7 Examples of Self-Love an Instagram Influencer Won’t Tell You


A little while ago, I went to write another article somewhat related to self-love, and when I was looking for a fitting stock photo, this article was born.

Why? Because self-love doesn’t look like this:


Photos by Jackson David, Sarah Wolfe, Mathilde Langevin, and Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

No offense to these photographers, because they’re fantastic photos. And maybe they didn’t even have anything to do with indexing these in the “self-love” category.

I’m just so sick of the culture that some of social media has created. Apps like Instagram are a business, and I can’t stand that we pretend that they’re not. And while the people using an app like this may have genuine intentions, the fact remains that lust sells. Instagram preys on the idea that you want to believe that the people you look up to — the people you follow —have something figured out.

It makes us feel good to think that there’s a shortcut, and more importantly, that there’s a finish line at all.

And when you feel good, you come back. Because the moment you don’t feel good, you can simply open up the app again and hope to find that feeling again, even just for a second. So we like the idea that maybe the most popular people on the planet are popular because they figured out how to attain some final-boss-level of happiness or love.

But the point is: actual, real self-love almost never looks like this, at least in my experience. It’s never packaged neatly, and it isn’t somewhere you can arrive and be done, where suddenly you’re ordained to pass the formula on to others. Especially at first, when you’re just learning what it is and how to do it.

So the irony here is that I’m now going to tell you what it actually might look like. I know, I know. What gives me the right? Why would you now listen to me?

The answer isn’t because this is Medium and not Instagram. And it’s not because I spent a year in a Buddhist monastery eat-pray-loving myself to death or something.

One difference is: I’m not going to wrap it up neatly with a photo of myself drinking a latte in an industrial chic loft. It might be a little boring and mundane — perhaps even a little scattered.

Another differentiator is that I’m just going to tell you what it looked like for me, and I hope to inspire you to find similar moments in your life.

Lastly, it’s important to note that it’s perfectly okay to suck at it. You’ll probably suck at it your whole life, honestly. But the truth is: self-love isn’t something you master.

It’s more like playing golf. You’ll spend most of the time frustrated with yourself, constantly trying to fine-tune and tweak the tiniest of habits. You’ll overcorrect one day and under-correct the next. Some days you’ll decide it’s probably best to just play the slice and not try to fix anything at all. You’ll show up late, spend a lot of time side-tracked or looking for your damn ball, and you’ll stop to drink a beer or two along the way. Most of the time, it’s not pretty. But every once in a while, you’ll hit that perfect shot that reminds you that it’s all worth it.

And there are probably more professional golfers than people who would be considered professional in the sport of “self-love.”

What Self-Love Might Actually Look Like

A Not-So Dirty Bathroom

You don’t have to hang up Eucalyptus in your shower or have a mid-century tub and a trendy bath bomb. Sometimes just cleaning it up a little exhibits a discipline and organization that says, “I care about the area in which I clean myself.” And that’s enough.

To-Do Lists

I can’t stress this enough: to-do lists are a fantastic way to practice self-love and self-accountability. By making tiny little promises to yourself in the form of tasks, and then fulfilling them, you can become confident in all sorts of abilities. Make them easy to-do lists — start small.

Spread Sheets of Your Debt

Find out what kind of hole you’re actually in. Most of the world is in debt, but the vast majority of that group of people also lies to themselves about how much. Acknowledging an actual number is a simple way to practice being truthful to yourself while simultaneously setting expectations and maybe even a goal or two.

Decent Posture

Work on sitting upright and maintaining good posture. Not only are there proven scientific links between good posture and reduced stress, but this simple action also improves your image in others’ eyes. And though that’s not the goal, it certainly helps to have a support system when you’re looking to improve your self-esteem. And it’s always better to have your support empowered with confidence instead of pity.

Saying “No” to Friends

Sometimes, self-love will actually manifest in saying “no” to people that matter to you. Obviously you don’t want to push people away entirely, because that may wind up with you being more alone than ever, which can make self-love all the more challenging. But setting boundaries with your friends from time to time can help to re-instill your belief that you matter.

Crying In Your Car

Self-love isn’t pretty. That’s the whole point of this article. From time to time, simply embracing that truth is all you need to do. Let yourself cry when you’re sad. Maybe it will hit you after you socialize with people that you’re realizing you don’t actually like. Or perhaps you will find yourself crying because a commute was so frustrating that it caused a breakdown. Either way, let it happen because you need to learn to process and nurture negative emotions, just as you need to learn to process and nurture positive ones.

Dog Walks and Poop Bags

Find beauty in the mundane. I’m not saying that dog poop bags are pretty, but by exercising discipline with simple, boring (and sometimes gross) tasks, you can build on that and learn to execute more complex functions. If you have a dog, you’ve probably figured out that it can really test you every now and again. It forces you to be accountable, consistent, and discipline — in return, the dog will provide you with unwavering love. Enjoy that relationship for what it is, keep picking up the shit, and try to remind yourself that you’re worth depending on.

Learning to love yourself is like learning any other craft or discipline. You have to practice with the small things. And they don’t have to be beautifully aesthetic metaphors. Self-love often exists in the stupidest, most tedious activities.

“Means are ends in the making.” — Mohandas Gandhi

Sometimes the work you put in to hopefully “achieve” self-love is actually all the self-love you really need. Try to simply take note and keep going.

This post was previously published on medium.com.


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