Guest Post | Learning to love myself

by Rachael O’Connor
My baby sister and the light of my life.

Join us in a series of posts exploring our experiences with mental health issues, as both individuals, a family and women in 2017.

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Written in the early morning on three different days, deleted, then written again and finally now being posted…

Self-love is the key to seeing beautiful things and most importantly, to recognising yourself as one of those beautiful things.

A tall skinny blonde, blue eyed girl with legs to the ceiling of course, should find it easier than others to love herself, you might say… That judgement is created by the impressions of the media, basically forcing a view that being tall, white, skinny and ‘pretty’ is perfect. That conception is just a false image because I tell you, though you could say I fit into that ‘perfect’ image, this is a girl who is war torn with scars and marks from mental abuse within herself.

The media fails to mention that behind every face they put up, you don’t see the person between the makeup or the photoshop. All you see are those ‘perfect’ images of ‘perfect’ people who appears to us as the epitome of attractiveness and happiness. But it’s not real, it is just an image… we know that. Yet that image, is what everyone looks up to.

-x- Never judge a book by it’s cover -x-

People literally only see an outside image before they make a judgement as to whether they like that person or not and that’s exactly what the media has taught us to do since we were children. We’re so focused on appearance, it doesn’t matter what is going on behind the face. It is like looking at the front cover of a book and not caring to actually open the book and read through its pages. It teaches people not to care for the feelings of the person behind their image. It teaches them not to even think there’s a person behind their image in the first place. That person could be the best person you’ll ever meet but you turned away because their face didn’t fit those ‘perfect’ images in your head.

What we need to understand and recognise, is that this conception we have of beauty and happiness, changes the reaction and reception we have towards ourselves because we don’t then fit those standards.

-x- Be your own friend -x-

When I slowly started to love myself it was like I had a new friend. We make friends because of how that other person makes us feel.

Do you think your friend is beautiful? I bet you do.

Well that was what it was like, but with myself. That blonde girl looking back at me in the mirror became my friend. Things got easier from then, facing big life changes with yourself as a friend, I tell you, makes it a whole load easier when you face those scary life things. Just like a best mate, who you would encourage and be there for… that’s who I became for myself.

Over time, I’ve had ups and downs and those images of the perfect appearance came back into my head a lot, but those were the nights I whispered to myself with comforting words, messages of how strong I was for all that I’ve overcome. And that was when I realised how important it is to focus on what was beyond my skin, beyond my own image, because that was where my friend was. My skin just became my home instead of an image. It was my vessel to be on this earth and all of a sudden, once you’ve realised that, you fall in love with yourself.. love you would feel towards a sister or your mother.

It’s not always as perfect as this may sound, but there are moments it is and it is truly wonderful to smile so brightly at yourself. The day I started loving myself, the day I realised self love was loving you for who you were and how you treated yourself, it crafted how I saw my outside appearance, as now I know what my skin holds inside. It made me see clearer how other people were beautiful too. Image is not what makes you beautiful, it is youย whoย make’s you beautiful.

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