Confession: I Don’t Love Myself, But I’m Working On It

Confession: I Don’t Love Myself, But I’m Working On It ©iStock/Todor Tsvetkov

I mean, I like myself most of the time, but every once in a while, I just look in a mirror and think that I’m supposed to be better. That, or I kind of look back ten years and wonder if the old me would have been content with the choices and decisions that present me has made. Would I have been happier if I did something different? Maybe I would have been much more successful had it been for one small change. (Then, I spend way too much time trying to identify what this one change would be. Not loving yourself involves a lot of unnecessary mental work.)

Usually these thoughts lead to a dead end. For one, it’s tough to reflect on things that you can’t change. And while none of my life choices have been necessarily radical or life-altering (and I like to think that I usually make solid decisions in general), it’s just completely counterproductive to overthink what could have been. Since, hey — we don’t have time machines handy, and even if we did, we’d likely regret what we did with them. Case in point: Every single movie or TV show that has featured time machines.

If you don’t fully love yourself, you’ll doubt these life decisions even more because there’ll always be something in the back of your head that nags you and says,”This could have been better.” I am very, very hard on myself — I’m aware of that and have been for roughly two and a half decades. I take failures to heart and get overly upset if I think I might have accidentally hurt someone else’s feelings when, in all honesty, they probably didn’t even pay the verbal exchange any mind. I’ve never met anyone that processes things the way I do, but I know I’m not alone.

Trying to fix these things is tough. Do I want to love myself? Sure. The feeling of love has occurred on occasions, and I won’t lie — it’s pretty damn incredible. Maybe it was a party I attended in which things were socially amazing, or maybe I just felt truly content with the way I planned my weekend. But the process of self-love is definitely trickier than you’d imagine, especially since I’m an adult. Yes, I’m using adulthood as an excuse for this one — let me explain why.

Sometimes, issues like self-esteem take a backseat during adulthood. We’re a bit more used to shelving our emotions in favor of getting more stuff done. If you work a busy job, you have to see a project through to the end, feelings be damned. But self-esteem is something that affects us way past adolescence, so it’s important to make time to address the issues that make us feel bummed out. We just don’t. We tell ourselves we don’t have the time for it.

So, yes — I’m definitely working on it. I just need to remember to work on it, and so do you. Even if it involves the weird chore of announcing positive attributes for the first week or two, perhaps hearing some kind words in the morning will start feeling a little more natural. And, I need to remember that nobody is judging me as harshly as I’m judging myself — that’s a tough one, but I know it’s true. While all of the horrible bosses, ex-boyfriends, terrible roommates and crappy bullies have tried to prove me wrong throughout the years, I truly am my own worst enemy. (Surely they didn’t help things along, but they’re in the past, where they belong.)

It’s also important to remember that I’m the one in control of my emotions and feelings. Certain things can boost me up and others can bring me down, but I’m the pilot who navigates how these aspects relate to myself as a whole. Nobody else is responsible for the way I feel about myself. If I’m having an awful day, it’s up to me to sit down and think, “How does this truly affect the big picture, and how can I move past this?” The good news? Whatever it is, I can definitely move past it. I’m way stronger than I sometimes give myself credit for, as are you.

It’s super, super easy to let certain life events define you. They should definitely shape your character, but they aren’t you. It’s just like how you’re not represented by a bad hair day. It’s a blip on your radar, but it’s nothing that truly matters in the long run, so why should I make it a bigger issue than it needs to be? If you’re in that in-between stage of loving yourself and thinking you’re just okay, it’s an important question to ask. Take the card that’s handed to you, and ask yourself — will this truly be important in a week? Will I remember it in a year? Likely, the answer will be no.

So, yes — as of now, I don’t really love myself in an “I deserve a celebration for being great” kind of way, but I’m working on it, since I know I’m stronger than my self-doubt and I’m stronger than the voices that overthink things to the brink of exhaustion. And if I can work on it, so can you — since truly, loving yourself is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.

Karen Belz is a New Jersey native who is currently living in Maryland. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communication with a focus in Broadcasting and Print Media Studies from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. Since graduating, she has written for sites like LittleThings, HelloGiggles, and Scary Mommy and is currently an e-commerce editor at Bustle.

When she's not writing, she enjoys making her phone run out of memory after taking too many photos of her dog. You can find her on Twitter @karenebelz or on Instagram @karenbelz.