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Sunday, April 14
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

OPINION: The power of loving yourself

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Loving yourself is the pot of gold at the end of a rocky road. It’s not as easy as it sounds to accept your flaws and forgive your mistakes. Beating ourselves up about a comment we made in class, or the reaction we lacked in conversation with a friend is part of our everyday lives.  

In my experience, it is much harder to love yourself than it is to love others. This Valentine’s Day, we should celebrate self-love just as much as we celebrate other kinds of love.  

I don’t criticize my friend’s actions half as much as I criticize mine. I can’t imagine telling them the mistakes they make are all their fault, or the way they laugh is ugly. I don’t question my friend’s abilities at all, but mine? All the time. I would never even think to question their talents. If they told me they were good at soccer, I would root for them at the game. I would take pictures of them to capture the moment. I would tell them how proud I am if they won or even if they lost. For some reason, though, I don’t do those things for the only person that has been through thick and thin with me: myself.  

Before last week I had never questioned how smart I was, I had questioned other things, but not that. What led me to my doubts were two non-satisfactory grades in exams. I was very sick for one of them, so even getting on the bus, walking to the class and coming back home was a lot for my body. I was so disappointed to see my grade a couple of hours later. For the first time ever, I questioned my intelligence.  

I think I’m lucky to have gone so long without questioning it, but self-doubt really comes at you quickly. By the time I realized I was doubting myself, it was too late. I was already being negative, putting myself down and feeling like a failed. I have gotten low grades in the past, but only these two have affected me, I’m not sure why.  

Many of the negative things I tell myself, I would never say out loud to someone else. I whisper it quietly in my head and even though no one hears it, it should be enough that I do. It should be enough to know the words hurt.  

I don’t hold grudges. I don’t resent. I don’t insult. Except when it comes to me.  

I’m kind. I’m loving. I give grace. Except when it comes to me.  

Loving my friends and my family is as easy as it gets, but as soon as it comes to loving myself it suddenly becomes so harsh. I accept my mom’s flaws and my dad’s mistakes. I have given my friends grace and my boyfriend understanding. I have given them all there is to give, but when it comes to me, I sometimes only take.  

I take away confidence. I take away happiness. I take away the greatest parts of myself in the attempt of making myself better. “Better” I should say.  

In the past, I minimized my spontaneity because a routine seems more productive. I have taken away my creativity because a job in business will get me further. I have lessened my kindness because being kind to myself means I’ll be mediocre. But is it really?  

When I started to question these beliefs as I looked at pictures of when I was younger, I realized I had it all backwards. Spontaneity, creativity and kindness are all things that I should value. They are all things the girl in the pictures cherished and I had cruelly taken away. What I should take away is the self-hatred and self-deprecation habits that managed to eat at me.  

I give now. I give grace and forgiveness. I forgive mistakes and accept flaws. Especially when it comes to me.  

The warmth we hug our friends with, the acceptance we give our family, the support we give both, we shouldn’t deprive ourselves of.  

Take yourself out on a coffee date. Buy yourself something you’ve been wanting for a while. Take a hot shower and sing your favorite songs. Do what you want to do on Valentine’s Day, even if that’s just being alone. 

You deserve the same amount of attention you give other people. You deserve to love yourself just as much as you love others even if it takes double the effort. Take Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to love others, but especially yourself.  

I realized that if I don’t root for myself, if I don’t take the pictures, celebrate the moments, pat myself on the back, I will forever wait for someone else to. It's enough to have my own approval, my own love and my own grace because it was so hard to get.  

Maria Amanda Irias (she/her) is a junior studying journalism and psychology. 

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