One thing I try to keep in mind while indulging my modern age craving of social media, is that self love and confidence are interpreted differently by absolutely everyone on this planet. So one person’s definition of self love might be different from another’s. Even with that idea lingering in my thoughts I still find myself struggling to keep up with all these beautiful girls and boys on the internet. I’ve read the expression that comparison will kill you, and obviously not literally, but figuratively I find that to be true. I think in the age of social media it’s hard not to compare yourself to the many people we see share themselves with the world so openly. Finding the balance of appreciating the beauty in someone else, but being able to see that it doesn’t deprive you of your own is an important part of truly loving yourself in this society. Personally, I’ve been struggling to write this particular piece for quite some time, because I didn’t want to turn it into some cliché personal essay on how to “love yourself,” or what “self love” actually is. Because the truth is, no one knows one way to achieve this level of love for themselves, and I’d be arrogant to think I held the answer to it. So please continue with absolutely no expectations, but to read one more person’s insight on self love in the age of social media.
One thing I found myself questioning while thinking of where I wanted to take this piece, is what I consider to be self love and how I might be able to get there one day. I know for a fact that anyone with a mental disorder has struggled with self esteem issues in one way or another throughout their lives. For me personally, I struggle daily. Being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, my therapist told me about the symptoms she noticed I suffer from, one of which being severe self esteem issues. She said I will have days where I’m happy and in love with the person I see in the mirror, and days where I’m the complete opposite. A very common feeling, except I experience it intensely without realizing it until my emotions have fully taken control of my thoughts. So with that in mind, I know that logging into twitter and instagram will either make me feel love and admiration for all the people who look like art, or complete hatred for myself for not being up to par with them. I don’t have a common ground yet, and I don’t know how to get myself there. Usually I just shut my phone off when I feel like I’m beginning to be consumed. With the ways I have let my own self hatred consume and control me in the past, I have pushed people close to me away — which I didn’t want. I began to compare myself to my best friends and felt myself feeling lower than ever. It’s so easy to fall down the rabbit hole when you don’t acknowledge the other side of things. YES, my friends are beautiful people inside and out, NO, I am not less of a person than they are because I don’t look or act like them. YES, that girl on instagram has perfect skin and doesn’t need makeup to be beautiful, YES, I am just as beautiful with or without makeup. If I had just said those things to myself from the beginning, I know my self esteem wouldn’t be where it’s at today.
Self love isn’t only feeling comfortable and proud in your own skin, it’s also taking care of your mind, body, and soul. Things I’ve found to be useful in my recovery, and tending of my mental health, is reading books. Now I know this is easier said than done for people like me who work a full time job and have a puppy to care after; or people who attend school and are consumed with homework and studying, but it is possible. I read on the bus to and from work, and try to read on my breaks if I’m in the right mindset. Reading to me is an outlet to a life that isn’t mine, and not only that, but it also distracts my mind from all of the thoughts that normally consume me. Art is another outlet for me, because while I’m working on a piece, I’m focused on the piece, not the situation that happened years ago that still haunts me. And everyone has their own distractions, whether that be watching YouTube videos, or working out, or listening to music... As long as it helps you, then you are loving yourself.
Self love in the age of social media is not an easy battleground to tackle, but can be very empowering when accomplished the right way. Always remember that sometimes self love is as simple as taking a shower, which can be hard to do some days when you struggle with mental health. Self love is deleting that playlist you made for your ex and blocking them so you can finally focus on yourself, and your own personal growth. Self love doesn’t have to just be feeling confident enough to post that selfie, remember to celebrate the small successes and steps you take towards your journey of empowerment. Loving yourself in a world of millions of beautiful people who are just as alive and successful as you is a radical act of liberation, never forget that, and never let anyone take it from you.