I’ve been guilty of letting my worth be defined by my relationship status (or lack thereof) in the past, but not anymore. Guys will come and go, but I’m always amazing — and I never want to lose sight of that. After all, if I’m not happy with myself, there’s no chance of ever being happy with a guy anyway. It wasn’t easy, but here’s how I developed my self-worth:
I got to know myself.
The very first thing I had to do to start building my self-worth was get to know myself. What causes did I believe in? What were my political beliefs? What did I want to do for a living? It sounds simple but it actually wasn’t. Like so many women, I’d started taking on everybody else’s point of view instead of developing my own, so learning to think for myself and explore what I liked, thought and felt was a lengthy process.
I pushed myself to be open to new and different things.
Getting to a stage where I had a firm sense of who I was as a person took some time, and there’s no way it would have happened if I hadn’t been open-minded. Being open to new or unexpected opportunities was a huge part of developing my self-worth. There’s no way that I would be the woman I am today if I hadn’t joined the rowing team when I was 18 or gone to parties when every fiber of my being wanted to stay home with a glass of wine and a book.
I prioritized my friends over romance.
There’s not much else to say here. Friends are crucial. My friends have always been my support system, my cheerleaders, and my second family — and I’m theirs. It’s so easy to lose sight of that when a guy comes around, but I refuse to let it happen. Keeping my BFF as central figures in my life not only helps me maintain my sanity, it reminds me of my worth.
I started spending more time with my family.
This was pretty easy since I love my family and being around them is so much fun. If anything, I probably should have spent a little less time with them! Not everybody has a great relationship with their families but I do believe that everybody should make time for them. I may not have been able to choose my family but I’m glad I got them. They keep me grounded and remind me every day of the importance of striving to be the best I can be.
I found a hobby and got good at it.
It’s different for everybody, but there’s always something that will make a woman feel skilled and powerful. For some, it’s running; for others, it’s crafting. For me, it was pole dancing. For years I went to pole dancing classes twice a week and it changed my life. When I first started, I had zero arm muscle and would watch wide-eyed as the instructor threw herself around the pole. Every time I learned a new skill or reached a new milestone, I felt this surge of adrenaline and a real belief in my strength, power, and value.
I stopped wearing makeup.
Part of the validation I got from guys was feeling beautiful. I wasn’t convinced I was all that attractive, so it helped to have someone (other than my lovely friends) telling me that I was. In order to see myself as everybody else did and feel beautiful, I stopped wearing makeup. I still dressed up for a night out, but I stopped wear makeup every day. It was life changing. It took a while, but eventually I began to like the way I looked without it. I was also surprised that a lot of girls were really excited for me when they found out what I was doing. They respected that I was working on myself.
I learned my value.
It might sound cheesy or even a bit needy, but I did this by asking my friends and family what they like and admire about me. What am I good at? What makes me special? I’m sure it seemed a little arrogant at first, but when I explained why I was asking, they were only too happy to help. Hearing that feedback was really enlightening and made me feel incredibly loved and valued.
I trained myself to believe that value.
This was the toughie. Understanding my value was easy, but believing it was another thing entirely. I wish there had been some magic formula to make it stick right away, but what it actually took was time and concerted effort. Over time, I slowly (very slowly) began to believe my value and started to own what an amazing woman I am. I think self-confidence looks good on me (as long as it doesn’t tip over into arrogance).
I trusted myself.
Trusting other people is hard enough; trusting myself was almost impossible. I’m the kind of person who takes 30 minutes to decide what she wants for dinner and then gets food envy over what I didn’t choose. Trusting myself to make major life decisions? No chance, but I had to. Trusting myself is a huge part of building self-worth and not being reliant on men.
I put my trust in the universe.
My boyfriend and I met when I was working on developing my self-worth. He says that what he found most attractive about me was that I didn’t take any crap from anybody and I knew who I was. At the time, I had no intention of entering a relationship b,ut I could do it because of all the work I’d done alone. I knew that I was the woman I wanted to be and that I could love him while remaining true to myself. That really was the key.
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