There’s a photo on my bedroom wall of me when I was eight years old. In the photo I am smiling alongside my Nanny, Uncle David and my cousin Emma. What I love about this photo is how care free and happy I look. One of the biggest things I adored about being a kid was how little our appearance mattered. I was missing teeth, I had a crooked full fringe and chubby cheeks that made me look like a squirrel with a mouth full of acorns, but I was still smiling from ear to ear.
When my teenage years came around I suddenly became more worried and concerned about how I looked, how others viewed me and whether or not I looked ‘perfect’. I felt the pressure to look like the celebrities that graced the covers of Ireland’s KISS magazine back in the day. I wanted to have clear skin like Taylor Swift, a toned figure like Vanessa Hudgens and wavy, blonde hair like Lauren Conrad. I was hypnotised by the media into thinking that these women were what I should look like. I certainly didn’t look like them back when I was 14. I had acne, dodgy hair cuts and I was extremely chubby due frequent purchases of chocolate donuts from our local shop, the Kokonut. But what I wish I knew back then is that it is okay to have flaws, it is okay not to look like that celebrity on the front cover. I wish I knew what I know now and that is to love who you are.
One of the best things I’ve done in all my 21 years on earth is to teach myself that I am good enough. Like everyone else there are things I don’t like about myself, I’ve got flaws just like every other person on the planet, but what I’ve done is learned how to accept my flaws and to love me for me. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard was from my aunt Joan who told me and my cousins to, “look in the mirror every morning and say I love me.” It’s an easy thing to do, but it makes a huge impact on how you view yourself. You may feel a tad silly saying this, but it’s so beneficial. If you do this simple task every morning you will feel better about yourself and it will give you a positive outlook for the day ahead.
Another tip that helps you embrace who you are is to make a list of things you love about yourself. I often find that when I’m feeling glum I tend to focus on my flaws, so to beat that I list the things that I love most about myself; my curly hair, how my eyes change colour from time to time, my quirky sense of style. It’s a great way to push the negative thoughts away by simply thinking in a positive way. Next time you’re feeling down in the dumps about yourself make sure to focus on what you love about YOU; whether it’s your freckles, the gap between your two front teeth or your pasty pale legs.
Finally, the most important thing that made me love who I am was to stop comparing myself to others. As you scroll through your Instagram feed you’ll see photos that trigger thoughts like, “I wish I was as skinny as her”, “I wish my hair was that long” and “that dress would never look as good on me.” I’ve been guilty of doing this in the past and sadly I’ve witnessed so many of my younger relatives doing this and it breaks my heart. These negative thoughts will destroy your confidence. The best thing to do is to focus on positive thinking and to stop comparing yourself to others. You are fueling self hatred by comparing yourself to others. What you need to do is to focus on the self. Do what makes you happy; wear green jeans every day, cut your short and dye it blue, wear bright pink lipstick to college- do what will make you feel good about you!
What matters most is that you feel comfortable and good in your own skin. Boost your self confidence, don’t be afraid to be who you are and remember to love yourself like Kanye loves Kanye, hehe!
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who matter don’t mind, and those that mind, don’t matter.” -Dr Seuss