by Stevie Palmer, Staff Writer

In a world characterised by social norms, patriarchal limitations and social constraints, it can be hard to navigate the troubling times of your twenties. 

With society constantly telling you how you should act and who you should be, it feels near to impossible to be who you want and to discover how you want your life independent of these pressures. From how you should look, dress, talk, walk and sleep it feels as though life is one big cycle of other peoples ill-informed comments and prying eyes. I myself got lost in the hazy jungle that is society, until I uncovered self-love. 

In a world riddled by such constraints the only way I found to be truly and honestly happy is to look within. Self-love doesn’t just mean loving yourself all the time. It means loving yourself regardless of the opinion of others (especially when there is a plethora of sorts). To live your life in a way that feels honest and fills you with a sense of security and happiness. As long as you’re doing that, then the opinions of others become null and void. 

As someone who struggles from acne, I understand more than most the importance of resilience and self-love as an act of resistance. From horrible stares to unsolicited advice about water consumption, the comments never end. 

When I first got acne, I used to really let these comments affect me. I would constantly cover up my face with my jumper or hand, wear obscene amounts of makeup or thanks to Covid, always walkabout in a mask. Not only did this not help me feel better about my acne, it didn’t help me to feel better about myself. After discovering self-love, I quickly learnt that we cannot control the actions or opinions of other people, we can only control how we choose to respond to them, so that’s exactly what I decided to do. 

I decided to love myself regardless. Regardless of the shame that comes from having an uncontrollable skin condition, and the pressure that comes from the media and especially the beauty industry to conform to their monolithic ideals of beauty. I thought of all the things that make me special, and so incredibly exquisite beyond my physiology; and I decided that my worth as a human being was more than other people’s opinions and perceptions of me. 

My body is the least interesting thing about me. 

It can be hard, when it feels as though the Eye of Sauron is following you and your every move. But instead of leaning in and allowing society to tell you who you are and who you should be. Instead, turn within, and look to find the beauty that seeps from your very soul, grab hold of it, and keep it close to you. 

No matter how many times society tries to beat you down, they can never remove that essence that makes you so uniquely you. Own it and use that to fuel the fire of your resistance against the incessant judgement that society condemns you to. As once you find it, it’s something no-one will ever be able to take away from you.

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