Another 365 days have passed and here I am – I made it to 32. This year has been so challenging for me on so many levels, but it has made me grow even more than I ever thought possible.

I’ve tried to make it a habit for myself to every year write down the things I’ve learned about myself and life. So rather than telling myself “I will be better this year”, I can bask in the gratitude of what amazing things I have achieved at this current moment in my life.

It took 32 years to learn these things. It is my hopes through sharing 11 things I learned this year, that perhaps I can help others learn these valuable self-love lessons for themselves.  Accompanied by photographs of my amazing Jennifer Skog that were taken this year.

1. Other people feel the same self-loathing that I feel myself.

Sometimes when we are feeling down on ourselves, we tend to lash out at the ones we love because we are stuck in that victim mentality. For me personally, I would feel like I was the only one in the whole world that felt unworthy of love, scared of rejection, and ashamed of their body at times. You feel like no one understands your struggles, because on the outside they are so confident and LOVED.

This is especially a problem in our cluttered, modern, social media-driven world. Remember people don’t generally show their insecurities in real life, let alone online. Behind closed doors, everyone goes through periods where they feel like garbage about themselves. Everyone (yes ladies, EVEN MEN) looks in the mirror a lot of days and wonders “how anyone could ever want and love me?”…. just like you do.

 

2. I am not a victim of the world, I play my own part.

Every single conflict that you have that you feel like someone wronged you, take a break off the victim couch and hold yourself accountable for your part. Most of my life due to my lack of loving myself fully, I sat on the victim couch and just figured they were mean because I wasn’t worthy of love. Because love wasn’t for me, it was for everyone else.

It wasn’t until I started showing up and loving myself enough to hold myself accountable for my fuck ups. Just like you would tell your loved ones when they messed up because you want the best, do the same for yourself. Without judgment, learn from your mistakes and move on.

This also really helps you when it comes to forgiving others. Which leads us to…

3. Forgiving myself for my lack of perfection, helps me forgive others for theirs.

We are human. We all fuck up. We all have flaws. We are all worthy of forgiveness, so start forgiving others. Resentment and anger are toxic to yourself and everyone around you.

We all cheat. We all lie. We all say mean things to each other.

 

4. Consistency is everything

Self-love doesn’t happen just like that. It’s a daily practice. Stop sprinting to some unattainable goal and simply try every day to do your best to be the best version of yourself that you can. Every day commit to treating yourself with love.

5 people are always going to do crappy things to you. It has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with their own shit.

Stop blaming people’s bad behavior on yourself.

 

6. You can make poop jokes.

Lighten up, everyone poops.

7. Self-care is not an option when being committed to loving yourself.

I feel the sexiest when my body feels great. When I have energy. When I’m nourishing it with healthy foods. The time periods when I am consistent with my self-care with yoga, cardio, and a good diet I feel great about my body, regardless of the scale.

When I am not in an active daily routine of self-care, my body hurts. My insecurities come back. My view of my body changes. I start seeing it the exact same way I am treating it.

 

8. Don’t give a shit what anyone thinks about what you are doing.

Stop trying to get people to validate you. Stop wondering if they will like you. If they love you, just give love and the love will come back. If not, then it just makes room for people that do love you.

Be your totally free, bad ass self. No apologies. Let critics be critics. Remember that the only people that judge others are just truly hating themselves. Let your freak flag fly. 

 

9. Real Love isn’t what someone can do for you, it’s what you can do for them.

Before I discovered how important it was to truly love myself inside and out, I didn’t know how to love correctly. I put my needs and insecurities on my lovers, rather than taking care of them myself. This selfishness of mine could have been avoided had I put the effort into making myself happy, rather than pushing THEM to make me happy.

Through very hard, painful lessons, I’ve learned that real love is to understand the person you love. To give love willingly, without holding past mistakes over someone’s head. It’s forgiving the person, rather than begging for only them to have to forgive you.

It is also loving them enough to give space when they so desperately need it.

10. The affirmations work.

It doesn’t matter if you feel stupid when telling yourself in the mirror “you are beautiful”, just do it. Write them down. Repeat them when you feel yourself starting a self-hatred, anxiety spiral. Breath in, breath out, slow down your nervous system, say the words, watch the magic happen in minutes.

Get over your ego and just do it. 😉

11. Life is fleeting, appreciate each bit of love that you are given.

The people we love will not always be there. I don’t say this as a way to scare myself into clinginess. But instead, I look at it as a reminder that when I am lucky enough to be around someone I love, that I fully embrace the time I have.

Seeing my sweet Poot dog go through is surgery and being faced with the idea of losing him has made me appreciate the walks more. I play with him more so that our days together are filled with fun.

As I write this, My friend Kerry just died from complications days ago from cystic fibrosis. Just a few years older than me, and one of the kindest and positive people I have ever met. I’ve been filled with regret because Kerry was the person that sent me random gifts in the mail, was full of support and love, and always a great person to talk to. Rather than chatting more, or really going through with that plan for me to visit Georgia we kept talking about, I was too wrapped up in my own brain to make it happen.

So I am taking time to appreciate the people that are around me. Appreciate those that do what they can to show they care and really cherish it. All I can do is learn. I know that Kerry never held a grudge against me, she’s just was not that kind of person.  She taught me a really great lesson this year and I am so grateful for the reminder.

 

So here is to another fantastic, reflective, evolving year for me. I am excited to see where things flow to next. xo

Love yourselves and each other, on your birthday and every day.

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