I have always gone by the motto “Self-love always starts with you.” I stick with that phrase every day, especially as a woman with cerebral palsy. I’ve learned that the journey to self-love isn’t easy, especially if others judge you on how you look, but it is the most important ingredient in successful relationships.
As a child and a teenager, I struggled to love myself. My body was changing, and my thoughts were beginning to mature, but I couldn’t seem to appreciate my differences.
By middle school, I had developed feelings for boys (like most girls my age), but I didn’t have the dating experienced I dreamt of. I was a nerdy girl, loved school, and had buck teeth, so most guys would just look the other way. On top of that, I was a wheelchair user. I couldn’t help feeling upset about all of the qualities guys looked down on me for, especially when a boy in my grade rejected me in front of everyone we knew. At that moment, self-love felt impossible.
That experience with rejection, though, helped me discover that I can love myself. I was so determined to prove that boy wrong that I started actively practicing self-love every day.
Now, as an adult, I know that self-love starts with you. If you believe that you are beautiful inside and out, you are far more likely to have successful relationships than if you are constantly belittling yourself. You can’t expect another person to give you the love you deserve until you give yourself the love you deserve.
Guys still tend to act slightly standoffish around me at first, but once they see how much I love and respect myself, then all their doubts about me fly out the window. Self-love can help you, too. It shows that you’re confident and accepting, which will help your partner accept you. Never feel ashamed of your flaws or your identity – loving yourself could bring you closer to finding “the one!”