Couple of days ago, I was eating dinner with my mother and I was telling her about how some of my college friends already have jobs, some are getting married and some bought their first house. I then preceded to complain about how I wasn’t as “successful” as them. After my mother listened to me going on and on about this, she stopped me and blatantly said “you have been telling me all night how unsuccessful you feel compared to them, but what are you most proud of without comparing yourself to others?”
I’m guilty of relentlessly comparing myself to others around me, whether it is how my body looks, how successful I am or how loved I am by those around me. Unconsciously, I find myself thinking that I am not good enough, that I am not doing the most or that I am not deserving of love because I feel like I have failed myself or those around me.
Without blaming all these thoughts on culture, it is true that I feel like we are in a certain degree made to feel less of a successful person if we haven’t fulfilled certain expectations. Maybe we are still single by a certain age, don’t make a certain amount of income or don’t have a large social circle. Maybe we don’t look a certain way or act a certain way around others.
The product of all these thoughts is that I feel like we get stuck in our own heads, leading to our self esteem to take a nosedive until we feel like the meaning of life is to binge watch Netflix and eat comfort food. We let our inner-critics take the wheel to the point that we forget what is truly wonderful and unique about us.
But the thing is, we can’t hate our self into loving our self. Focusing on the things that makes us feel like we are not successful enough will only take us so far. It is our own job to make ourselves feel like we matter and that we are enough, regardless of who we are and where we are in life at this very moment. We need to practice self-love to have a chance of being happy.
How do we do this, you might ask. Practicing self-love isn’t about being self-absorbed to the point that we become narcissists. It is about getting in touch with ourselves, learning to be our own source for happiness and getting in touch with our own well-being. Though the idea of practicing self-love is so simple, it is anything but simple.
Going back to my conversation with my mother, I was taken aback by the question. I was so focused on comparing myself to others that I had forgotten what I was most proud of. And in reality that is all it really takes to practice self-love, one simple question, what are you most proud of? And the funny thing is that what you are most proud of, doesn’t have to be something big. It can be something you did so far in your life, this year, month, week or even this day. Maybe you are proud of how well you handled a certain situation or maybe you made someone else feel good about themselves. The important think is that it might give you the breathing room you need to get out of this downward spiral of self-hate that can be so suffocating at times.
When it comes to me and my life, I am most proud that I finished a bachelor in Norwegian law, with above average grades, while working up to full time workdays. I am most proud that I mustered the courage to drive eight hours by myself, when I don’t enjoy driving at all. I am most proud that I enrolled myself in a Spanish course, though I haven’t really had any connection to the language or culture.
I haven’t gotten a job as was expected of me, I am still singel and I am doubting what I really want to do with my life. But i’m darn well proud of myself for what I have achieved so far in my life. Maybe others won’t even bat an eye of what I mentioned above, but the thing is, I don’t have to compare myself to others. I did that, and it is good enough for me.
So my question to you is; what are you most proud of?