The Truth About Liking Yourself + Why It Matters
A few days ago, I had just come in from a run and was doing my early morning stretch-and-Instagram scroll when I came across this startling image on my friend Sarah’s Instagram page.
In it, you see a young woman on a train. She’s staring into the middle distance and on the wall next to her is a flyer that reads, “In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.”
While I've never thought about it in those terms, I was taken aback by the truth in this statement. I’m a recovering perfectionist and over-thinker. I know what it is to doubt my choices, my habits, and myself. I’m very familiar with that tough inner critic. So the thought of standing up and saying “I like myself” feels terrifying and, yes, a little rebellious.
We’ve been taught that liking yourself or knowing and acknowledging your own strengths is a bit …uncouth. It’s more “appropriate" to self-deprecate when you receive a compliment or act as though all your success and accomplishments fell together with two parts luck and one part chance.
Can’t we all agree that it’s ridiculous?
Liking yourself isn’t about thinking you’re better than anyone else. It’s not about throwing up your hands and saying, “I’m perfect! There’s no room for improvement and I don’t need to work through any of my issues!”
Instead, liking yourself gives other people permission to like themselves, too. It sends the message: “I’m pretty great and so are you.” Liking yourself also shows people how you wish to be treated—you don’t say unkind things to yourself and you won’t allow anyone else to, either. And, yes, in the face of society-supported self-doubt, liking yourself is an act of rebellion—a loving and wonderful one. So, I’ve dug deep and gotten honest about what I like about myself and let me tell you, it was surprisingly difficult to say out loud. It would be much easier to admit to you that I second-guess everything (and drive myself crazy). Or, I would feel much more comfortable telling you that I’m constantly wishing I was tall enough to reach, well, just about anything.
But in the name of this loving rebellion, I’ve summoned the courage to share what I think are my best traits. I invite you to join me and start acknowledging yours!
1. I can get just about anyone excited about a healthy lifestyle (even teenage boys). Enthusiasm and inspiration are contagious and I just happen to be extremely passionate about healthy living. If we’re chatting over coffee (or a turmeric latte), I can’t help myself—I just have to tell you about the new yoga class I’m trying or the roasted root vegetable salad recipe I created or how having a healthy gut can change your life. I want to bring everyone I love on this health journey, and I’m pretty good at convincing people to join me!
For years my teenage sons rolled their eyes and “Oh mom!”-ed me when I’d give them sliced veggies or fresh fruit for a snack, but I’ve since converted them. These days they actually crave healthy food and when they return home from a weekend of junk food debauchery with their friends, they beg for smoothies and roasted Brussels sprouts!
2. I can throw a great party + cook for a crowd without freaking out. I love entertaining and—even more than that—I enjoy making every guest feel comfortable and appreciated. I have a knack for throwing everything together and having it seem effortless. But, beyond the delicious food and sparkling conversation, there is a warm and cozy feeling that my friends and family have when they come to my home—it’s nourishing in all senses of the word.
3. I’m loyal to an almost ridiculous extent. Once you’re part of my life, you better get comfortable, because I’m in it for the long haul! I’ve had some of the same friends since high school and I’ve been going to the same hair stylist since I moved to DC. The same two people who helped me start Kale & Chocolate are still the two main players on my team! And if I think you’re great at what you do, I want to send everyone your way.
Let’s also not forget about my loyalty towards my pups. It’s a toss up whether I am more loyal to my dogs than they are to me!
4. I call myself on my own b.s. You know that friend who will level her eyes at you and lovingly call your bluff? I like to think I do a pretty good job of being that friend—to myself. When my self-care isn’t what it should be, when I’m not getting enough sleep, or when I’m straying too far from my true intentions, I have a serious conversation with myself and zero tolerance for my own excuses.
5. I can cook without a recipe. This is one of the things that I appreciate most about myself. Why? Because as someone who has struggled with self-doubt, it feels like such an accomplishment to be able to get in the kitchen and trust myself to cook intuitively and whip up healthy, delicious meals for myself and for my family. And trusting yourself in one area of your life flows easily into trusting yourself in other areas!
6. I’m pretty fit. This one was harder than I’d like to admit. It’s so difficult to say nice things about our physical appearance! It feels awkward and certainly not what we are accustomed to doing.
But that’s not what this post is about! So, as uncomfortable as it is to type this out: I’m in good shape. Did you know that I’ve run five marathons? And that my personal record is a 3:41 at the Boston Marathon? I still run, but now I like to mix things up. I challenge myself to stay as fit as I can, without getting too hung up on numbers or measurements.
7. I’ve got nice eyes. My eyes are one of my favorite features. They’re big (like my mom’s) and brown (like my dad’s) so they’re a family reminder every time I look in the mirror. Though they might be surrounded by a few more smile lines than I’d like, I come by those smile lines honestly—by sharing lots of laughs with my friends and family.
Now it’s your turn. If it feels strange or difficult to name what you like about yourself, I get it! Let me leave you with one of my all time favorite quotes from Louise Hay: “Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”
In the comments below, please join me. Tell me something that you like about yourself. Make it your one tiny act of rebellion today!
Photos by Rosa Loves DC