I started this blog almost 4 years ago. Over that time its gone through numerous makeovers and captured some amazing memories.
But one thing I've rarely done is get personal, preferring to concentrate on the exciting things I've done and places I've visited.
There are two reasons why that is.
First, I write the types of blog posts that I enjoy reading myself - ones that allow you to escape from reality and that open your eyes to all the incredible things this world has to offer.
And secondly, I usually just like to keep how I'm feeling to myself. It's not that I can't open up, but rather that I find expressing my feelings out loud difficult to do. Instead of speaking to someone, I prefer to write. Yep, I have a diary! And I've written in it (well in 4 of them) on and off for the last 10 years. Maybe it's not so surprising that I have a blog!
Anyway, despite not normally getting personal, I thought with Spring finally starting to show itself it was about time to open up a bit more.
For the first time in a long time, I am completely happy with who I am.
A big statement I know.
It's not that I've not been happy, but more that I've had the tendency to be critical of myself and of my achievements.
No matter what I've achieved or how much affirmation I've had from those around me, there's always been a voice inside my head convincing me that I'm not enough.
And though I've always acted confident, on the inside I've been questioning every decision, every action, every sentence spoken.
I'm particularly guilty, as I suspect we all are to an extent, of negatively comparing myself to others. Invariably concluding that I'm less; less smart, less talented, less beautiful - the list goes on.
I'd be lying if I said that I'd stopped judging myself against others. It's human nature to look at those around you and make a judgement on oneself.
But what I have done is appreciate the fact that I can only ever be me.
I seem to have finally accepted myself for who I am. I've learned to love my flaws and my insecurities.
Maybe it's got something to do with living in a city like Amsterdam, in which the work-life balance is greatly tipped towards the latter. Maybe it's the fact I've been able to have a fresh start somewhere new. Or maybe it's because I'm finally putting myself first.
Whatever it is it's working.
Not only am I feeling happier, but I'm also more energised, positive and productive. Basically, I'm feeling pretty damn good.
That being said I don't want to sit here and go off about how great things are for me when I know there will be many of you reading this that aren't in the same headspace. But I want to reassure you that things really can get better. Even the smallest changes can make a huge difference.
So here are two things which I have found to be really helpful in promoting self-love.
Getting up early. By this, I mean setting your alarm for at least 30 mins before you actually need to get up. Then take that half an hour to do something for yourself. Personally, I make a cup of tea and then sit in bed reading. But you could also meditate, go for a walk, or do some yoga. It's a chance to take a moment of quiet before the chaos of the day.
Saying No. I know it's difficult but, sometimes in life, we need to be a little selfish. Too often we're focused more on not letting others down than we are on ourselves. If you want to have a night in front of the TV, have a night in front of the TV! Make sure you give yourself the same attention and respect that you give others.
Writing a more personal post hasn't turned out to be as difficult as I thought it would be. Maybe I need to recognise that, just as my life isn't always filled with exciting things, my blog can't only be about new experiences. After all, it might exist in the virtual world, but it's based on my reality.
Anyway enough rambling!
I was trying to think of a good way to wrap this post up when I remembered a Dr Seuss quote which I think captures perfectly the importance of loving yourself and being happy with who you are:
"Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You"