It's easy to feel caught up in the tests and tribulations of life. I often feel like I am barely treading water, barely keeping up with the unending work, the unending challenges, and the unending disappointments.
Focusing on the positive can frankly be really hard when it feels like a million things aren't going perfectly. Positivity and optimism can often be associated with a naiveté, and I don't think they should be.
Any person that has ever had some kind of adversity in his or her life (that's all of us) knows that life isn't always smooth sailing. Life can be heartbreaking and sad and really unfair. Life can beat you down into a juicy pulp where you feel like your love and strength are oozing out of a punctured shell. In those broken down moments, it's very easy to feel bad about yourself. It's very easy to feel un-beautiful, not good enough, and like a failure.
Loving yourself, self-esteem, self-respect, these are all things that come with time, patience, and self-acceptance. When we are constantly hard on ourselves, when we are constantly unloving, unforgiving, and not nurturing to our gentle minds and fragile spirits, we lose sight of all of the positive, wonderful, and unique qualities that make us worthy of our own love and the love of others.
Life throws failure and rejection and disappointment at us all the time. How do we get back up stronger than ever? We focus on the positive.
That easy you ask? Well, in many cases, I think focusing on the positive is the starting point to feeling better.
Boy/Girl breaks your heart? Remember why you are better off without him or her. Remember all of the things they did to not deserve your love and time. Remember why you are hot and awesome.
Bad grade on a test? Remember that you are capable and smart. Remember that one bad grade doesn't and shouldn't define your character.
You didn't get the position, job, something you wanted? Remember that if you always got everything you wanted, you would never have anything to look forward to. Remember that when one door closes, another one opens. Remember that sometimes not getting a position or job you want is more about the other people than about you.
Remember to let yourself feel. Remember to let yourself grieve and mourn. Remember to let yourself be sad and upset and disappointed for a little while. And then, remember to get up from the ground, dust yourself off, and remind yourself that you are a little bit stronger, a little big tougher, and still hot and awesome even though things didn't quite go according to plan.
Every morning, I get up, and look in the mirror. I find one thing to love about myself. It doesn't have to be a physical thing. It can be quality or a way you handled a situation or a funny joke or comment you made the day before. It's choosing to find something to treasure and appreciate about myself. It's a way to start out my day in a positive way. It's a way to focus on all of the good things in life instead of dwelling on what I don't have or what I could be doing better.
Focusing on the good things life brings isn't naive or childish. It's mature and measured. It's a way to deal with the pain and hardship in a productive and sustaining way.
At the end of this past school year, I did a project for my American Studies class where I made a short film and did a photo project where I asked 74 faculty and students in my high school to choose one thing to love about themselves. Some choose their laugh, some choose their sense of humor, others choose sillier things.
I asked them this question as an exercise in focusing on the uplifting, wonderful things about our school community instead of focusing on our flaws, perceived negatives, and shaming of our bodies, minds, and friends.
Loving yourself and focusing on the positive is often a mindset choice. You can CHOOSE to love yourself or you can CHOOSE to be hard and down on yourself. Hence, I thought each person participating in my project should CHOOSE to find one something to love about his or herself.
I challenge whoever is reading this blog right now to take the challenge to find one thing to love about yourself. Do this every morning. Instead of feeling sad or not good enough, bask in the glory of your greatness. Bask in the glory of your hot and awesomeness.
Someone recently said to me, "Kate, what's the fun in living a life where you don't live everyday feeling hot and awesome and ready to take on the world? Sure, we all have off days and can't always feel good about ourselves. But living a life where you truly try everyday to feel good about yourself is the kind of life you want to live."
I couldn't agree more. You are hot and awesome. You are loved. You are special. You are great.
Don't forget it.
American Studies Final "I Choose to Love Myself" Slideshow