My 30 Year Journey to Finding Body Confidence and Self-Love
It’s taken me almost 30 years, but I’m finally to a point in my life where I can say I love my body, and even better yet –– I love who I am in my body. After all this time, I’ve finally learned how to love my body, because, let’s face it, it was something I was never really taught.
My entire adolescent years were defined by a number on a scale. My self-worth was also defined by that same number. I’m not going to lie to you and say that those years were easy, or that it’s been a walk in the park ever since, but it has been a continuous learning and growing experience nonetheless.
I struggled with self-esteem a lot growing up, and I struggled to have any love for my body at all. I remember crying myself to sleep, wishing I had a different hair color (natural redhead, oofta!), a different hair type (curly, frizzy hair – whoa!), and a completely re-designed body (supermodel please!).
It makes me sick to think it. I used to weigh myself, on average, 10-20 times a DAY. I became absolutely fixated on the number. I counted calories, skipped meals and overexerted myself in an effort to lose a pound or two. I became a victim of negative self-talk, depression, anorexia, and the whole kit and caboodle of low self-worth.
I avoided opportunities because I had already convinced myself I wasn’t good enough. I painted this ridiculous picture in my head of how I thought I had to look, feel, be, and refused to accept any other version of myself for way too many years.
This journey through self-love has been one that involves decades of shadow work, deep self-reflection, healing, reprogramming, and vulnerable counseling sessions to get to this point where I am now. For the most part, I feel like I’ve come a long way and healed a lot of wounds and scars.
Do I still have times where I compare myself to others, and get a bit lost in depressive thoughts? Of course! I am human after all. But I’ve learned a lot from my journey and am finding myself a lot stronger on the other end of my 20’s than I was at the beginning of them.
What I’ve learned throughout my 30 years
Numbers on a scale don’t define me.
Other people don’t define me.
And neither define my overall health, wellbeing, or self-worth.
I spent so many years chasing the idea of something else, of another kind of ‘ideal’ body type, instead of just focusing on the one I have. Superficial ideas of life used to take over my entire self-perspective, and it’s honestly quite sad to think of all the years I wasted on that mentality. It’s also sad to think of how much of that thinking was programmed into me as a young girl, and how a lot of the times that pressure is only quadruped at school with your peers. There are times I wish I could go back to, but only to tell that part of me that everything is going to be okay, and that the world has so much more to offer than hating yourself until you fit into a size 0 pants.
So what’s the journey been like?
There is no crystal ball or no pair of sparkly red shoes you can tap together to just magically get you from point a to point b in terms of self-respect. The only way through this madness is to confront it, heal it and move on from it. You have to do the work, and break the negative patterns in the way you see yourself and your own worth. You have to find value in loving the skin you are in and the body you’ve been given.
Here are the things I’ve found to be the most helpful for me throughout my 30 year journey.
Time really does heal all, and you eventually start to perceive time, priorities, and things of great importance a lot differently. Sometimes life just teaches you the hard way, through experience. What mattered to me when I was 15, 20, or even 25 greatly differ from what matters to me now.
You grow up, and you start to see reality for what it really is, and not as your hormones direct you. Thankfully this also helps you to stop stressing so much about what other people think of you, as all that really matters is what you think about (and how you see) yourself. Experience gave me confidence that I was never able to find before. My experiences helped me break through layers of negative self-esteem and self-doubt, and learn to rise above it!
Books & podcasts
I have no shame in my game. Self-help books are my favorite kind of books to read. I love hearing another woman’s story, her struggles, her triumphs, the whole process –– all of what made her who she is. It shows that we are all human and we all go through a lot of the same things. It really helps to put things in perspective when you learn about your role models, those you look up to, going through the same self-esteem struggles as you have.
Podcasts have also been life changing for me, and I just think it’s unfortunate that I didn’t discover those until later in my twenties. It can be so healing to hear another person’s perspective. Podcasts I listen to give me a sense of community in the way they engage with their listeners and bring us all together in a safe space on social media platforms.
Books and podcasts help me feel more connected to women, and the unique journeys we go through with our bodies. Being able to relate to others, and feel like they relate to you too, is one of the most empowering feelings. And when I feel a stronger sense of self empowerment, I feel a stronger sense of self-love too.
A supportive circle of family and friends
I’ve been absolutely blessed in life with the most outstanding circle of family, friends, and even therapists too! (Note to self: therapy is nothing to be ashamed about either!) Even amongst everything, I can say that I’ve always been surrounded by loving, supportive, positive people who are doing what they can to live their best life. And in turn this makes me want to give love and support back to them!
It speaks volumes in your journey through self-love, to have a tribe of people there trying to pump you up and cheer you on no matter what. I’m thankful I’ve always been surrounded by love, even when I couldn’t find ways to feel love for myself.
If you don’t feel the kind of love you need in your close circle, you can always find ways to connect with others online and in social media groups. The internet gets a bad rap for how much time we spend on it, but there really are positive things happening in that space all the time. There are supportive Facebook groups these days for just about everything!
I wish I could scream this from every rooftop there is in the world, but self-care is not selfish! Not even one bit. Self-care is absolutely crucial in your journey through self-love.
If you don’t learn to put yourself first then you are just teaching everyone else that you put yourself last and that they can too. You teach other people how to best love you by showing them how it’s done.
You learn what you need by taking the time to figure yourself out and give yourself proper rest and recovery through each up and down you have.
My self-care practice has really developed into a special part of my life that I just can’t do without anymore. I notice such a difference in my stress levels, negative self-talk and overall wellbeing when I am not getting the amount of self-care I need during busy weeks.
Life gets crazier as we get older, but that doesn’t mean that life has to get harder on us too. It doesn’t mean that we have to love ourselves less. It means we need to love ourselves more so we can absolutely thrive!
The key here to to listen to your body and what it’s trying to tell you it needs.
The metaphysical world has helped me see that we are all connected, and that we are all beautiful souls just the way we are. Spirituality has been the biggest game changer for me in terms of my journey through self-love and acceptance. There is no end to what you can learn and discover about yourself when you start to dive into your own spiritual practice. The possibilities for love and healing are endless.
Some of the key things I’ve focused on even in just the past 1-2 years, are things like confronting my own shadows, and learning to ride through my feelings instead of dismissing them.
I’ve also used Astrology and Human Design to deeper understand how my own soul operates, which means both the light and the dark sides of who I am. Confronting your own shadows ultimately helps you heal them and there are so many great tools, courses, and groups to help show you where to start.
One of the best tools I’ve learned is to reflect (or journal) on times when you were younger and specific situations you struggled through, and tell yourself the things you needed to hear back then but didn’t get to. Tell yourself it will be okay and that you are enough. Tell yourself you are loved even if you feel or look a certain way.
Self-reflection helps me to clear out the noise and focus on the positive instead of the negative. The further I dig, the greater sense of connection I have to myself and I feel a greater sense of love for who I am too.
The grass is so much greener on the other side of comparison, self-hate, and negativity.
It feels so great to be at a point in my life where I don’t fixate on numbers or comparisons anymore.
Nowadays, I also say yes to drinks with friends, to dessert on weekends, and the occasional carb overload (because #balance). The rest of the time I choose healthy options for myself, meal prep, workout, and taking the time to learn how to be a better me.
I actively strive to carve an hour out of each day to devote to what I need to feel loved and to feel whole. But that’s just it –– over the past 30 years I’ve learned how to be whole on my own and not through the approval of anyone else. I’ve learned how to love myself again, like I did back before society brainwashed me into thinking I had to be a certain way.
I feel like I finally understand that nothing is worth obsessing over for this idea of perfection. Balance is what I strive for and I know that perfection is a lie we are all taught to think exists. I know now that there will be good days and bad days, and I will make mistakes, but as long as I can still find a way to grow from those mistakes, and love myself through the process, then everything is going to be okay in the end.
I listen to my body – because I love her, and I want to give her the best. If you don’t love yourself, and love the body you are in, it makes it a lot harder to give and receive love with others too.