanced? Locate your “feel-better” spaces and return to them.
I hope that through these exercises or through other exercises that work for you that you can discern how best to care for yourself during this Valentine’s season. In this era where many students and employees are working long, arduous hours in stressful environments, it is essential that people recognize that their bodies and lives are worth looking after. Self- care isn’t selfish, it’s a necessary part of survival and self-preservation.
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