This was always something that baffled me, for two reasons. Firstly, I had been suffering with body image issues and low self esteem since a young age, meaning I didn’t know what it was like to love myself. Perhaps it was a misconception of the confidence I feigned to get myself through the day. Secondly, due to my mental state, self love was something I had always dreamed of, and yet never was lucky enough to have. So why was it that people viewed the one thing that would solve most of my mental health problems as something so negative?
It seemed that my entire generation was brainwashed with this toxic aversion to self love. My friends would use it as an insult for people they couldn’t stand, and so in turn, I admittedly grew up doing the same. I imagine many other people my age either did the same or found themselves on the receiving end of the words.
Fast forward a few years and a lot of growing up, I am proud to say that, although I still struggle, I have a much better relationship with myself, and this has allowed me to understand the secondary school attitudes I was haunted by. It is now clear to me that we, as a country, simply confuse self love with selfishness, and confidence with arrogance. We are so obsessed with being humble that we forget about the importance of self-celebration, and trade pride for embarrassment. We are trying so hard to better ourselves that all that is already amazing is forgotten about.
This may seem quite a trivial observation to some people, you might even believe that the qualities I just singled out are positive. However, these attitudes are dangerous because they’ve played a part in causing the mental health epidemic that’s been attacking our nation in recent years. If our children are growing up being scared to love themselves, no wonder CAMHS services are at breaking point.
We cannot change this until we start with the self. Try to say at least one kind thing about yourself every day; from experience, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Then, it won't seem so strange to us when the people around us are kind to themselves, and we can replace our judgement with admiration. Strutting is so much more fun than walking, anyways.