I can relate. I've definitely been in a stage of my life where I felt worthless, undeserving of love and I had a lot of self-pity. And perhaps what made it harder was the fact that I got through the darkest period of my life by myself.
So, I'm here to help--I don’t wish what I've been through on to anyone else so I'm here to make sure no one else has to struggle alone. Because I understand. I know what it feels like. If there’s one thing I aspire to create, it’s a platform, a safe space where young adults feel encouraged to speak honestly about their feelings, thoughts and opinions without being judged, as well as my readers learning from my experiences in pursuit of us all being better humans.
Life is beautiful—there's no doubt about it. When we’re surrounded by wonder, knowledge, good people, excitement and adventure. It's a voyage, so it’s not going to be easy or linear. If you currently or ever feel unlovable, read this.
1) Understand that what you're feeling is valid.
Things are never going to be "just fine". Things will go left sometimes, and any reaction is justifiable. Never let anyone make you feel any type of way for feeling your feelings.
It's healthy and a necessary part of life. I was once what you may call “emotionally constipated”. Expressing my emotions scared me; I could never tap into them.
So, if a situation warranted an emotional response, I would suck them up and keep it moving. Never showed or told people how I felt. Emotions accumulate.
So, on the 10th of December 2021 when I started crying in the middle of a baking class I was taking at school, I was unsure of what was actually wrong. And even then, I knew that I need help and still, I refused to show anyone that I was crying. So, I had a conversation with my head of year, and she helped me realise that me holding in my emotions was doing no good to me. It was draining me (and it didn’t help that I never took breaks).
Don't be like me. Let it out. And don’t pretend-- I would always show up to school with a smile plastered on my face to avoid talking about my feelings and to help others feel good. Know this: it’s okay not to be okay.
2) Take a step back.
This will be even harder if you’re someone like me and always likes to be occupied. I often feel guilty for not doing something productive. But this is our mental and emotional wellbeing—it's no joke.
And taking time for yourself is very productive: it prevents burnout, which from personal experience, is difficult to overcome. It’s better we learn to care for ourselves sooner rather than later. I would recommend taking time away from social media—it’s damaging to our view of the world as it instils unrealistic expectations and ideals for us to meet.
And take space from people you feel you need to. It’s never a bad thing to request space whilst you figure yourself and other things out—anyone who guilts you into keeping them around has no respect for you or your boundaries.
3) Talk to someone.
Discussions about mental health, feelings, identity— they should already be normalised and yet they carry such heavy stigmas. Like me reacting to a circumstance would be deemed "overly dramatic" because I’m a woman. Or a man opening up about his mental struggles would make him weak due to toxic masculinity (which correlates with the fact that in 2020, men were 3.88x more likely to commit suicide than women).
Or even the fact that open conversation about sexual orientation or gender identity being considered taboo in some communities—it’s still, sadly, illegal to be gay in 70 nations. We need to create space for these conversations to take place to establish an inclusive, progressive society.
And never underestimate the power of the truth— be honest about how you’re feeling. I remember when I wasn’t feeling like myself; my mum already knew and made me tell her. I initially avoided telling her out of the fear that she wouldn’t understand, but to my surprise, she got it.
She had a lot of pressure growing up and didn’t always feel like she had someone to talk to about her feelings. It was really reassuring to know that my mum could empathise with my situation and was willing to give me whatever it was that I needed at that point in time. If you don’t feel like you can talk to your parents, talk to a friend or sibling. Anyone you feel would listen.
4) Challenge norms.
For the longest time, I hated my body. It was always those “Oh, you’ve gained so much weight” or “You’re going to eat all that?” comments that caused my body dysmorphia. And a lot of the time, these comments would come from people I hardly knew. And it sucked.
I awoke each day hating myself. Hating that which I had been blessed with and wishing to be different. Constantly looking in the mirror and finding a new imperfection. Then I realised, I'm on Earth to satisfy no one but myself, so I’m not going to spend my one obsessing over what other people think of me.
I love me. I'm beautiful just the way I am and if I don’t appreciate myself and my beauty, no one else will. We’re all amazing, unique, original.
Being the same is boring. So, embrace your curves, your lips, your thighs, your hips, your forehead, your nose, your skin and your toes. Without them, you wouldn’t be you. Don't conform to beauty standards: be bold, be brave, be beautiful.
5) Love yourself.
It’s so hard because there’s so many aspects to self-love and it’s a journey that we’re all still in pursuit of. My main points of advice would be: put yourself first. You’re the main character in your story so treat yourself like it.
Listen to your body: it’ll only send a distress signal if something’s wrong. Don’t ever pity yourself: you need to radiate boss energy because you're incredible.
There's nothing to feel sorry for. And be kind to others: it creates a beautiful world. I also have a ten-step guide based on self-love which you can find here.
6) Channel emotions into things that matter.
The anger, the doubt, the worry, the discomfort--I devoted it to my school studies and this allowed me to get some of my best results of all time. Make yourself proud. By channeling your energy, however, I don’t mean taking your emotions out on other people.
I used to do that, and it strained some of my most treasured relations. Whenever I'm angry or upset now, I leave a setting and go and sit alone so I can work my emotions out, then I can return to where I was, having figured things out within. Don't cease your emotional response and don’t take it out on others. It's not fair to them or yourself.
7) Acknowledge the importance of self-reflection.
It's important to celebrate your successes and acknowledge how far you’ve come. And I'm proud of you. For getting out of bed.
For giving it all another shot. I’m proud of you for it all. It's important to give yourself credit for the things that you've overcome. It allows you to be hopeful for the future and continue to try.
8) Seek professional help.
If it all seems hopeless, talking to a specialist: maybe a mental health nurse/ hotline or perhaps a therapist. They understand and they’ll be able to help you. So below are some hotlines that you may choose to contact if ever you seek help:
And there are so many others. People will always be willing to help you. I promise.
This is in no way me saying my self-love and growth journey is complete—I have much to learn, and a long way to go. I’m still learning to trust myself and my decisions which prevents me from trusting other people. I hesitate to let my guard down which in the past, has cost me friendships.
So, essentially, none of us are perfect. We all have varying experiences in life. But know that what you’ve faced should never be invalidated.
You matter, your experiences matter, your feelings matter and never let anyone make you think otherwise. You’ve got this. I promise things will get better, because with life, there’s hope. And, if you wish, feel free to reach out to me via social media--I'll be more than willing to listen.
I love you—because all of you matter to me.