For years, I had many insecurities that prevented me from showing my true self. I thought I wasn't good enough at anything. It's a scary thought because I ended up comparing myself to others and wanted to become someone I was not.
I knew I needed to work on my insecurities because if I didn't, they would keep limiting me from doing the things I wanted. I knew it would start deep within me by accepting myself and loving myself more.
Isn't it nicer to focus on self-love instead of insecurities?
Changing my perception of beauty
Looking back at my childhood and teenage years, I grew up in an environment where people have different beauty standards. I got bullied for being thin, for having curly hair, for my big eyes, and my forehead.
There were moments when I would look in the mirror and think that I wasn't attractive at all. I wished I could be like the other girls I admire for being pretty. I even started eating unhealthy foods to gain weight so people don't emphasize my body's appearance.
I didn't like my misaligned teeth, so I avoided smiling in photos that showed my teeth. I got acne, so I felt embarrassed because of it. They even left pimple scars on my face, so I didn't like my skin. I also have a scar on my leg which made me feel that wearing short dresses or skirts won't look good on me.
Then I thought, these are external things that I could work on. I always remind myself that everyone looks different and that each one of us is unique.
I started checking some photos of models or famous people with similar features. And I realized that however you look, you can be attractive and successful at the same time. This thought became an inspiration for me.
Appreciating myself for who I truly am
I started fixing the external insecurities I have control over and accepted the things that are not in my control.
With acne, I focused on skincare routines that are good for my skin. I got braces to fix my teeth.
When I still couldn't accept my natural hair, I would go to a salon once or twice a year and have a hair treatment. The outcome gave me confidence about how I look. But now, I noticed that my naturally wavy hair is pretty. It provides volume to my hair, and it's manageable. I take good care of my hair to make it look nice.
Some people showed admiration in my eyes, so I decided to focus on appreciating it. They're beautiful. I got nice eyelashes too. I'm able to see a lot of beautiful things because of my eyes.
Being petite is also beautiful.
I appreciated the physical aspects that I possess. When I started appreciating myself more, I saw a unique beauty that I have.
I can tell myself now that I am beautiful. And that feels empowering.
Accepting life circumstances
I grew up in a low-income family and was so ashamed of being poor when I was younger.
When I went to a private school, I could see how kids would group themselves based on their life status. Somehow, I felt excluded. I don't usually tell anyone about my family because I couldn't brag anything about it.
I had to work so that I could get an extra allowance. There were moments when I blamed my parents for living a hard life.
Accepting that this was my life's actual situation motivated me to work hard to finish my studies. I didn't have to pretend I had money so others could accept me. Instead, I used my intellect and talents to achieve my goals.
I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering degree and am now working in the Netherlands. It's awesome!
Whenever I look back, I'm proud that I overcame the obstacles I experienced and brought me to where I am now.
Now I can see all my parents' sacrifices to help me pursue my dreams. I'm so grateful for them.
I stopped listening to what others say and think of me
Insecurity can start at school, the playground, work, or inside our house; it can come from our childhood experiences, traumas, and fears.
When we listen to other people's negative comments, we tend to think we are not enough and missing some good qualities. We start feeling small. The worst is feeling useless or worthless.
I constantly lived under the pressure of trying to prove myself and pleasing other people for validation. I listened to what the older people around me would tell me because they said they were right.
But that prevented me from showing up as my true self. I only tried doing a few things I could enjoy because the people around me restricted me from doing them.
It's also not pleasant to hear people criticizing my parents for having children at a young age and trying to raise six kids without a stable source of income. They thought that I would have the same fate as them. And I felt at that time that I was on a mission to prove them all wrong.
Then I learned not to care so much about what others think of me. I shut off negativities and surrounded myself with optimistic people who helped me bring myself up.
I dismantled my old beliefs and slowly worked on what could help me.
I don't want anyone to influence the decisions I make for myself because it's me who will be living it and not them.
I started getting to know myself more
Sometimes I thought I didn't know myself. I didn't know what could make me happy, and I didn't know what I enjoyed doing or what I was passionate about.
Then I met people working on themselves and living life as they wanted it to be. I got inspired because I could see the delight on their faces when they told me about what they were doing.
That's when I decided to get to know myself more deeply. I explored the things that I like and enjoy. I now understand what I think and feel in a particular situation.
I went on therapy, and I had coaching and mentoring programs. I followed people who were sharing their own life experiences and their journey to do what they love doing.
It's a liberating feeling to know yourself and live your life based on who you are. Whenever I have self-doubts, I remind myself about the qualities I have deep inside me, making me feel centered.
I love doing creative works like writing, painting, and designing. I discovered the things I'm passionate about, and it's a fantastic feeling to be able to do them with joy. I also really enjoy listening to music while doing some work.
I'm very idealistic, but at the same time, I take action to make my ideas a reality.
Focusing on what's important to me
Before, there were some pre-programmed goals that others set for me. I used to always think about others' sake before doing what I wanted for myself.
But I came to the point when I realized that it's draining to do the things that do not align with my own life's purposes. So I decided to shift my focus to what matters to me.
While on my journey to self-discovery, I also learned the things that are important to me. Then I started setting goals that aligned with my visions.
I created a vision book to have a better visual of the goals that I want to accomplish. I make plans and set deadlines too. But the most important thing is taking action.
Now, I'm taking the small steps that could help me achieve my goals. It's a process; it's a work in progress. I try not to be so hard on myself. I want to enjoy every little thing I do and celebrate my small wins.
Having a sound support system
No man is an island.
It's essential to work on self-love, but we also need to remind ourselves that it's nice to have someone who can support us.
I surrounded myself with people who inspired me to become a better version of myself daily. I reached out to others who could help me improve certain aspects of my life.
I enrolled in a swimming class with a coach to improve my swimming skills and overcome my fear of deep water. I hired a tutor to learn a new language. I had a therapist to heal myself from past traumas. I got a mentor to help me improve my other skills depending on what field it is.
The support system could be anyone. It could be your family and close friends. Just make sure that they are the people you trust and that you are open to sharing what you're going through.
Having someone support me made me feel that I'm not alone and that it's okay to ask for help.
Loving yourself means that you're also investing in your future self.
I learned that I have the power to choose whether I will focus on doing the things that give me energy or the things that drain me. You also have that power, and you can use it when making decisions in life.
It's a great feeling to be able to get over your insecurities. It's also amusing to identify what you like to do and observe what you're feeling based on what you're doing.
I hope that you will live life the way you want it to be and be able to choose the people that you like to be with. Focus more on what you can do and what you like to do, not on what others say you can or cannot do.
Loving one's self is a journey.
It doesn't end; it's a continuous process; it makes us grow into better individuals. It helps us become more aware of our feelings and emotions. It leads us to care more and love others too. It's a key to finding happiness.
Self-love is not selfish.