Monday, November 2, 2015

On Being Your Own Best Friend

Treat Yourself the Way You Want Others to Treat You


I've had quite a few conversations on this topic over the past couple of weeks, each stemming from different aspects of our daily life that we don't even realize that we do. It's true that we are our own worst critics. We say and think things about ourselves that no one would ever dare tell us. And we pass it off as self-deprecating humor. 

"I'm a mess" is my favorite thing to say. If I do something wrong or if I'm doing something particularly slow, my go to excuse is that I'm a mess. It's easy, it's cute, it always makes somebody laugh. It seems harmless. But I literally say it every day, sometimes twice a day, even three or four times a day. How many times can I say this to myself before I become numb to it and start believing it? What if I was saying something worse than the vague term "mess," replacing it with something about my appearance or pinpointing something about my personality? How many times can you say something about yourself before you start believing it and living out your life with that knowledge?

Along the lines of the phrase "I'm sorry, I'm a mess," I also find that I say "ignore me, I'm stupid" far more often than I should. Now, I know I'm not stupid. I'm a smart girl who makes mistakes, like any normal person. But I'm constantly belittling myself and my own intelligence just because I don't grasp something immediately or need to ask questions or just plain do something wrong. If I constantly berate myself, am I just giving other people the opportunity to do so? I'm not beating them to the punch, I'm giving them a basis to criticize me because they think it's okay.

One of my friends said a classmate of hers jokingly said that we all hate looking at ourselves. I sunk down so low into my chair when a video of me talking about my blog was presented during a class once. I hate the sound of my voice, I hate hearing myself talk about things when it's not just in a casual conversation. I don't want to see myself on the screen, ever, for no other reason that pure insecurity. I looked fine that day, what I was saying wasn't particularly interesting but it also wasn't embarrassing. But I just didn't want to watch myself do it, for whatever reason. 

I think I've talked about this part of an episode of The Mindy Project before, but I think it's too important not to mention again, especially in this post. Basically, Mindy is feeling insecure about herself in her state of pregnancy. She's wearing tracksuits as opposed to her glamorous and eccentric style. She instills the help of her co-worker and her co-workers cousin to help her get through this period of insecurity. There's a point where one of the girls asks Mindy to look in the mirror and talk about herself. She completely rips herself apart, like many of us do on a daily basis. 

The cousin makes a point that stuck with me since the episode aired. She said, basically, that Mindy would never say that to her best friend, so why would she say it to herself? We are our own best friends, we should treat ourselves the same way we'd treat another close friend.

I would never call one of my friends a mess, or stupid, or ugly, or fat, or worthless. I would never in a million years utter those things to them, so why in the world would I look myself in the eye in the mirror and think those about myself? Why do these hurtful things become acceptable when I'm saying them about myself?

The other day, my friend showed me a side-by-side picture of my during October of my freshmen year of college and a picture I took back in August. The differences were crazy, not just in looks, but in my facial expressions. My smile was forced in the first photo, I didn't look happy. It was weird looking at myself back then and I was remembering how I felt in that moment. I noted how miserable I used to be. Hating myself was exhausting.

She asked me how I learned to stop. 

I said it just happens. You sort of wake up one day. It could be a Monday. It could be a Saturday. And you realize how futile it ins to be your own worst enemy. And things don't change like magic, but you stop staring in the mirror and psychoanalyzing your ever nook and cranny and action. You little by little start complimenting yourself and taking more selfies and putting yourself out there. And it's not perfect and sometimes you regress a little, but slowly but surely you learn to become your own best friend, even if you have some of your own. It's a process, but it's worth it. It's so, so worth it.

*listens to "Love Myself" by Hailee Steinfeld on repeat for the rest of the day*

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