The Happy Trail

There’s only one you

Feeling good about yourself is really the foundation for any kind of success, and it’s most certainly one of the most crucial parts of a fantastic sex life. When you respect yourself, other people will respect you, too. When you are capable of making your own decisions, you’re less likely to do something you’ll regret tomorrow.

This is where enthusiastic consent (a phrase I hope we’re all familiar with on this liberal artsy sex-positive campus) comes in—you should never, ever feel guilted or pressured or obligated to make sexytimes with someone. Go into it thinking, “This person is so lucky that I’m deciding to love them up!!” not “Well, at least it’s better than nothing.”

The culture we live in can make feeling good about ourselves pretty tough at times. Advertisements, tabloids and TV shows are all designed in some way to make people feel bad about themselves. Knowing this gives you an edge over tons of people: Media’s most lucrative business strategy is implying they can “fix” you.

Well, have I got a secret for you: You don’t need fixing! An important part of deciding to feel good about yourself is recognizing when you’re comparing yourself to other people. I notice that people often want to be as outgoing, skinny, involved, smart, buff, cool and/or funny as someone else. Sure, we can admire someone for their positive qualities, but ultimately by comparing ourselves to people, we are creating a hierarchy of worth that is not just unnecessary, it’s destructive.

Trash-talking others reinforces thinking negatively about ourselves, too. All it does is emphasize that you are self-conscious and need to put others down to feel good about yourself. I know this is a lesson we were all supposed to learn in elementary school, but it bears repeating—what we love or hate in someone else is only a reflection of what we love or hate about ourselves, so let’s try to change the way we think about ourselves in relation to others without comparing.

One way is to take some time to really love yourself. Carve out an hour, or 20 minutes, or 10 minutes to do something that you really love. I find that meditating for even just 10 minutes can help me feel like I’m getting the attention I really need (because no one knows what you like best better than you do).

Also, do good things for yourself, like eating healthy foods and exercising. Write short lists of things you like about yourself, or, if that seems too hard, think of three things that you really love that don’t involve other people. Spend some time reading things about which you’re passionate, doodle pictures of fluffy animals, write a haiku, fingerpaint—whatever floats your boat.

You can also focus on what you are capable of doing, instead of on what you think you can’t do. When you stress about things you think you can’t handle, break it down into tiny, manageable pieces; “sweep the floor, put dirty clothes in the hamper and throw out old food” all seem like less daunting tasks than “clean my room.” When you’ve completed all your mini-tasks, you’ll realize that you were capable of doing something big all along. Focusing on the little victories gives you the confidence to face tough situations.

In the end, we’re all right where we need to be. We don’t need to try to be like other people because we are never going to be other people. What we can do is be our best selves, and that starts by forgiving your faults and loving yourself for who you are now. If anyone deserves unconditional love, it’s you. Be the first to love yourself and others will follow your example.