Thoughts on Self-Appreciation

The other day I was talking to one of my best friends about my final chemotherapy session. I messaged her this:

“I need to be selfish for like 32 seconds and then I promise I’ll get off my ego box and I’ll put it back where it belongs but like… in 9 days I’ll be done with my last chemo session. Possibly ever (at least for a very VERY long time). How cool is that?! And I did that! That was me! I’m so absurdly excited for so many random things:

Plants in the house, spicy burritos, swimming, seeing people without worrying about if they’re sick, SHAVING (believe it or not, I am jacked for the first time I get to shave my legs after this), NOSE HAIRS (oh my god nose hairs how I’ve missed you). I’m excited for the first person I meet when all my hair and eyebrows grows back and they didn’t know I had cancer at all. I’m excited that I’m going to get to help other people. I’m excited to sit in a classroom. I’m excited to pet all the dogs. I’m excited that every day is going to be like Christmas from now on. I’m excited to celebrate my birthday. I used to HATE celebrating my birthday, but you know what? People are gifts. I’m a gift. You’re a gift. Birthdays are the time to super duper extra appreciate that gift. And you know what? I appreciate my own existence on this earth.”

Yes, with the exception of the removal of a few expletives, I said exactly this, poor wording and all. And after I was done sending it, I felt guilty for saying that I was going to celebrate myself more. I felt narcissistic and selfish. Then it hit me: that is so messed up that I can’t enjoy my existence for a half a second without feeling like an egotistical prick.

My whole life is filled with wanting to help others and be a better person overall of the sake of others. So this moment that I focused on myself felt so… wrong. So wrong in fact that even talking about myself in a positive light with one of my best friends felt disgusting. And THAT is incredibly twisted.

 

So I have a question for everyone who is reading this: Why is it considered shameful to appreciate your own existence?

Now hear me out. I’m not talking about self love here. Yes, it’s important to love yourself inside and out and to take care of yourself and all that jazz, but that’s not what I’m saying. I’m also not talking about being comfortable being alone with yourself and being okay with being alone. I’m talking about a real appreciation for yourself. Still not understanding?

Let’s try an example: Imagine your favorite person. This person is someone that you love more than anyone else and you don’t know what you’d do if you didn’t have them in your life. Do you have a visual of them yet? I’ll give you a moment to conjure an image of them in your mind’s eye.

Why do you love this person so much? Is knowing that they’re out there in the world living and breathing reason enough to love them the way you do? Do you appreciate that they exist on this earth and exist in your life? Do you love the way that they are simply themselves?  

 

Why don’t you feel this way about yourself?

Before you blow off that last question, take a second to really think about your answer to the question. Do you really, genuinely appreciate the human you are? Do you love that you’re a person with earth under your feet and sun on your skin and that you take up space on this earth? Do you ever have a moment in your life when you love exactly who you are and don’t want to change something about yourself?

Because if I’m being perfectly honest with myself, I don’t appreciate myself that way.  I don’t appreciate myself that way even though that’s how I appreciate my loved ones and almost anyone who crosses my path. I don’t value my time, my person or what I’ve contributed to the world thus far in life. I want to change that. Unfortunately it took cancer for me to want to change that or even figure out that I didn’t appreciate myself in the first place.

Saying I’m going to appreciate myself more is great, but doing it is another thing. Here’s a few ways that I want to appreciate myself more:

 

Be Mindful

This is the large, overarching way that I want to appreciate myself more. I am my biggest criticizer and I can be very mean to myself. So when I get into a rut of being hard on myself, I want to be aware of it so I can actively change my mindset on how I treat myself.

 

Stop Bashing Myself

Critiquing is great. Ridiculing is not. I am a person. I make mistakes. Own up to the mistake, learn from it and move forward. (Also complimenting myself every once in a while wouldn’t hurt either)

 

I’m Not Going to Change

Wanting to improve in certain areas of my life is a good thing, but completely changing the foundation of who I am is not. I am me. My friends and family love me for who I am and I should too. So I’m going be uncompromisingly me.
Don’t make my mistake. Please don’t wait for some life threatening event for you to start appreciating yourself. You are incredible and deserve to be celebrated. You deserve to celebrate you.

 

Until next time,
Dana

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