Love Yourself Before You Love Anyone Else (And Other Silly Things People Say)

"You must be very polite with yourself when you are learning something new."

- Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Love Yourself Before You Love Anyone Else
Loving yourself is hard. I used to subscribe to the idea that you have to love yourself before you love anyone else. I used to believe I had to love myself until anyone else could love me. But this phrase, this silly, ridiculous phrase, forgets that loving oneself is a life-long task. To think I need to learn how to love all of the bits and pieces of me that have been said by society, by the media, and by that boy in my grade 10 math class are unlovable is a daunting thought. I've hated various parts of my body at different points in my life, I know how hard loving yourself is—it doesn't magically happen when you wake one morning. To say someone cannot love another without loving themselves first is toxic; it creates rules and boundaries and fences around what love is and who is allowed to give it. I've been waking up with myself for 23 years and sometimes it's hard to love myself, but I can see the good in people so it's easier for me to love them. Life is long and we are forever trying to get to that place of self-love and acceptance. It doesn't mean you need someone else to love you, but I think it's nice that someone else can love you while you are practicing and learning self-love yourself. It's not about being dependent on someone else's love; it's about working with the love you have and trying to help it grow. You aren't unlovable because you don't love yourself right now; you're worthy of love and you're worthy of being loved just the way you are. 

It Could Be Worse/People Have It Worse Than You Do/Well, I've Had It Worse
Diminishing one's emotions because people have it far worse is a One of the major quotes I remember from the book, Perks of Being A Wallflower reads: “I think that if I ever have kids, and they are upset, I won't tell them that people are starving in China or anything like that because it wouldn't change the fact that they were upset. And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn't really change the fact that you have what you have.” It's unhealthy for people to dismiss your feelings because someone in the world might have it worse. Let's be real: tons of the people have it worse than us, but that doesn't mean you can't be incredibly upset, angry, or lost. You can (and should) be aware of the people around the world that are struggling or hurting, but you're allowed to struggle and hurt, too. The only positive thing this statement reminds us of is that we are not alone in our despair, which can be comforting at times.

Choose Happiness
Out of all of the things on this list, this might just be the most problematic one. If there was the option to always be happy, do people not think others would choose it over being sad every single time? By telling someone that deals with any mental illness to just be happy, this can cause the person to feel like a burden, but also can further the idea that there is something wrong with them because they can't just be happy like everyone else seems to be. You can choose to get out of bed every morning, you can choose to put on a smile and talk with other people, but you can't just flip a switch and choose to be happy. Those dealing with mental illness are trying their hardest every single day, let's not try to make anyone think they should just be able to switch on happiness and switch off depression. Instead, let's choose to be there for each other when they need it. Let's choose being there when we can. Let's choose empathy and collectivity. 

You Would Look Prettier/More Attractive Without/With ____
I've wanted a pixie cut since I was 18, but have had ex-boyfriends and friends tell me that I wouldn't look pretty with it, and because of this I've never had a pixie cut. I was more concerned with other people thinking I'm pretty than just cutting my hair and being happy. The year is 2016 and we are all still pressured to look a certain way or fit a certain standard to be considered attractive and, as a result, to be considered dateable. There is a wonderful saying that goes something like you shouldn't point out things about a person's appearance if they can't fix it in ten seconds and I think we should all abide by it. Something in my teeth? Let me know! I have something stuck to my shoe? Feel free to let me know! But anything about a person's appearance, like their weight, the colour or length of their hair, or anything else that makes them who the are? Keep it to yourself. I know wearing glasses doesn't make me conventionally pretty or attractive, but they do help me see when I want to cross a street and avoiding getting hit by a car is more important than getting hit on.

Feminism is About Women Being Better Than Men
When I hear people say they aren't feminists because they believe in equality (I'm looking at you, SJP) or that they aren't feminists because they believe feminism as being something that consists of burning bras and destroying men, my eyes roll so far back into my head I'm worried they might roll out. Feminism isn't about this—it's about equality within every social intersection—race, class, sexuality, and other identity markers. It's about inclusion and not exclusion—knowing that all women may experience sexism, but not all women experience radicalized sexism, and it's knowing that men may face aggression, but not all men face police brutality. It's not about women being better than men. It's problematic and toxic to believe we all face the same day-to-day injustices, which is why it's important to education yourself. I've been learning about feminism, my privilege, and how to decenter my own perspective of feminism and I'm still learning. I've accepted that I'm never going to be a perfect feminist. I don't know how to speak eloquently about social issues and I'm always, always worried that what I say is incorrect and speaking from a place of privilege (even writing about this is scary) but making mistakes is helping me learn further. If you're like me and you're still learning, sites like Everyday Feminism and books like Bad Feminist are great places to start.

Girls Can't Do That/Girls Mature Faster Than Boys/He's Just Doing That Because He Likes You
Or maybe we should stop giving boys a free pass for acting immature or rough when they are children, so girls don't grow up thinking abuse equals love. I'm tired of hearing comments surrounding girls and boys and maturity, as if girls must be adults immediately and boys get to be the ones to flounder for as long as they please. Many people in the world are tired of hearing hypocritical comments towards situations, like telling girls ways to prevent sexual assault instead of telling boys to not assault someone in the first place, or perpetuating the idea that girls can only work certain jobs or that girls cannot do everything & anything boys can do. This way of thinking also puts boys in strict, unbreakable boxes; society tells boys that they can't be emotional, that their bodies must look like Calvin Klein underwear models, or that they must be aggressive over sensitive and be incredibly amazing at sex. Girls are meant to be pure, boys are meant to be sex-mad. It's unhealthy to put people in boxes on what they are meant to be, and we all need feminism to break down these barriers (and many more) that the media and society has put up for us.

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