My path to self-love

June 3, 2021

text: Emanuela Gavriluta

illustration: Beatrice Pura

When someone asks, "What is your greatest accomplishment?" we tend to list things like getting a driver's license, getting into a college that our parents or others sometimes wanted, we say we've traveled to beautiful places, and coveted, but we don't realize that it takes an extremely long time until "I learned to love myself" is the first thing out of our mouths. In my case, I luckily managed to learn to take deep pride in this at the beautiful age of 21. If the pandemic was a disaster for some and it seems to them that it only came with bad things, I am firmly convinced that for me it helped me value everything at a higher level and especially helped me to work on myself and have more trust in me.

I really started on this path of self-love at the age of 15, when I also had my first really strong depression, depression that lasted for about half a year, mostly because I had a disappointment in love, I found out that my father has a terrible disease, but I also got my first pair of hearing aids, which made me feel more acutely that I am different from other people. I didn't accept myself and judged absolutely every part of me. I doubted my capabilities, I wasn't in harmony with my physical appearance, I didn't think there was anything to love about me. Then the moment I managed to get out of this state was the anger I felt towards myself for allowing myself to stagnate. Thus I decided that I would no longer be the girl I was before, more specifically, I decided that I would come to love myself so much that I would inspire and help others to do the same. I started by paying more attention to my passions, taking more time to accept that being different is actually a bonus. Once I got tired of not having my dreams and love for art supported, I simply told myself that as long as I believe in myself and know what I have to do, that's enough. Because life is not about others, it is about you. 

The road to self-love is a really long and complicated struggle, but the fruits that I still reap from trying to take this state to a deeper level, are really precious. It is not easy at all, the road is strewn with many doubts, much introspection and revelation that can often be unpleasant. This path is represented by fighting with your own thoughts to get rid of an unhealthy mindset that is not good for your self-image, which I corrected by reading both books and articles, but it helped me directly by watching all kinds of videos on youtube, after realizing what those aspects are that I need to correct. Because I admit, I had a pessimistic mindset, I didn't accept any refusal or to know that I can step wrong. I wasn't controlling my thoughts and I was letting my emotions control me. I also used to think that vulnerability meant you were weak, when in fact vulnerability has come to mean the equivalent of strength to me. I struggled with my poor ability to communicate and express my feelings, I wasn't honest with myself about my feelings, I was looking to indulge in drama instead of looking for solutions and being convinced that eventually everything will work out. be well 

Self-love is not just accepting the way you look and the fact that you have flaws, the package includes the war you have to fight with overthinking, the constant comparison you make to other people and the weight you carry to set some limits so that you don't lower your standards and give the chance to those around you to step on your toes, just because you want to keep them in your life. I was friends with certain people just to keep them alive when I knew their presence had no impact on me. So therefore, you learn to give without taking too much and end up being just an empty vessel. That's why when you find the strength to rebuild yourself after feeling lost, you realize that you can't be the same again and you have the feeling that you don't know what happened. But it's important to take away from this period of being lost in order to build a much stronger and brighter version of you. It's when you're reborn as a phoenix and don't let go of that "You've changed." to make you feel stupid, but rather proud of yourself as a person for crossing that threshold that was holding you back. 

I've definitely found that self-love is a process where you take every little bit of yourself and polish it until it shines first in your eyes, you embrace more of who you are without being ashamed or hiding, because you realize what a wonderful person you are just by being YOU. 

The fact that I had toxic people in my life, parents who didn't value me as they should have until I said "stop, I won't let things go on like this", fake friends and too high expectations from some people , but especially facing small health problems only helped me learn not to give up on my dreams and who I am as a person, including my moral principles. As hard as it may seem to maintain yourself, it is a real test of endurance not to give up what you believe in order to please someone else, to behave as the other would like in order to feel fulfilled. 

It revealed to me how important and powerful it is to say "no" to anything that makes you feel uncomfortable and brings you to a dark place that you've had a hard time getting out of. I had to let go of those who wanted out of my life and I finally healed from the fear of abandonment I developed as a child, I realized it wasn't all about me. At 21 I learned a really important lesson: to live in the moment and enjoy every little thing without feeling guilty about past mistakes, without feeling anxious thinking too much about the future or what lies ahead on my to do list, because what's meant to happen will happen at the right time. 

I've come to the conclusion that self-love and inevitably love for life is a courage you acquire the moment you decide to do anything to get out of your comfort zone, even if it means sometimes giving up your pride and asking help those around. I had chances that I turned down and later regretted. Or I got involved but pulled out thinking it wasn't for me, when in fact it represented something that would have helped me enormously, but that too was a necessity to progress.

I had to learn how to be alone and take a break from those around me, including social media to heal myself, I realized that I can't declare that I love myself until I feel comfortable being alone, so not to depend on someone's presence in my life or to let my happiness vary depending on others. 

I have become friends with my own vision of life and my own desires, I am no longer afraid of judgment and criticism because it was extremely essential to understand that it is the only way to grow. 

I've reached a point in life where I can't wait to see what she has in store for me, I only see beauty in challenges and pain, I love them and it just makes me smile to think that I'm getting stronger and getting ready to go to the next level. And for that I needed to find a meaning in life and let myself be discovered to be sure that I don't leave any corner unexplored.  

All I have to say is that if you don't feel like you fit in or can't find your place, you're either in the wrong place or it's time to stop where you are at the moment and start building your own world which others want to be a part of.  

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