Stop comparing and start loving yourself

Photo courtesy of April Oddo.

By April Oddo | Reporter

My entire life was measured by my successes. From an early age, I felt pressure to be the perfect student, the perfect daughter and the perfect girl. Mistakes were inexcusable, and my reputation was held as the highest priority in my life. I valued what people thought of me and what was tied to my name more than I valued my mental sanity and physical health. I forced people and things into my life without seeing the damage they would cause me. After years of living in misery, something changed: I got tired of treating myself poorly. I got tired of letting others treat me poorly and demanding respect from everyone around me without returning it to myself. This is how I stopped comparing myself and how I started loving myself.

I used to think that the term “self-love” was a contradiction. Love is selfless, so how could I possibly love myself? My perspective started to shift when I realized that the way I was treating myself was beginning to reflect the way I was treating others. It’s not about rejecting the needs of others; it’s about learning how to prioritize. It may sound cliche, but if you can’t love yourself, then how are you supposed to love anyone else?

People’s opinions and acceptance of me ruled my life, which led to extreme insecurity. The truth is, I’m definitely not the only one who struggles with comparison. In a culture that’s heavily dependent on social media and the internet, it’s hard to not compare your life with someone else’s. I have personally seen this have a drastic impact on my mental health.

The internet does not reflect reality. Most people in college will post their highs — never their lows. Someone’s social media page might reflect confidence, but in reality, they could be using their page to mask their insecurities. If you really want to learn to love yourself, you need to stop comparing someone else’s Instagram feed to the person you are, because there’s a good chance that the posts making you question your worth are fake. Time and time again, we fall susceptible to comparison because of social media. An app that can literally dictate your mood and perception of yourself is just a complex algorithm that is only going to keep showing you the things you obsessively search for. Use your social media account for you, not for what people will think of it.

I began to reflect on the things that made me question my worth: Who were the people I was allowing into my life? Were the opinions that people held about me credible? Was someone else’s acceptance of me worth risking my goals, future and passions? Mankind’s opinion is irrelevant to the person you are. You will never be independent if you lack the ability to prioritize your needs rather than everyone else’s. The only way to appeal to an individual is to be one. The longer you surround yourself with people who aren’t meant to be in your life, the longer you’ll push away those who are meant to be in it.

One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was spending time convincing others to see my worth. The years I wasted making sure that everyone liked me could have been years dedicated to helping myself become the woman I was made to be. The person I am is not going to change, and the way you view me is simply your reality — not mine. The way we compare our lives causes us to be forceful of the people we allow into it. Do not ever let anyone speak over your identity. No one is in charge of telling you who you are, because no one knows you the way you do. When rejection arises, allow it to happen. It’s more of a blessing than a loss. Not everyone is going to like you, and you should never change to be someone you were not meant to be.

Make sure to put yourself first. Allow yourself to grow, and allow yourself to let life take its course. The more you learn to treat yourself with kindness, the better you’ll be able to treat others with kindness.