2019 really felt like my year. I felt confident in almost all of my decisions, Alex and I's relationship continued on an amazing path and I solidified friendships, both new and old. It really was a year that when I look back on it, brings a huge smile to my face.
I know how lucky that makes me and I know how privileged I am to have that view of almost an entire year, but there are parts of the year I wish I could change. What helps me not to dwell on the things I wish were different though, is realising that those thoughts are probably quite normal. No amount of worry will ever change something that has already happened, despite the pit in my stomach.
The past couple of years I've tried to prioritise my happiness in the decisions I make and as time goes on it's something I definitely succeed in a little more each year, but as human nature prevails, there are choices and thoughts that still loiter in that 'what if?' recess in my brain.
And the one thing I struggle with over anything else? Loving myself. I sometimes scroll through Instagram and can't even take my own advice on not comparing myself to others. I'm still the girl that doesn't like so many photos of myself, I'm still the girl that overthinks my decisions and I'm still the girl who puts myself down on my worst days.
Loving myself isn't an easy thing to do.
When I look at these photos, the first thing I see and recall from this day, is how happy I was. I'm happy, I'm healthy and I'm relaxed. A few days away before the craziness of Christmas, relaxing with my husband and letting go of any stress I was holding onto with a day in a gorgeous spa. Perfection - in theory. The second thing I see though? Is that I don't really love myself and I certainly don't love how I look. Posting pictures on the blog when I'm not feeling my best, isn't an easy thing to do. In fact it's a rather terrifying thing to do if I'm being completely honest but do you know what's far more important than overthinking a picture of me in a bikini? Accepting that this is me, using it as a stepping stone to learn to love myself and hopefully helping someone else to love themselves too.
I think we sometimes forget to love ourselves and we worry that doing just that, can be perceived as a sign of arrogance. Loving yourself can mean different things to different people, but for me it's accepting and respecting myself- both body and mind. It's taking care of my mental health but also appreciating this body of mine. It's being gentle with myself but compassionate enough to be strong. It's seeing the positive attributes that make me who I am but allowing myself to grow along the way and better myself. I heard an amazing piece of advice a few months ago that really stuck with me and it's made such a difference in how I truly love myself. When you may be giving yourself a hard time about the way you act, the way you look or the way you feel - think about how kind you would be to a friend having the same difficult thoughts. You would raise them up, take care of them and support them. Now take those wonderful words you'd offer to a friend, and offer them up to yourself instead of the negativity you may have initially felt. You deserve kindness, compassion and a gentle word or two, just as much as anyone else.
My takeaway from learning to love myself the past year? Be gentle with your own thoughts, be gentle with the things you say to friends and certainly be gentle with the things you write on social media. Learning to love yourself is no easy feat and no matter how easy it is to assume how someone else feels, you will never know their true thoughts through a simple image or post. I'm learning to love myself in every way I can, even if those lessons are slow to learn. Nothing great was ever easy to come by right?