The Real Questions, Part 4: How to Love Yourself

The Real Questions is an unconventional series by managing editor Ashley Kim, covering everything in the realm of teenager daily life. Part blog post, part advice column, and part news article, this series wants to answer, well, the real questions.


We’ve all had that moment.


You picked the perfect outfit, but it wasn’t perfect after all. Your tummy peeked a little from the tee you found so comfortable, or you looked so fat in that pair of skinny jeans that everyone looked good in. In a small feat of courage, you weighed yourself and shied away at the number that defined you for the rest of the day– until you would weigh yourself again. You brushed your hair and hoped that one day, it would be straight and styled like everyone else’s. You frowned as you put concealer and anti-acne cream on that pimple that wouldn’t go away.


You walked on campus and saw that girl with the boy that you liked. She was obviously flirting, again. You felt a deep dislike for the girl, but you knew inside that you could never be her. Everyone did good on that test, except you. You hid your score under your folder and silently prayed that no one would ask you. You walked past the girl who had everything- intelligence, beauty, kindness- and asked yourself why life was so unfair.


There are times in your life when you’ve hated yourself.


We all have flaws. That’s what makes us human. No one was perfect, nobody’s perfect, and no one will ever be perfect.  We have to learn to embrace our flaws, accept that they exist, and to love ourselves.


How? Loving yourself seems so simple, but we all know by experience that it’s not. Loving yourself takes confidence and courage that few possess. Like you, I’ve had many insecurities and some of them still exist. But through time and experience, I’ve found techniques and tips that help me when I feel unloved.


Here are some tips to help you love yourself!


Say it aloud.  

Sometimes, when I am feeling particularly down, I go to the mirror and look at my reflection. Then I repeat, over and over, “I am beautiful. I am loved.” One time, two times, ten times, twenty times–whatever it takes for me to drown the negative thoughts in my mind with love. You might not think that saying it helps, but it really does.


Find a way to cope.

Sometimes the thoughts can get too overwhelming. Then you need to find some way to get them out. You can exercise, even if you may not feel like it at first. Apparently exercise increases the amount of serotonin, one of your “feel good” neurotransmitter chemicals, in your body. Literally, exercise makes you more happy. You can also write in a personal journal or on the computer. This is what I do, and releasing my negative thoughts in writing really helps me. If you don’t have time for any of those, try making time for self love and positive thoughts right as you wake up or sleep. You can always get off Instagram or Twitter a few minutes early.


Pamper yourself.

This one is obvious. Get your nails done or treat yourself to a face mask. Look good, feel good. Or if you’re not into beauty, rewatch one of your favorite movies or look for a new one on Netflix. Begin a new TV show that seems particularly interesting (I recommend BBC Sherlock, but I’m very biased). Do things that you find fulfilling and enjoyable. Even a walk in the local park to clear your head can be an act of self love.


Surround yourself with positive people.

Sometimes the friends we have can discourage us and put us down. Find a group of friends who will always support you and keep you accountable. This tip is probably the most important one of all because a lot of the time, because your friends influence how you see yourself. Surround yourself with people who love you and who will make you feel happy.


Essentially, learning to love yourself will take time and effort. It may require you to change your lifestyle or your friend group. But I can reassure you that it is so worth it.