This article was originally published for The Odyssey on September 13, 2017.
Self-love isn’t easy. Realizing the person in the mirror is the person other people see is even harder. When people give you compliments, you may shy away or lash out, because you don’t see the person they do. You know what is easy, though? Complimenting other people. When I say all my friends are beautiful, it’s because they are.
Ever since I was young, I’ve had trouble making long-term friends. My mom and grandmother have friends from elementary, middle and high school still and that concept was so foreign to me growing up. How can you bond with someone and be patient with them for so long? How could you enjoy each other’s company for more than 20 years? Could such a thing even be possible in today’s world?
I had dealt with so much negativity in my school years that I struggled to see beauty in anything, nonetheless myself. I had friends who seemed sweet at first, but turned out to be vicious later. There was so much toxicity in my friendships that I thought friendship was meant to be that way. I didn’t know what healthy friendships were; I didn’t know that healthy relationships, period, could exist at all.
It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I came to terms with what the word ‘friendship’ even meant. I had never experienced a ‘true’ friend, so to say, and it wasn’t until I left high school and transitioned into college that I understood anything about friendship. They say you find your real friends when you go through a difficult life event, such as a transition or illness. I cannot stress how completely true this is.
Though I didn’t have such a hard time transitioning into college, my friends did. Those who I kept in contact with formed a strong bond with me, one that is unbreakable to this day. When I say all my friends are beautiful, I mean it. All of my friends are beautiful, inside and out.
When you’ve been friends with someone through a stressful event, that is either your own or something on their side, you see all the beauty they have to offer. After you’ve seen someone at both their best and worst, it’s easy to see the beauty they express in a plethora of different ways.
When I say my friends are beautiful, it’s not a lie I tell them to make them feel better about themselves. All the friends I have right now are long-term friends. They are people whom I trust; people I could tell anything to without judgment and vice-versa. They are people who have stuck with me through the good, the bad and the in-between. I won’t call you a friend if I can’t trust you. The word will not even slip out of my mouth.
Even when my friends have parts of them that aren’t beautiful, I will still call them beautiful, because no one is perfect. Everyone has ugly flaws and everyone makes mistakes. Choosing to work on their mistakes and accept their flaws makes them even more beautiful, in my opinion.
If loving yourself isn’t so easy, or it’s a concept you haven’t yet grasped, you’ll be able to feel love by spreading love. Smile by spreading smiles and feeling positivity by spreading positivity are great ways to give yourself love when you aren’t quite sure of how to do so. You should always be a friend to yourself, even if that means something as small as treating yourself to a bath once in awhile or listening to your favorite music.
When you say that your friends are beautiful, it’s because they are. When your friends say that you are beautiful, it is because they have seen the same things in you. It is because they see something you can’t. Always be a friend to yourself, above everything else. Remember, you are truly beautiful, too, even if when you say that your friends are beautiful, you don’t mean you.