Although self-love is over-glorified with bubble baths and fancy dinner dates, the reality is it is as simple as being kind to oneself and comfortable with who you truly are. However, the journey might not be as simple as the definition of it. The reality is that most of us are not comfortable with who we are. The issue here can be analysed in two different levels. The first level is more on the surface where we are not comfortable with ourselves physically and on a materialistic dimension. The second level is a little deeper where we are not comfortable with ourselves mentally which includes not being able to be alone with our thoughts and emotions.
However, your 20s is the best time for you to learn to be one. Whether you’re off to a graduate school or finally taking up your first ever job, it is most probably in your 20s when you get exposed to the world outside which is nothing like your high school and your time spent at home. You’ll be put in positions where you need to face challenges that you didn’t know existed and situations that will make you doubt yourself and your capabilities. These instances will continuously happen throughout your life and will require you to know yourself as a person and understand your true values. Before diving into the how, let us understand why we are so bad at being comfortable with ourselves.
On the first level of physical and materialistic dimension, a lot of the issues come from the existence of constant comparison with others. Social psychologists say that we compare ourselves to others because there is no yardstick to measure and evaluate how good we are at something. There is no ruler to measure how attractive you are as a person or how great your life is. Thus, to know where we stand in our quest to be better, we compare ourselves to people around us. I guess I don’t need to tell you why it’s even worse in the age of social media.
On the level of not being able to be comfortable with ourselves mentally, it’s no secret how time spent alone with your feelings and thoughts can bring them to places you don’t wish to visit. That is why we see so many people who can’t stand being alone with themselves - but don’t lose all hope, because learning to be at ease with oneself is a journey that requires patience and effort. Here are a few things you can start doing to begin that journey.
Taking care of yourself is an investment in your physical and mental health. It is the most effective way of honouring your body, mind, and soul. Taking care of oneself can look different to everybody. For someone, it can be jumping onto the treadmill 30 minutes every day. For another, it can be cooking and eating clean. For someone else, it can be following that 10-step Korean skincare routine. Ultimately, it is anything that makes you invest in your well-being. Since we always take care of the things and people we love, this act of taking care of ourselves will be able to help us love and be comfortable with ourselves.
Often being alone can be much more dreading to an extrovert than an introvert. This is because introverts tend to take in less social pleasure than extroverts (that’s also why self-quarantine might be a dream come true for the introverts as opposed to the extroverts). Maybe being an introvert is why you feel like you’d rather settle down on your couch with a good book instead of partying on a Friday night, and you don’t have to be uncomfortable about that because that is who you are!
Getting to know yourself is also a way to know and embrace your flaws. During my studies in UPSI when I took a personality test, I was surprised at how much I learned about myself. It is important to not let your knowledge of weaknesses make you feel bad about yourself, but use it to prevent any setbacks for yourself in the future.
Acceptance here also means quitting comparisons. The reality is there will always be someone better, smarter, and more attractive than you are, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be appreciating and celebrating what you have. The only time comparison is relevant is when you compare yourself to your past self to celebrate, or to the ideal self to improve. Half of the people you’re worried about being judgemental of you or you’re trying to impress, don’t care about you as a person, or understand how it feels being in your shoes.
There are dozens of other things that you can do to be more comfortable with yourself. Just because they aren’t included in this article, it doesn’t mean they don’t work. Remember that there is no right way, just the way that works for your journey and the ways that don’t. We will one day walk this earth all alone, without our parents, siblings, friends, or even our spouses. So, at some point, we better start to know and love yourself — the person you’ll be spending your entire life with and be comfortable with that person.
Remember, although your 20s might be the prime time to learn to be comfortable with yourself, it’s never too late or too early, you can start the journey at any age.