Like many women self-love is not something that has come easy for me. Looking back on my childhood and teen years I can recall many moments when I felt less than enough. I was never the skinny girl. I wasn’t athletic. I had braces. I wore glasses. I went through a phase where I had some styling feathered bangs. In high school I had a lot of friends. I was a cheerleader, a member of student council, and an active member in FCCLA. I was voted most talkative for senior mock elections. But on the inside I always thought other girls were prettier, smarter, happier, and funnier than me. I lacked self-love.

I’ll never forget the time in middle school when I got a hair cut like Rachel’s from Friends. You know that cute layered hair style that literally everyone “copied!” I loved it but in my first hour class I recall a classmate rudely telling me that I had copied her haircut and wanted to be like her. She humiliated me in front of other classmates. That memory has stuck with me since eighth grade. I let something so little make a huge dent in my self-confidence. My journey with anxiety and lack of self-esteem was beginning.

For the next twenty plus years I would continue to struggle with self-love. Comparing myself to other women. Wanting to be skinnier. Wanting to be stronger. Wanting to find love. Wanting perfect hair. Wanting more success. Most of all… wanting to be happy! I hate to admit this but there were moments I had difficulty being happy for my friends because I was jealous of the life they had or the one I thought they had. I lost friends because of my negativity and constant complaining. I was the toxic friend that could drag the mood of others down.

My struggles with self-love and wanting to “fit in” hit some very low places at different times in my life. Stories I plan to share when I’m ready, in hopes that they will allow other women to know they aren’t alone.

In my early 20’s I knew that my negative feelings were more than just low self- esteem. I went to a doctor and was diagnosed with clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder. Having a mental illness and knowing the stigma that goes with it made me love myself even less.

I’m not sure when I decided that it did not have to define who I was but I did. My life was a roller coaster of ups and downs for years. I now have a career I love and excel at. A boyfriend that is my best friend and supports me even on my down days. Friends that push me and don’t judge me for the mistakes I’ve made. A family that loves me unconditionally and I have Self Love Beauty. Having depression and anxiety isn’t a choice but the way I choose to live with it is. I choose to fight my demons and learn to love myself more everyday.

I also know that every day isn’t going to be easy. At 34 I still have days where getting out of bed is a true challenge. I still battle loving myself, especially my physical appearance. I am currently at my heaviest weight. I catch myself saying “I am sooo fat!, I look like a whale! My face looks terrible! Ugh, I wish these bags under my eyes would disappear.” I struggle to go to my gym some days because I feel not good enough. I’ve gained weight. I’m not as strong. I’m not as in shape as the other members. Yet I know that exercise helps me feel empowered so eventually I battle my inner dialogue and get my ass to the gym only to feel even worse about myself because yet again I’ve skipped classes for 2 weeks. I try not to focus on what I missed but to celebrate that I’m there now and that is what matters.

Over the years I have found tools to help me live a happier life. I will not post anything on social media that is negative. I read personal development books like “Girl Wash Your Face.” I take medication. I look for ways to change my mindset and use positive affirmations (from Self Love Beauty).

My battle with self-love is never ending but with a desire to always strive to be better, to support myself and others, to overcome the negative self-talk I am living a life I love. You can too!

If you are battling inner demons don’t give up. Find a support system. Lean on your friends. Talk to your doctor. Don’t give up on your dreams. Stay positive and believe in yourself!

Guest Blogger Aimee Allen

Aimee lives in Saginaw, MI with her boyfriend and three fur babies. She has a passion for helping and others and works as a special education teacher. She takes pride in teaching her students to love their differences and believe that they can achieve anything they desire. As an ambassador for Self Love Beauty she has found a place to improve her confidence while also helping others do the same.