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I wasn’t a very good-looking child when I was young.

In fact, I had a monobrow and a mustache (no kidding!). I was mocked constantly by people, especially my family. I was called ugly, useless, fat and stupid and even had the nickname, ‘Mustache Lady,’ which, even though it’s funny looking back on it now, I hated being called. I remember one day I wrote all those mean words in my diary and decided subconsciously that they were true.

I had incredibly low self-esteem since that day. Those cruel words spoken by people hit me hard and sunk in deep. I hated the way I looked. I used to buy countless of magazines and put up pictures of models all over my wall, admiring their beauty and hoping that some of it could rub off on me. I would try to starve myself all day and when I ate too much, I would throw it up immediately. When I worked out, I didn’t work out to be healthy, I worked out to try be skinny like those models on my wall.

I also hated who I was. I genuinely thought that I was a burden to people, a fear I still struggle with to this day. My lack of self-respect showed – I partied and let guys use me. I really believed my worth was found in a bottle of alcohol and a short skirt. If my personality wasn’t going to capture a guy’s attention, then why not use provocative clothing?

I forgive myself for where I once was. I know that I was a young, naive girl trying to find herself and her worth through the world. However, it cannot be found there. It took a lot of confrontation with the truth to get to where I am today, but I am still not all there yet. I still struggle with low-self esteem a lot. It’s flattering yet wildly hard to believe when someone calls me beautiful. I still have personal issues with my weight and creating a healthy, active lifestyle rather than doing a one-off fad to a toned body. I still have fears about myself which hinder my confidence and ability to hold a conversation with a stranger, and for that reason I dislike going out to clubs a lot. I am much more insecure than people may think.

However, I have come a long, long way. It takes courage to face your fears and insecurities about yourself. The biggest and hardest step for me was realizing that I did have a low self-esteem issue and that there was an evil at work to make me feel like I was ugly and worthless. After that, I took down all the posters of models down from my wall. I stopped starving myself and throwing up my food. I stopped looking for attention or hook-ups with guys. What gave me the courage and strength to do all of that though, was learning to love myself.

As someone who has been on a self-love journey for years, I believe and know that self-love is the best way to fight off and recover from low self-esteem. It’s an uphill battle, but it can be defeated. You need to realize that you deserve your utmost love and care. You need to know that you take priority just as much as anybody else. You need to know that you are important, that you are deeply loved and that you matter more than you can ever know. From that comes a self-respect that will only grow stronger with time and self-loving habits.

That includes pampering yourself regularly; taking care of your body by being active, getting outdoors and nourishing your body with foods full of goodness; being kind – to yourself, to other people and to animals; and journaling and meditating often. Most importantly, make a habit of surrounding yourself with friends who love you for you, who celebrate your amazing-ness and who encourage and support you in all you do. I know without the incredible friends in my life who saw the best in me even when I failed to see it in myself, I would not be the self-respecting, self-loving person I am today. When you find friends who treat you more than you think you deserve to be treated, keep them in your life!

Loving others and being loved in return can only feel the most gratifying when you learn to love yourself first. The opinions people have of you will always change, but the opinion you have of yourself is the only one that matters. The world will tell you lies about yourself, so consistently that you will start to believe them as truth. Don’t let that happen. When someone tells you something that hurts you, reject it immediately. Say to yourself, “I reject that,” and let those words slide off your back. In time, you will grow a thick skin built on self-love, truth and the assurance that you are passionately loved by God and your loved ones, that your worth is infinite and that nothing no one can say or do can change that.

Respect yourself. Accept yourself. But most fundamentally, always remember to love yourself.

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Top image via Sincerely Jules
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