by Caleigh Sullivan Ashe
I was that girl; straight A’s in school, played all the sports well, had lots of friends and boyfriends, won awards, got into every university I applied to, made the varsity soccer team, got two undergraduate degrees and a Masters degree. I had a great life with lots of accomplishments, and yet I hated myself.
It was like none of it was enough because I wasn’t enough. My parents were very proud of me except for the one thing I wasn’t; thin.
My parents worried about my shape and talked about it a lot. They talked about what I ate, and made up food allergies so I wouldn’t eat certain things. I remember being taken to Jenny Craig in high school and the Dietitian suggested I didn’t need to be there as I was very normal and active, my Mom told her it was preventative.
It was spring and it was pretty awful playing on the school field hockey team and two soccer teams on a diet of celery and diet pop. After university my Mom suggested I should stop exercising for a period of time to see if my thighs would shrink. I was a young woman who wanted to please people so I went along with these things.
It took me three decades to figure out the most crucial thing in life, and that is the necessity to learn to love yourself. Not because you are smart enough, or pretty enough, or have accomplished enough, but because as a living, breathing human you are enough and you are worth love.
When we don’t love ourselves we do things and behave in ways that show we don’t think we are worth it, and that result in shame and self-loathing. Once you sort through your shit and learn to love yourself you get to choose who you want to be and how you want to show up every day. You get to be comfortable in your own skin.
You also get to have the strength to choose how you will respond to negativity and hurtful things. It doesn’t mean you will never hurt and never have to deal with difficult situations in your life, but it does mean that you can have the courage to deal with them.
When you love yourself you have the capacity to be truly curious about others, to be open-minded, to be vulnerable and courageous with others. You have the capacity for gratitude, to look around and see how blessed you are.
There is this quote that has a lot of meaning for me:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” - Maya Angelou
Because how I make people feel is deeply important to me and in this past decade or more of my life I have learned to love myself and now I can focus on showing up as the person I want and trying to make others feel wonderful.