How I'm Learning To Love Myself...Well, Like Myself
Last October, I turned 30 years old.
I also had a teeny, tiny bit of a mental break down. A mini meltdown, if you will.
It surprised absolutely no one. I had been dreading turning the big 3-0 ever since I turned 29, for all the usual clichéd reasons.
I was single — in fact, recently dumped. I wasn't where I thought I would be at 30. I didn't have the job I'd always dreamed of, or the apartment I felt I probably should own. Didn't even own a fruit bowl of avocados. All I had to show for the last four years of my life was a bunch of Instagram followers and while I love each and every single one of them, they don't exactly keep you warm at night.
I had taken to hanging out with my psychologist more frequently than my best friends (love you, Jane) until one day, towards the end of one of my appointments, Jane dropped a bit of a truth bomb I'm not sure I was quite ready to hear. "Tully, she said."It sounds to me like you think you're unlovable, or that you're hard to love."
Woah. F*ck, Jane. Way to blow my whole loud-mouth, party-girl, independent-woman-who-needs-no-man bravado out the window.
Of course, I immediately burst into tears. Because Jane — sweet, wise, Jane, who had only recently met me — had hit the nail right on the head. She'd cracked the code I'd been struggling with for 30 or so years and it had left me feeling derailed and lost.
Did I really believe that? That I was unlovable? It would certainly explain a few things . . . like why I kept trying to date emotionally unavailable men who blatantly told me they weren't interested, but who I kept fighting for and pursuing for months after they attempted to cut the cord. Romantic or psychotic? Don't answer that.
No, Jane was right.
These days you can't scroll through your social feeds without seeing something about "self-love." According to social media, health experts, celebrities and nearly everyone else on the planet, it's now more important than breakfast and we should all be doing it — but if you don't even like yourself, how are you supposed to love yourself?
Don't get me wrong, I don't think I'm awful. I've got some great redeeming qualities. I'm a very reliable and loyal friend. I have a pretty switched on brain, a decent sense of humour. I am extremely thoughtful and generous.
So would I grab a coffee with myself? Sure. But would I date me? Probably not. How on earth am I supposed to expect anybody else to want to date me if I don't even want to date myself? This realisation might seem obvious to most of you but as someone who was quite confident (some might say cocky) for most of her adolescence, the sudden realisation that I didn't even really like myself as a person, let alone love myself, hit home hard. And I wasn't quite sure what to do about it.
Do I take myself to a movie? Treat myself to a fancy dinner? I had a sneaking suspicion this was going to be more about looking internally and dealing with some repressed demons. Facing up to some hard truths. And that just sounded like a lot of admin, if I'm honest.
However, as with most things in life, nothing worth having ever comes easy. So I began taking some (baby) proactive steps towards learning to not only like myself, but love myself.
- I got back into my exercise routine. I researched some great meditation, reiki and kinesiology healers (not for everyone but when you've hit rock bottom, you're open to anything!).
- I started eating better. Sure, there has still been the occasional cheeseburger here and there but I was making better choices when I could. Mineral water over Coca Cola. Grilled salmon over battered fish.
- I put myself on a dating ban: no dinners and definitely no sleepovers!
- I started hanging out more with people I admired or looked up to, friends that seemed to have their shit together or were successful in achieving their goals. Surrounding yourself with good people rather than toxic succubi is so important.
- I started to be more honest with myself and my feelings, instead of always slapping on a happy face or pretending everything was OK. Sometimes bathing in your sadness is the only thing that's going to help you deal with it and move on.
- As recently as this week, I decided to go on a drinking detox, because that liquid Band-Aid isn't really doing it for me anymore.
- Perhaps most importantly, and I urge every single person who reads this to do the same, I started being kinder to myself.
We are only human. We're learning and growing each and every day. It's OK to not have your shit together at 30. At 40. At 50 and 60 years old. It's OK to make mistakes. It's OK to stuff up or fall off the wagon. That doesn't make you a shitty person, it just makes you human.
I think perhaps my biggest realisation when I turned 30 was that self-love is a process. You don't just wake up one day, look in the mirror and say, "Hey, you! You're f*cking wonderful!" If it were that simple, the magazine, beauty and fashion industries would be bust.
It's something we've got to work on every day. So go to work. Give yourself a pat on the back and remind yourself that you're doing alright. You're doing the best you can.
And then tell yourself that that's all you can ask for.