My New Year’s Eve celebrations started in my dad’s car at 10 PM. Dad had already gone inside the house. The lights in the garage had gone out as my mom and I sat in the car, absorbed in our phones. I couldn’t shake the dead weight inside me, I couldn’t shake the disappointment and the sadness and self-doubt that had loomed over the previous month like a leaden fog.
My mind worried over the promises I hadn’t kept, the romance I had lost, the work I hadn’t done, the words I hadn’t written, the words I had written but couldn’t seem to finish or face. I blamed myself for my relationship ending despite friends and family who loudly insisted I did nothing wrong. I berated myself for spending more time on Netflix and Facebook and YouTube than on my thesis and my writing and my knitting and any of the dozen other constructive things I could have done with my time in the past month.
I talked to my mom about all these things. It was an old conversation, one we have kept coming back to for the last twenty-six years and I’m sure we will continue to have for twenty-six more. “Lauren, sweetie,” she said when I finished unpacking my anxieties and fears. “You need to be gentle with yourself. You constantly compare yourself to others and you always sell yourself short. So what if so-and-so is married with a well-paying job or one kid you knew in high school had already visited thirty countries before they turned twenty-five? You’re doing a PhD in England and following your dreams!”
She was right, of course. She always is. Since I was a kid I’ve used perfectionism and a fierce sense of competition to motivate myself to work harder. In high school a B+ on an English test wasn’t enough, if other kids received A+s or A-s I would flagellate myself into studying harder until I received the same grade. But as I entered my early twenties that method began to break down. Competition was no longer a means by which I motivated myself, rather, it stopped me from trying anything at all. If I wrote, I only showed my mother or a handful of friends. If I drew, only my closest friends were ever allowed to see my doodles. I quietly longed to publish or display my work but I knew I didn’t have the self-discipline to consistently work on a project I started for myself. If I was doing something for a superior, I was fine, but something for me? There was no way. I never kept the promises I made to myself because, quite frankly, I never believed I was worth it.
So this post, this entry, this is my act of self-love today. No one has told me to write this for a grade or for money, and I’m sure I would continue about my business just fine if I were not participating in this challenge. But I need to keep this promise to myself because I need to know my thoughts and ideas are worth believing in. I’m not sure if I’ll truly be able to love myself by the end of this month, but if I keep this one promise to myself, it’ll make finding that love so much easier.
31-Day Self-Love Writing Challenge
January is Self-Love month, and it marks the 4th year that we’ve hosted the 31-Day Self-Love Writing Challenge. You can participate by submitting your self-love writing to be published on this blog. You can submit your writing here. You can also participate by writing your self-love posts on your own blog and linking back to the 31-Day Self-Love Writing Challenge, 2014 blog post and Facebook event. If you don’t start on January 1st, that’s fine! You can jump into the challenge whenever you want.
Win a Copy of Self-Love Diet: The Only Diet That Works
Each blog post you write is one entry into our random drawing to win an autographed copy of my book, Self-Love Diet: The Only Diet That Works. You’ll also be entered into our drawing to win our upcoming Self-Love e-products that we’ll be announcing soon.
If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your self-love writing, you can write in a journal or write yourself self-love emails. If writing isn’t for you, simply reading others’ self-love writing can be powerful and beneficial to you on your self-love journey.