When it comes to raising our kids, there are millions of lessons that we can teach them. But what’s the most important thing you can teach your children? It’s not how to tie their shoes, how to pull the perfect low-and-outside pitch or how to finally use the “big” potty…
Loving myself was something I always struggled with. Growing up, my parents constantly preached that it’s okay to be different and that we should celebrate our uniqueness. But despite their teachings and lessons, I struggled to love who I was. I’m not really sure where my insecurities came from. I had a constant need for attention while hating my body, the way I looked and my extreme awkwardness. I wanted to blend in, not stand out. I tried to hide my awkwardness, change my views to “fit in” and began to believe the perfect outfit could make me appear like I have it all together. While a good outfit can still work wonders, I’ve learned that no matter how beautiful or expensive my clothes are – these things don’t change who I am on the inside.
In college I partied a lot in order to cover up my insecurities and shortcomings. I was the loud, fun, party girl. I think I tried to cover up my insecurities with my humor. I didn’t want anyone to see my struggle so I was sometimes the first to put something about myself down, to beat anyone else to it. I wanted to appear fearless and like I just didn’t care about anyones opinions of me. But in all honestly, it was the complete opposite. I surrounded myself with friendships that contained little substance outside of my party lifestyle and that didn’t get close enough to see through me.
After college I got a job, stopped going out as much and was slowly beginning to grow up. I spent a lot of time on self reflection, started working out again and began to turn down margarita Monday’s for nights at the gym. Overtime I began to love myself again and only surrounded myself with people who loved me for who I am, quirks and all.
Now I look back and barely recognize the girl I see in my college pictures. Not just physically, but I don’t recognize who I was as a person. I’ve grown and changed in more ways than I can describe, but it’s all because I learned to love and accept myself. By learning to love who I am, I was able to find my soulmate in my husband.
I don’t want my daughter to go through the insecurities that plagued my early years. I want to instill in her that she is beautiful and amazing just how she is, quirks and all. I want her to embrace her uniqueness and to know that it’s okay to be different. I want to teach her like my parents taught me, but also add in my own personal experience of what not to do.
Being accepted by others won’t teach you to love yourself. Being popular doesn’t mean you accept who you are. But teaching our children to find what makes them happy and to embrace their own differences, will lead them to loving themselves. Learning to love ourselves is the greatest lesson you can teach your children, even if you’re a late learner like myself.