As of yesterday, I’m 25-years old and it feels really good.
The older I get, the stronger and happier I feel.
As a lot of us do, I went through a phase a few years back where I lost touch with what real happiness was. I was all of a sudden much more concerned with my looks (?) than ever before and I was comparing myself to others all of the time. I thought it was reasonable to wish I was perfect because, how awesome would that be, right, and it’s attainable, right? Perfection would come with a lot of perks and…
*DJ scratch* Enter Socrates, Stage Left.
KNOW YOURSELF, people.
I knew myself then and I know myself now, but for some reason I “let myself go.” I had never been the type of person to get tripped up over my looks!
I like laughing, I love being around funny people, smart people, I like reading and learning and trying new things, I like exploring, I like traveling, I like swimming, paddle boarding, all things outdoors actually; I like music that makes you want to dance and I like lyrics that you can relate to, and–wow, all of these things make me so much happier than thinking about being the prettiest person in a room 🙂
There’s a lot that goes into being happy.
I’ve found that most of it has to do with values and most of it has to do with mentality.
If you want to have a positive mindset, the pursuit of perfection will do you little favors.
Sure, taking care of yourself and looking good is awesome!
I 100% support that. I will always want that.
But! The point here:
I consider looking good to be one of life’s pleasures and would not categorize it under my values.
When trying to build a healthy ego, you have to be conscientious of what your values are.
For those of you who ever feel down about your looks, this list can be specifically for you. For those of you who experience other spats of self-induced “blues,” you might find something you can relate to in here, too.
I’m no pro, but these are the thoughts that, over the years, have helped me build a positive self-esteem, a strong sense of self-love, and a solid list of priorities.
I am far from perfect, but I’m happy and that feels good.
Alright, there’s a time and a place to feel low!
But remember, we create most of our own suffering.
How much of your suffering is self-inflicted?
Here are five things that make me feel free-spirited and liberated. They make me feel pumped to be alive and most importantly, make me want to love myself more than any other feeling I could have about myself. I hope one of these “daily reminders” can help put life into a more refreshing perspective for you when you’re being hard on yourself.
1. When You Were Young
I used to think it was okay to think negatively of myself. (Spoiler alert: it’s not.)
I didn’t realize how much it was affecting me because thinking negatively about yourself is so normalized. We can make lists of the things that we think are wrong with ourselves, right? But–why is that okay? Here’s a big reason it’s not okay:
Imagine the present-day you traveling back in time to meet up with the child-version of you so you guys can sit down and talk together.
Imagine yourself as a kid again. You are super pumped and excited to meet the future you.
Now, imagine the present-day you having to tell the child-you all of the negative thoughts you have about yourself.
I thought about this at the height of my self-doubt and it broke my heart. I thought, wow how did I get here? I mean, when I was a kid–I loved myself!
We all have an inner child, right? I thought about this scenario and I felt so sad for my inner child. Your inner child is your spirit! We protect children by nature, right? Protect your spirit! Don’t say mean things about yourself. You would never do that as a kid!
Why? Because we valued more important things when we were kids. And we thought more about how awesome we were rather than what we were not. And we loved telling people about the things we were capable of instead of thinking to ourselves what we were incapable of. Right?
Be the you that the child-version of you would be proud of. Chase your dreams, laugh easily, look for opportunities to play, be happy.
Okay we got into this a little in Reason #1 but let’s delve deeper into, what I consider, a simple concept.
If you are feeling bad about yourself, then there is probably something you value, that you feel isn’t being lived up to.
So, what is it and is it worth it?
Write down a few things that you want* to value most. Family? Good relationships? Intelligence? Politics?! What are looks compared to these other values? If looks are going to have a place on this list–perhaps you try substituting the word with “health” or “wellness.” Just because I think that promotes a better mindset. Or shoot, leave it on there and be your best looking you, as I’m sure you can–it’s whatever realistically will make you happiest in the end.
Ah, happiness is so multifaceted and different for everyone.
What I’m saying is, do not waste your time being upset over things that aren’t worth valuing. It’s immature.
When it finally occurred to me that making myself feel down about my looks was a waste of time, I already started to feel liberated–free from my own limiting thoughts.
If I find a negative thought about my looks creeping up now, I shake it off instantly because I have much more important things to think about. It takes habit but eventually you see those thoughts coming and it’s like you have an invisible barrier surrounding you that the negative thoughts bounce off of. And then with even more time you get to a point where you’re like… “wow, I haven’t had a negative thought in a while.”
Envision yourself as the type of person you’d like to be and take the steps necessary to become that person.
I wanted to be a person that didn’t let their looks rule their day/mood, so I stopped valuing them. Taking care of yourself and valuing your looks are two different things. If it feels scary to think about not valuing your looks, you may want to think on this.
Good looks can get you places and we’ve all seen it happen. It’s fine! That’s great that it gets people places, right? When people do good in the world, we should be happy for them and not let it make us feel worse about ourselves, right? RIGHT, oh man I’m so sick of people putting other people down in the same sentence that they lift themselves up in. You and I both want you to feel good about yourself! Trust me, I want you to feel beautiful and feel great–I want those things for myself, too! When you put other people down for what they are naturally OR unnaturally, you do so much worse for yourself than you realize.
If someone else has better looks than you (there will always be someone) that’s okay because you are your own person and have other things going for you! If you find yourself thinking, but what other things do I have going for me? Good question, you owe it to yourself to figure that out. You’d be more aware of these things if you did yourself the kindness of focusing your thoughts on the good that you can do rather than thinking about what others can do. We are all different and awesome in our own ways and cheers to that.
Because you’re awesome and a lot of people would love to get to know you.
3. “I’m not perfect,” is not a negative thought.
People are always telling us to be positive or to not think negatively. Don’t let the redundancy of these simple tips devalue them!
I took an improvisation course a few years back with one of the greatest professors/most wonderful people I know. Her name is Shannon Kearns.
In one class session in particular, she talked about how all it takes is one negative thought to ruin you. That one little negative thought, creeps into the back of your head, is allowed a voice, and as soon as that happens, the damage begins.
At first I thought to myself, okay, wow, one negative thought? Cut me a break, it’s one negative thought. Let’s work on getting rid of the multiple negative thoughts and be happy with our one negative thought because, I mean, we’ve all got to stay humble, right?
Wrong! Stop it. No. No negative thoughts about yourself allowed. I look in the mirror, I’m not perfect. That’s okay, I’m not perfect. But I’m sure as hell not going to sit there and waste my time thinking about all the reasons I’m not perfect. Once you are fully accepting of the fact that you are not perfect, it becomes an afterthought.
Devalue perfection, you know? “I’m not perfect,” is not a negative thought!
It’s totally okay and cool to be imperfect! Be real instead. I strongly encourage you to try to be a better person and take better care of yourself every day, that’s great. I’m constantly looking to improve. But my definition of improvement involves things that are going to make me a better person from the inside because that’s what’s going to make me feel better. You know? Help others. Interact with your community. Create art. Play outside. Drink more water. Eat less sugar. Sometimes you need to eat more sugar. It’s a fickle equation, really.
While you’re doing these things to make yourself a happier person from the inside, crazily enough, you usually end up looking prettier on the outside, as well. Just saying.
Or hey, maybe you just need to drink more coffee. Coffee works wonders on me.
4. There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on all of Earth’s beaches.
Say what? I know, hard to believe.
More stars than grains of sand. Grains-of-sand! Have you been on a beach, a small beach at that, and seen the amount of grains of sand on said beach? That’s one beach we’re talking about. Now think of all of them–from Hawaii to Ibiza–all of the beaches in the world and all of their grains of sand.
There are still more stars in the universe.
Matter of fact, five to 10 times more stars in the universe.
And you’re going to be hung up on your own looks? No! Don’t let them make you feel bad, there are so many other things going on in the world, true tragedies!
I want to drop the mic here and go watch Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey on Netflix but I’m committed to finishing this post.
My point is, the world is so fascinating! Our universe stretches on further than our imaginations. Humans have learned so much about outer-space because we are capable of so much more than looking good! Isn’t that lovely? I think that is so freeing.
If you’re feeling down, please, go learn something new.
I’m not being sarcastic, I’m being serious, that’s what I’ve done for so long now and I still do it today.
Feed your mind and I promise you it will feed your soul. It may take time, but it is something worthy of putting time into.
Just because I don’t get down on myself for my looks anymore, doesn’t mean I don’t get down. Nowadays, when I feel any type of doubt or emptiness–I read or I play the guitar. Both of those things really require you to focus and get your mind engaged. Two great factors when looking for healthy distractions. I’m very much an amateur guitarist–so I’m killing two birds with one stone–forgetting about the negativity while getting better at something else.
5. Reality Check
Re-enter Socrates, Stage Right.
What’s really real, guys?
Why are we all here?
I promise I’m not stoned, these are actual questions that I think are important. Especially in terms of feeling good about yourself and feeling whole.
It is TECHNICALLY… a miracle that we all exist. Yes? Because as many ways as people can speculate it happened, not one answer has been proven to be correct. Wow! That’s cool!
Our existence is a miracle! It is really cool that we are living, functioning, breathing things. I mean, can anyone tell me, by definition, what our purpose here is? Popular answers are to survive or to reproduce. But come on, humans are so much more complex than that!
I figure, we just have to decide for ourselves. You, yourself, not the media, need to figure out what it is that is going to make you feel like you have a purpose here on Earth.
We have to be in touch with reality. Deciding that I needed to be more in touch with reality took my head out of the clouds and grounded me.
Learn about the world around you. Take time to meditate (there are a lot of cool/easy/not-weird ways to meditate–there are weird ways, too though and I think people who go for those are pretty awesome, but anyways), take time to meditate means take time to organize your thoughts. When you organize your thoughts, you learn a lot about yourself. Which opens up opportunities for you to understand or improve.
Don’t ignore the news. Sometimes the news makes my insides hurt.
I think that hurt needs to be felt. That hurt is real. Other people are going through much more pain than I have ever or may ever experience. I’m not going to turn my head away because I can’t handle the pain of knowing what someone else has the horror of experiencing. In a world where so much undeserving pain occurs, we need empathy.
When you hurt for real things in the world, worrying about your own looks starts to feel silly. At least, that’s how it works for me.
Months ago, for whatever reason, I broke out with cystic acne on my face. (Whoa I all of a sudden feel like the beginning of a Proactive commercial.) Anyways, yes, painful acne. I thought it would surely go away but instead it got worse and I ended up having to book several doctor’s appointments over it.
It was terrible in that it actually hurt to smile sometimes. Yeesh, I shudder. I never knew how painful acne could be! My point that I want to make here is that if this had happened my freshmen year of college… I probably would have, at some point, broken down in tears and vowed not to leave my bed until it went away. I guarantee you I wouldn’t have left the house without makeup on.
At 24, breaking out with the worst acne I (and probably many others!) have ever experienced, my personality was not affected, whatsoever. I was leaving the house without makeup on more than ever because I was like, oh Lawd, I’ve got to let this skin breathe so it can get better!! I’d be talking to people and could feel them looking at my acne and my thoughts were, who can blame them–it’s so out there! I was able to happily carry on the conversation, knowing that we are conversing for reasons beyond what I look like.
In the past, I know I would have wanted to be in and out of stores, not want to have conversations with anyone, total ghost show until this ish got under control. But now, who cares! It sucked. It really sucked. But all I could do was take steps to make it better and keep going.
Man, I went from talking about the meaning of life to acne. How did that happen? Eh, well.
In conclusion, we aren’t entirely sure why we are here, so why not pursue a life that is full of what makes us feel whole and good?
I feel best when I’m creating. So I’m going to continue to create. I can feel the difference between real conversation and empty conversation, so I’m going to try my hardest to always be present when I’m talking to other people. I want to feel present and I want to feel engaged. It feels good to lift other people up and I am so humbled that I have people who do things to lift me up in my life, so I’m going to stick to that. It feels good feeling good and I don’t like feeling bad, so I’m going to do what I can to avoid the latter.
You should too!
There’s a lot of suffering going on in the world. Don’t be the source of your own!
It’ll all be okay.
These photos were taken in my room by my talented friend, Grace Kim.
I had just gotten about 8 inches of my hair chopped off as a personal birthday gift.
Find Grace on Instagram: @g.race.kim
If you have anything you’d like to share, as always, I’m open to conversation.