11 PIECES OF SEX AND DATING WISDOM COURTESY OF SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN THROUGH THE RINGER

Dick pics, consent, condoms, exes, self-objectification and love. Love in the age of millennials.

I have enough exes that they could all get together and make a ska band. I used to be embarrassed about this fact, but now I know it just means I REALLY have experience in this field. Everything from getting dumped and having my heart broken, dumping someone, being used, being played out and mislead, being a terrible unsupportive significant other, being called horrible things — you name it, I’ve probably lived it and learned from it.

Taking a step back from dating for last little while has given me a new perspective on certain things and reminded me of others. Millennials are reinventing everything as a generation, including dating. In some ways it’s amazing because we have more ways to meet people than ever before, but all those avenues of communication can make us less connected than ever before.

Buckle up. If you are related to me, please, for the love of god don’t read this.

Mature themes and swearing ahead, kids.


1. Just because someone uses you doesn’t make it ok for you to use someone else.

Sometimes when we are hurt we do dumb things because we feel like causing pain will cancel out our pain. Meanwhile, it only makes things SO MUCH WORSE. Nobody wins when you act out of spite, especially not you.

For example, maybe he used you (emotionally, physically) and now you wanna get a baseball bat out and go to town on him like Beyoncé in the Lemonade film but you don’t want to reveal your rage and fulfill the “crazy woman” stereotype so you internalize it and take it out on some other unsuspecting guy you find at a bar or on Tinder. *deep breath*

A short-term self-esteem bandaid (in whatever form) won’t cover the gaping flesh wound this person left you with. That’ll only heal with time, my friend.

2. Stop playing the game of “who can care less about the other person”

Whoever can come away more untouched and unfazed from a one night stand or a Tinder date is supposedly the “winner” of this game millennials play.

Casual sex culture is scary because it can harden us and makes us think that it’s wrong to have feelings. If we don’t want to play the game, we can be harshly judged or cast out. So sometimes we end up participating even when we know it hurts us. I thought about things completely differently after watching Liberated, and I still believe that adults are completely allowed to conduct themselves however they want — but this whole “I don’t have to show you any respect thing” is just horrible.

The executive director of the documentary said this in an interview for The Bundle Magazine and I think it applies to both genders:

“We live in a world where people wear very scant bikinis just to sell us burgers. And whether we like that or not, we are constantly surrounded by those images. We may be guarding our eyes, but we cannot escape them in culture. We might not be conscious of it, but when we pass a billboard, look at a magazine or turn on the TV, we are being primed to that kind of imagery. That commodifies a human being. It makes them an object. And as soon as we objectify someone, it’s a lot easier disrespect them. Or to not see them for the extraordinary creation that they are.”

— Sarah-Jane Murray

3. When it comes to anything in the bedroom — ask. Never assume. 

I can’t believe I have to say this but y’all would be downright SHOCKED at the number of conversations I’ve had with other woman where guys will go to do something in the bedroom without any prior warning or consent and it turns out it’s something their partner isn’t into. In 2018.

ARGUABLY! THE! YEAR! OF! FUCKING! CONSENT!!!!

GO FIGURE SOMEONE WOULD WANt TO BE WARNED BEFORE ANAL SEX.

If you are scared to communicate or ask someone before you do something that doesn’t mean you get to just DO IT. If you don’t know someone well and you assume they are down to do something – that doesn’t mean you get to just DO IT.

This behaviour isn’t gendered by the way. I’m aware that trust, non-verbal communication and being under the influence all play a role in the quality of communications taking place.

People try to argue it isn’t sexy to stop and ask something in the heat of the moment but I really don’t know what’s sexier than safe and consensual intercourse with someone who respects you???

Honestly, Amber Rose said it best when she was on a talk show:

“If I’m laying down with a man — butt-naked — and his condom is on, and I say, ‘You know what? No. I don’t want to do this. I changed my mind,’ that means no. That means f-ing no. That’s it. It doesn’t matter how far I take it or what I have on, when I say no, it means no.”

Amber Rose No GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

4. Always talk about testing even if it makes you uncomfortable.

Yeah sex is cool but some STIs and STDs are undetectable friends. I was lucky enough to have a brother who volunteered at Nine Circles educating people about safe sex practices for a long time so I learned a lot — but mostly he told me that most sexually active adults really don’t have the right facts about this stuff.

If you can’t talk about testing you shouldn’t be having sex. Period.

Ask “when was the last time you were tested?” then go from there. It’s specific, direct and doesn’t pry into past partners.

5. Don’t shit talk your ex. 

No matter how it ended, it ain’t worth it. It reflects more poorly on you than it does your ex. Also, they don’t deserve that.

6. A smiling selfie is way cuter than a picture of your penis.

I know what you’re thinking: “Raegan, does that really need to be explicitly stated?”

YES. IT DOES. BECAUSE PEOPLE ACT LIKE BARN ANIMALS.

ALSO, INSTAGRAM AND SNAPCHAT EGGED ON THE FUCKBOIS BY MAKING IT SO THAT YOU CAN SEND PHOTOS THAT DISAPPEAR FOREVER.

There are women who like dick pics. They exist, and you may have met one. But there are also many women who don’t.

7. Don’t string someone along just because you want attention. 

I see people make jokes about this on Twitter and it’s cold. But I’ve gone through this — I’ll admit it — I’m no saint. But thinking about how it makes the other person feel snapped me out of it. Are we really so used to be stimulated that we can’t stand to go unacknowledged for one night? You can’t unrun that fear forever.

I get that it’s easy to avoid ever feeling lonely with dating apps, DMs and Snapchat BUT dating and messaging people shouldn’t be a hobby. If you are only texting someone every Friday night, shut your phone off and go to bed fam.

8. Do believe that you deserve love.

I can’t believe how much of my life I wasted believing I didn’t deserve love. How much I believed that I was just lucky someone would put up with me. How much I would turn into a puddle of shitty self-esteem when someone even remotely cool, attractive or interesting would pay attention to me. How I would just assume how it was a matter of time before that person found out too much and RAN because apparently I was such a monster???

Imposter syndrome is a bitch.

Speaking from experience, don’t waste another minute thinking that. If you’re lucky enough to find love, know that it walked into your life because you deserve it. If you can find it in your heart to accept yourself, you’re gonna give off this bright shiny light that’s gonna pull in some winners. If you haven’t found someone, love yourself like your life depends on it (as Jen Sincero says at the end of every chapter of ‘You are a Badass’).

Which one drives you?

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9. Life is too damn short to not have great sex because you are worrying about how you look.

Remember when I talked about objectification earlier? Well when people self-objectify it can actually lead to sexual dysfunction (amongst MANY other issues). Translation: the more you see yourself as a sex object, the less fun you tend to have during sex. Sad but true — and rampant in millennials.

We’ve all felt lackluster about our self image at one time or another (or always, for some people), but it can sideline you from sex for a LONG time if you let it. That breaks my heart. But we gotta stop being so afraid of not looking perfect and embrace imperfect pleasure.

We don’t get much for free in this life other than orgasms and library books so make the most of both if you can.

Also:

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10. If you ghost someone, you deserve to run into them looking like a potato. The universe is gonna take their side on this one.

There’s a way to be polite, direct and kind. Find that way. Use it. Next time, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask how you want to be treated.

*Mutual ghosting is the ONLY exception to this rule.

11. Put your damn phone away when you are spending time with someone.

Nothing says modern romance on like sitting across the table from someone watching them text someone else who isn’t part of the present moment. Not face up on the table, not face down on the table, not in your pocket with vibrate on, not in sight…

A

W

A

Y.


Love people. Use things.

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THE STORY OF MY BODY AND MY BUSINESS

How Brooke Ryssel came back after an accident and built a health and wellness company around body positivity

GUEST WRITER INFO

Brooke Van Ryssel is the owner/creator of My Body Fitness + Nutrition, Winnipeg’s first company dedicated to fitness, nutrition and body positivity.

She is a 25-year-old entrepreneur, fitness trainer and Registered Holistic Nutritionist.

In August 2016, I moved away from my partner, family and friends to study Holistic Nutrition in Vancouver. Everything was going swimmingly, I was enjoying school, excelling and working a part-time job at a group fitness gym.

Until one morning when I was driving to work.

On May 16, 2017, someone went right through a red light and hit my car on the drivers side at full speed resulting in another impact into a lamp pole.

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I can still remember the exact feelings I had after the second impact: shock and disbelief, quickly followed by panic when I couldn’t open my door and realized I was covered in glass.

Am I ok?

With the help of some pedestrians I was able to get out of the passengers side door. I tapped each foot into the cement to see if I was able to stay standing, and began touching my body from head to toe as if I was giving myself an airport style pat down. As I did this, I was crying hysterically and a paramedic started asking me questions and guiding me towards an ambulance.

The woman who hit me casually walked over, travel mug in hand, and said she was glad I was ok. I didn’t say anything because I barely heard her.

I was sitting in the ambulance when I felt the first tinge of pain under my left thigh. I reached my hand underneath my leg, and when I brought it back up it was covered in blood and little shiny shards of glass.

“So I guess I’m bleeding,” I said to the paramedic.

We got to the hospital where I was assessed and laid on the table bare butt up while a medical resident pulled shards of glass out of my leg.

It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that I could barely walk and my body hurt all over. It was a deep aching pain that seemed to be just as bad when I was moving as it was when I was still. I went upstairs and called everyone to tell them what happened.

I told my mom that I was fine and that no one needed to fly out from Winnipeg to take care of me. She didn’t listen to me and left that evening. I am grateful every single day that she came because I was completely useless and unable to do most things myself for the following three months.

I began my recovery with a chiropractor, physiotherapist and occupational therapist. I kept attending school and I was determined to not fall behind and have to delay my certification. I missed one day of school total — the day of the accident.

My life became riding in cabs to school, home and various rehabilitation appointments. I became a recluse; unable to do anything I had done before. I went from teaching 13 boot camp classes per week, working out three times on my own and walking everywhere to no activity at all.

For the first two months of recovery I couldn’t walk more than one block without the pain becoming too overwhelming or having my leg swell up like a water balloon.

It was in the darkest period of my recovery that the idea for my business came to me. My body had started to change as a result of my injuries and lack of activity. I looked in the mirror, and for the first time in a long time, I truly hated my body.

I felt so helpless, depressed and out of control. After about a week of this I thought to myself, “some people feel like this every single day and I need to do something about it.”

I began to acknowledge the privileges I had. First of all, I’m alive. I could’ve died in that car! Second, I am a certified trainer and almost a Registered Holistic Nutritionist with an education in injury recovery that I can use to help heal my body. Third, pain is temporary. There is an end in sight, and I’m a small-medium sized white woman living in Canada and am fairly able bodied.

Lastly, I was asking myself why I feel the way I feel about my body in the first place?

This is when I began what I now call the “research” phase of my body positivity journey. I began looking internally to discover where my feelings about my body were coming from. My body isn’t working normally and I have cuts and bruises, butI will heal. I have more squishy bits, cellulite, scars, and flaws…wait why are they flaws? Who told me that cellulite was a flaw?

Answer: the beauty industry, diet culture and other media. In other words, I realized that this was something that I was taught and not something that was true or factual. Flaws don’t exist; they were created by someone who was profiting off of me hating my body!

This was when I began to make the connection between body positivity and the health and fitness industry. This was very foreign territory because after working within the fitness industry in some form over the past six years body positivity had literally never come up. No one seemed to know how to make the connection between the two.

How can you love your body and still want to change it physically?

The truth is that body positivity and body health are completely interconnected; you cannot have one without the other. Why do you move and exercise your body? Is it because you are punishing yourself for something you ate yesterday or will eat today? Flipping the switch and changing your mindset on why you exercise and nourish your body is an incredibly difficult and slow process, which is yet another reason why the diet industry makes billions of dollars every year.

Since starting My Body Fitness + Nutrition in January 2018, I have been called a hypocrite, had someone say I’m “not a real trainer” and been told I am promoting obesity. While I strongly disagree with what was said, I can see where they are coming from, because this has never been done before.

Body positivity has been either completely absent or just unwelcome in the health and fitness industry for far too long. The focus is always on “get rid of your stubborn belly fat” or “get your summer body ready”. Essentially do this, change that, look like this person and then you’ll be happy.

On the left: Sitting up straight, flexing, smiling, digging my green smoothie. On the right: Slouched, relaxed, smiling, still digging my green smoothie. BOTH = WORTHY ❤️🙌🏼 • Learning to love your body in all the shapes it can make can be tough but try and find the beauty in your squishy bits and all those other little things that society told you were flaws! It’s all a giant load of crap in order to profit off of you hating your body.💩 Rebel beauties, Flaws do not exist! Also now I can’t stop singing this in my head. 🎶They see me rollin’ they lovin’ 🎶 and honestly I don’t hate it. 😘 Have a fabulous day Body Lovers, and remember also that WORTH has NO size, number, shape, age, gender, race, etc. There is no limit on humanity, you are worthy because you exist. 💕💕🙌🏼🙌🏼 #thelimitdoesnotexist #worthy #theyseemerollin #theylovin #worthybecauseyouexist #flawsdonotexist #mybody #becauseilovemybody #bodypositivity #bodypositive #holisticnutrition #nutritionist #fitness #bodylove #selflove #selfcare #love #nofilter #mybodywpg #mybodyfitnessandnutrition #health #wpg #mb #supportlocal #lovelocal #wpgglow #soundslikemybody

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You must start with accepting and loving yourself exactly as you are in order to make any kind of positive change in your life. It’s not about throwing away your goals, just changing your perspective. Why are you doing it? Take time to notice what your body is capable of, more than what it looks like, because in reality body positivity has nothing to do with what your body looks like. Every single inch of you is worthy of love, acceptance and celebration! You are worthy because you exist.

The tagline for My Body Fitness + Nutrition is Because I Love My Body. I am bringing the body positivity movement to the health and fitness world. My ‘aha’ moment, my calling, this was what I was meant to do!!

After this revelation my recovery became easier to deal with, and to this day even though I’m still living with chronic pain, I know that the car accident was meant to happen to me.

The moment you realize that you were born naturally flawless, is the moment you become free. • Free to not only accept your body as it is, but love it completely. • Free to celebrate your body for all that it is and all that it can do. Rather than punishing it for what it is not. • Free from all the negative images, words, and thoughts thrown your way every day that tell you that you are not enough. You will know that you are more than enough. Don’t let the people who created flaws to profit off of you hating yourself win. Say it loud for the people in the back!! Flaws do not exist!! 🙌🏼💕 #mybody #becauseilovemybody #bodypositivity #bodypositive #bopo #inspiration #holisticnutrition #nutritionist #fitness #bodylove #selflove #selfcare #love #nofilter #mybodywpg #mybodyfitnessandnutrition #health #wpg #mb #supportlocal #lovelocal #wpgglow #flawsdonotexist #effyourbeautystandards #free

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What comes next for Brooke and her business

Can you imagine walking into a gym knowing that you are already flawless as you are? Walking in, knowing it is a truly judgment free environment where everyone is there sweating, laughing, learning all with the mindset that they are there because they love their body? Sound like a dream?

🚨THE MOST IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT OF ALL🚨 Announcing the location of the first ever BODY POSITIVE GROUP FITNESS GYM!!!! Aka MY BODY FITNESS + NUTRITION!!!!!! Opening its doors FALL 2018😍😍🙌🏼🙌🏼 3655 ROBLIN BLVD, just past the Assiniboine Park + the Zoo. This has been a dream of mine for soooo long to create a space for ALL people and ALL BODIES to come together, sweat, laugh, and learn together all with the mindset that they are all there Because they Love their Bodies!! This space will host 30 minute Group Fitness classes 6 days a week Monday-Saturday, 8 classes per day, and 4 classes on Saturdays! As well my Nutritional consulting office for 1 on 1 holistic nutrition consultations! Both available for monthly memberships! Plus monthly community events hosted in the space on Sundays! Everything from workshops, Body Positive meet ups, fundraisers, other community building events and so much MORE!! To say I can’t wait to open and share this space and labor of love with all of you is an understatement!! I am ecstatic, and now it’s time to get to work!!!! I’ll be posting behind the scenes looks at the progress of the location on here so stay tuned!! And if you want a sneak peak inside check out my stories today!! My Body is bringing Body Positivity to the Health and Fitness world!! IT’S HAPPENING!!!😭❤️ Do you want to be a part of the My Body community???❤️❤️ #mybody #mybodyfall2018 #mybodylocation #bodypositivegroupfitness #becauseilovemybody #bodypositivity #bodypositive #holisticnutrition #nutritionist #fitness #bodylove #selflove #selfcare #love #nofilter #mybodywpg #mybodyfitnessandnutrition #health #wpg #mb #supportlocal

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Winnipeg’s first ever body positive group fitness gym and nutritional consulting service will be available Fall 2018. Stay tuned!

For more bo-po power and info about Brooke’s business follow @mybodywpg on Instagram.

 

WHAT I POSTED VS. WHAT WAS ACTUALLY HAPPENING IN FOUR OF MY INSTA PICS

Whether it’s a beautiful moment in a sunbeam you happen to capture on your phone, a purposefully crafted flat lay shot with a DSLR camera, or something sexy you make happen with self-timer — Instagram is all of the above.

My goal with my Instagram account these days is to make people think critically, foster connection and remind people the platform is a selection, not a reflection, of reality. Sometimes I hit the mark. Sometimes I’m a little too deep. Sometimes I have a little too much wine and hit post.

But at the core, if I post something it means I don’t want to forget that moment for some reason or another.

I wrote a post on my old blog deconstructing some of my Instagram pictures and I thought I’d do round two with new photos since my use of the app has changed a lot since then.


A big #mood

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What I was aiming for

It’s Saturday night and I’m feeling sassy. Maybe I’ve had a few glasses of wine, and I’m definitely going out. Might be a thirst trap (?) but it’s still classy so it passes as fashion focused.

Reality

Yep, this is a thirst trap. Not for anybody in particular, but holding it at arms length I guess I’d call it that. Sometimes when you are feeling yourself (and I definitely was because I had consumed two glasses of wine which is a lot for me) you get your girlfriends to be your personal paparazzi. I literally instructed my friend Sam to squat down lower because I’m 5’3 and my legs look like stumps if you take a photo of me dead on. I believe you’d say this is me “working the angles.”

Here’s the thing: I had made the effort to do my eyeshadow and put on a cute outfit and I didn’t want it to be wasted on the wedding *social I was going to. I briefly thought about making the caption something thoughtful but then I kept saying “that’s a mood,” and it sort of stuck.  I didn’t actually end up drinking the glass of wine in my hand.

*Side note if you are not from Manitoba: a social is where people drink for really cheap, dance, eat chips and salami on rye bread with mustard and buy raffle tickets all in a school gym or community club – not a fancy event. I was extremely overdressed.

Enjoy some outtakes for context.

 

Takeaway

This is not something I would typically post, but between the wine and the outfit — I was feelin’ myself. No shame in the game.

p.s. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck then it’s probably a duck. Same goes for thirst traps.

 

What I was aiming for

I’m spontaneous and fun! I spend my Sundays doing self-care activities and following my heart. I am carefree and independent.

Reality

This morning when I was about to start driving I put the keys in the car and started crying. I was fresh out of a breakup and emotionally fragile at the time and I knew I needed a change of scenery, so my parents lent me their car for the day.

I needed to be alone with my thoughts for a day and get some distance from my apartment. Being outside always makes me feel better and mends any wounds. It was really cold that day but I still went for a three-hour walk on the beach. I meditated on the pier and stared at birds. I walked around an empty tourist town. I went to the bar in town and ate fish and chips alone. On the way out of town, I stopped for gas and left my wallet in the bathroom so I had to drive back the next night to get it.

Takeaway

You have no idea why someone is doing what they are doing or what sort of place their vague artsy caption is coming from. Don’t assume.

 

What I was aiming for

I’m fashionable and I know how to roll with the punches and rock whatever look I’m serving that day. Also, look at that architecture!! I’m a bonAfide Instagrammer.

Reality

I hated my bangs. Like capital H hated them because they were so short. My friend Sam must’ve told me fifty times during this trip that my hair looked fine but for some stupid reason I wasn’t listening. I was feeling REALLY self-conscious, so I figured if I called attention to them nobody could say anything because I clearly already knew how weird they look???

Honestly even typing that out ^ makes me realize how crazy I am sometimes. Nobody cares in reality. Also I basically art directed this photo and it is very staged, but I’m not mad about it.

Takeaway

Not everyone on Instagram is as confident as they seem to be, including me. In fact, I’ll fully admit I care far too much what people think. I’m working on it.

What I was aiming for

Just a basic-ass selfie of me having fun with my friend at a sports-related event. I’m sure there are 1000 other photos posted that were similar to this one. Hockey!!!!

Reality

I was really struggling this day but I held it together and went out since my friend Michelle was only in town for 10 days and I didn’t want to bail. I was having a depressive episode and I had to let her know in advance I wasn’t feeling great, which was embarrassing. I ended up having a few beers which numbed the feelings for a while but I definitely had the booze blues the next day.

Takeaway

Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about, whether it’s internally or externally. I’ve noticed that women tend to get written off as ‘basic’ a lot whereas the label doesn’t tend to be applied to men as much. While it’s meant to be funny, I think it also sometimes implies that the person is one dimensional and incapable of deep thought and emotion — which isn’t true at all.


I’m trying to incorporate more honesty and transparency into everything I put out into the world. We all know Instagram isn’t a good reflection of reality, but a reminder never hurts.

What Comes Next has it’s own Insta page by the way and I always keep it real on there. Promise.

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THE IMPORTANCE & IMPACT OF THE PEOPLE YOU IDOLIZE

The people and content you consume has an impact on you, like it or not.

Mentors, heroes, career crushes, spirit animals, and/or people you admire on social media. Whatever you want to call them — these are the people you look up to. What do they say about you? As I’ve matured, the people I admire and the reasons I admire them have changed greatly, which I think is pretty normal.

The funny part is, I feel like I’ve been the same person all along but somehow, at one point, I got caught in the trap of idolizing people for their lifestyles, looks and social circles (or at least how those two things appear on social media). Not only did I idolize these people, but I tried to be like them.

It was like I kept trying to shove the glass slipper on my foot but the shoe just never fit right. The more I tried (even when I couldn’t afford to), the more I struggled with my identity and where I was at. I wasn’t happy, and I felt there was a constant battle going on inside me between forcing myself to fit into this ecosystem and being myself.

Little by little, I started putting down those heavy expectations that I had put on myself. I didn’t even realize how much they had been weighing on me and stunting me from my potential. Eventually I threw the glass slipper out the f*cking window and replaced it with a sneaker. I’ll let you extrapolate what that must’ve looked like in my life, but it took a longggggg freaking time y’all.

From time to time I still catch myself carrying some of that weight. I’m only human, and old habits die hard when these types of influences are everywhere. After all, lusting after social status is good for the economy. *COugh* Kardashians *couGH coUgh*

While some of what I’m talking about might seem obvious, it can actually be really hard to admit to yourself that the stuff you are consuming has an impact on you. Here’s an example: I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but I love watching Youtube videos. Last week I un-subscribed from no less than 20 channels. I finally realized that the lives of the people I watch on Youtube look nothing like my own, which is totally fine and people are entitled to do them, but I hit a point where I had to ask myself “why the HELL am I watching a vlog where someone talks about their $100 face cream in great detail?” Yet, for some reason I’ve mindlessly watched her videos for years.

If I don’t aspire to live like her — what’s the point? 

If you are taking in something that makes you feel less-than for whatever reason, shut that sh*t down. Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat — WHATEVER. Hold it at arms length and ask if it’s serving you to be looking at it.

The most important part of the transition, for me, was seeking out and finding new people to look up to that are living life authentically, passionately and with self-love. Who are unafraid of being different and working on themselves unapologetically. Who are making their own rules, or saying screw the rules altogether. Who are living the example and being brave in their own lives. Who are growing and changing constantly (just like me) and aren’t afraid to admit it. People I can relate to. People who accept me as I am.

They are now my friends. My peers. My family. My idols. My spirit animals (yup I’m one of those annoying people that still says that).

Go forth and find your true self in others you look up to. Or maybe a version of yourself you aspire to be (but not in an unhealthy way, yenno?). Don’t be afraid to explore why you admire them and work hard to cultivate that in yourself. Be around people who lift you up and make you proud to be who you are.


Remember: we are the sum, or average, of the five people we surround ourselves with the most. So don’t be afraid to invite someone you admire out to get a coffee.

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A LOVE LETTER TO ANYONE WHO STRUGGLES WITH SELF LOVE

I know how hard it is to have a lack of self-love, and I love you for it. I want you to love yourself for it too.

I bought a book a few years ago called ‘Unworthy: how to stop hating yourself’. The cover posed the question what would you do today if you didn’t despise yourself? I remember hiding the book from people when I would read it in public.

“If you’ve felt so unworthy, so unlovable, so alone for a long time, then to realize that maybe you can feel a different way about yourself actually makes some people incredibly sad. It feels like coming home — but coming home can unleash a great deal of sorrow. It’s a ‘missed-you-so-much, where-have-you-been’ situation.”

Anneli Rufus

My counsellor at the time told me she thought people might be surprised if they knew how I really felt about myself. I mean, it’s not like you can wear a lapel pin that says “I am full of shame, and I feel like a horrible person.”

To explain, I spent most of my life hating myself. I think the interchangeable saying would be saying I have very low self-esteem, but when I was looking for the book I found above, I Googled how to stop hating yourself.

If I had to describe what it’s like to have a total lack of self-esteem, I would say it’s like sentencing yourself to live in a cave — it’s all out there to experience, but you just can’t bring yourself to do it. You don’t deserve to see sunlight. You convince yourself this is where you belong, and that the world out there isn’t for you. Maybe you’ve gone out before and it made you want to never do it again. You hide yourself, horrified people will see how ugly you really are. You are both the jailor and the prisoner.

What does a lack of self-love look like?

A lack of worthiness can show itself so many different ways. Many of them might look like personality flaws, odd behaviours, or quirks on the surface.

  • Saying sorry too much, because you really are sorry you exist
  • Saying yes to everything, because you are afraid of what will happen if you say no
  • Avoiding choice and leaving your fate in the hands of others
  • Stunting your own growth and blunting your feelings, even the good ones
  • Struggling with vulnerability
  • Replaying the past and letting it dictate your present feelings
  • Driving your life into the ground with self destructive behaviour
  • Deflecting praise
  • Internalizing failure, shame, guilt and error
  • Staying in situations that are unhealthy or don’t make you happy (this also can look like being loyal to a fault)
  • Letting other people’s opinions dictate how you feel about yourself
  • Lashing out or closing down because of shame
  • Wanting things but denying yourself them
  • Getting mad at yourself for not liking yourself, and so forth

Any of these sound familiar?

First things first — these things are not your fault. These behaviours are learned from life experience. I don’t care what anybody says, if you’ve ever felt the pain of feeling worthless, that shit is horrible and equivalent to getting a tooth pulled with no freezing. We adapt to those pains. We act in response to that pain. Sometimes we’d do just about anything to avoid that pain (some of them are a protective mechanism to avoid further pain).

For people reading this who don’t know what this is like, it’s the difference between forgetting someone special’s birthday and thinking “oh shoot, I feel bad, I’ll make sure to send that person flowers and write it my calendar for next year,” and “I’m a shitty friend who isn’t there for the people I care about, I’m going to call them and apologize profusely for forgetting and try hard for the next month to make it up to them.”

Lol true story on my part, but yeah. You get the idea.

Now that I have hindsight, I look back at the things I did as a result of that pain I was causing myself, and I’m not terribly surprised I did them.

Awareness is half the battle. Once you can start recognizing these behaviours and how they impact your life, change comes next. I highly recommend you call in the big guns for change: a counsellor/therapist/psychologist will definitely help get you there faster if your resources will allow for it (work with whichever works best for you).

Even now that my life and feelings toward myself have changed drastically, and I have a very high level of awareness of my self-hatred habits, I haven’t been able to kick them all the way out just yet. And that’s ok. It takes a lot of time and a lot of work.

But we’ll get there.

These thoughts and actions aren’t YOU

It doesn’t matter how we get in the cave, or how deep we are in. Everyone has their own challenges and experiences that drive us in there. I am telling you that no matter what has happened to you, or what you have done, or what has been done to you, you don’t deserve to be in there.

This is going to sound really weird, but every time I feel myself retreating back into the cave, I ask “have I robbed someone lately? hit a pedestrian? lit a house on fire?” Sometimes we feel the need to back in for the smallest of things, but these phrases help put things in perspective sometimes when I think I’ve done something I feel like I’ll  never forgive myself for.

This whole blog is about the moment you step out of the cave into the blinding sun and it’s so beautiful it brings you to your knees.

I remember the moment I realized I could feel differently about myself. I sobbed uncontrollably, not only because I was mourning all the years I’ve spent “in the cave” but also because I had never had hope like that before.

Just because society screams at you to be thinner, smarter, manlier, anything-er doesn’t mean you can’t come out of the cave as you are. It actually means you NEED to come out the cave as you are.

I want to share something I read in that book I mentioned earlier.

“Our true selves are the selves we were before we twisted, bent, and beat ourselves into the shapes we had to take in order to please others: the shapes that we hate. Our true selves are the selves we would have been had no one tried to break or shame or change us. Our true selves are what those who actually love us see in us. Our true selves are who we have always been, even if they have been in hiding all this time. Our true selves are who we will, in that sheer blue zone above self-loathing, always be.”
Anneli Rufus, Unworthy: How to Stop Hating Yourself

The true you is in there somewhere. When you do come out, you be a force to be reckoned with. In the meantime, don’t hate yourself more for it. You’ll get there.

Accepting your experiences

The time you spent hating on yourself? You’ll never get it back. But it taught you a lot, created some really special traits within you, and made your goals and purpose so much stronger. It is not lost time.

Once you realize that you’re worth fighting for, you’ll never be able to un-realize it. The journey from there is a long game full of rediscovery, mistakes and triumphs. Back sliding into the old habits that are well worn grooves in our brains. Charging forward and standing up for ourselves in small ways.

Everything I’ve talked about doing in this blog — finding hobbies, making new friends, learning lessons, letting myself feel sad and so much more — have all been part of my process of coming out of that cave. It has literally been life saving, in every way. Even this blog has been an act of self-love in the face of raging self-doubt.

Just by having a blog, I have become vulnerable. It is terrifying and worth it. Every time I post something, I remind myself that this is for me — as much as it’s for the internet to read.

What have you done for yourself like this? Hold it tight. Appreciate it. Celebrate it. Don’t let anyone take it from you or make you feel differently about it.

What will you start doing? Something to ponder on for your new years resolutions.

Learning to knit won’t undo years of trauma or f*cked up shit, but these things subconsciously say to your brain, “it’s time to start rebuilding regardless of those things.” Every time you try something new you show yourself that anything is possible.

Being good as a result of feeling bad, and asking for a hand up

You can grow positive traits as a result of being someone who hasn’t always felt good about themselves. You might become more compassionate and empathetic, never take a moment of joy for granted, be introspective and maybe “a little too deep/intense” for some people (and that’s ok) and so many other good things.

I am not claiming to be on the other side of self-hatred. More like, I have come out of the cave, cried in happiness a bunch, stumbled around and wondered what the hell to do, and now I’m slowly starting the process of hiking away. It does pull me back from time to time, but the more tools, lessons and tricks I have up my sleeve the better shape I’m in to run further away.

While the war is fought inside your head, having people there is crucial. They can’t fight it for you, but they can be a huge influence on your mindset.

People who can see this struggle to improve in you, and can appreciate it, are worth keeping around.

People who are empathetic and will be vulnerable in return are worth keeping around.

People who hold you accountable to the person you want to be and don’t let you talk shit about yourself or about others are worth keeping around.

People who make you want to love yourself more are worth keeping around.

There is so much self-love in going through the process of rebuilding your self-esteem, even if it doesn’t feel that way. There is love in realizing and acknowledging things need to change. There is love in every small and defiant act of vulnerability. There is so much love in self-compassion and care.

And you deserve it all.


While this post was based on the literature I’ve read and my personal experience, I recognize that everyone’s experiences and situations are very different and I have privilege in being able to afford a counsellor, books and so forth. I wish you all the best on your personal journey, whatever it may look like.

I hope that one day you’ll be able to look back at old journal entries and realize how much you’ve changed. It’s an amazing feeling.

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