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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, and consuming with a conscience

Real Talk: Please Date Yourself

This might seem like an odd suggestion from someone who is planning to go and look at a wedding venue in two days time, but I'm a firm believer in the best person to date is yourself. As we've just had Valentine's Day a couple of days ago it really got me thinking - how many of us have hang ups and issues with ourselves and therefore don't learn how to love ourselves yet we seek out others to do that exact thing we can bring ourselves to do?

I am 100% guilty of not loving myself in the past - I've always had an issue with my body, my appearance, my personality... It has all come under fire from my own negative mind and it has taken its toll on my confidence and self-assurance over the years. In the last couple of years though I've tried my absolute hardest to turn that around and I urge everyone who ever feels remotely similar to do the same. Don't get me wrong, it's extremely difficult and pretty much impossible to just turn around and think "right, I'm going to start loving myself tomorrow" because that's not how these things work, but gradually altering your mindset to be comfortable with who you are and being confident in at least some aspects that make you you is does work if you stick at it. So I'm going to suggest some ways in which you might be able to be a little more sassy in yourself and be happier with what you see in the mirror and deal with everyday in your own mind.

- Take yourself on a date or twenty. I can't stress enough how great I think solo dates are. The thought of doing something like going for a meal alone or going to the cinema alone would have sounded like the saddest idea to me as an eighteen year old but now I think they're so important. You may be a bundle of nerves to begin with (especially if you get bad anxiety having to eat in front of strangers like I do!) but it gets easier and most importantly, it becomes enjoyable. Sitting in a coffee shop with a good book for an hour, going shopping alone and trying lots of new clothes on, taking a look around the local art gallery or museum or simply going for a long walk or hike, it all makes me feel fantastic and makes me feel more comfortable with myself. Lots of people struggle with spending time alone but I personally thrive in those conditions. Even if you do struggle with it, doing it now and again can give you space to think with just "me myself and I" to consider which can be a breath of fresh air when you have stuff on your mind.

- Treat yo'self. Okay so this one will sound pretty obvious and it's something pretty much all of us do (some of us - I mean myself - do this a little too often) but treating yourself can be a great positive mood changer and can also make us feel sassy af when we do it. When you're in a relationship, you tend to want to show the other person you care about them and love them in numerous ways and sometimes that will involve extravagant gifts or small tokens of appreciation. Showing that level of care and consideration for yourself is vital. Often people put others first and put treating themselves on the back burner on the priority list but sometimes it should be top of that list. If you've worked your butt off all month, buy that book you've been desperate to read. If you've being feel really insecure about your body, buy that pair of shoes you saw in the sale. You don't always need an excuse to do it and it doesn't need to be so frequent that you don't treat it as a surprise thing any more, but treating yourself how you treat others will always be a sure-fire way to show yourself a bit of self love and appreciation.

- Get to know your body and love your body. If you're someone with low confidence and self esteem, the whole event of having sex with someone or being remotely romantically involved with another person can be daunting and become a huge big debacle. Learning to know what you like and what you don't like is not only a bonus for any sexual relationships you have in the future, but it can also make you feel a little bit more confident in yourself. You know what your limits are. You know what your kinks are. And mostly importantly, you will know yourself on the most intimate level. You need to be your own best friend and looking after yourself on an intimate level is a great way to start. Being sexually active should never be something anyone should be ashamed or embarrassed about and being happy with yourself in those instances can be very rewarding for the mind. Plus let's face it, orgasms are *great* for a mood boost and to get rid of those pesky headaches.

- Take all the selfies you want. I am an individual who is so pro-selfie it hurts. Seeing any one of you upload a photo on Instagram or Twitter when you're *feeling myself* makes me tap that heart icon quicker than I can say "work it, buddy". Of course we all have days when what we see in the mirror is just not floating our boats and unfortunately that feeling is more frequent for some of us more than others but the important thing is to document when we're not feeling like that. I vote you take all the selfies. You take them and you keep them somewhere on your phone or your iPad or your laptop... Just keep them so you can go back to them. Hell, print them out into hard paper copies and stick them around your mirror. Take photos of the parts of you you like. Your eyes, the shape of your nose, your hands; whatever it is, work it. Be proud of it. Spend time in the morning really looking at yourself. I know a lot of us plonk ourselves down every morning in front of the mirror for at least half an hour whilst we do our hair and paint our faces for the day but how often do you really pay attention to your face? To your body? I used to spend as little time as possible looking at my body/face in the mirror unless it was to apply my makeup but now I make a conscious effort to have a good hard look at what my mama gave me. Sure, because of it, I now know what I definitely see as my body hang ups but strangely it's made me feel kind of okay with them. It's like I'm in control of them and therefore they're no longer a worry. I don't worry so much about another person thinking "wow her tummy is looking bigger than normal" or "she really needs braces" because I've accepted those flaws and thought "yeah I'd like to change them over time but they're *my* hang ups and therefore *my* concern not yours". I no longer see them as setbacks I need to hide but I wear them all with pride because as cliché as it is to say, no one is perfect.

(Photos of me: Grime and Glamour)

I could carry on prattling on about self-love until the cows come home, but all I really wanted to say is that we should all have the capability and comfort to be independent and love ourselves and not rely on others to fill that void. Sure, it's an amazing feeling to know someone else finds you funny, intelligent, attractive, and wants to treat you well, but if you don't treat yourself well to begin with, you're not setting much of a bar for another person to meet and exceed. Toxic relationships, mental health, and the media amongst a million other things can make self-love a bit of a rollercoaster ride to try and tame, but I find if you get into a routine of dating yourself, you get into a routine of treating yourself how you'd like a potential someone else to treat you in your future, then you are setting yourself up for success no matter what. When I was a teenager, I had a best friend who once said to me "you need to love yourself. The person who will spend the rest of their life with you is you no matter what so you need to be happy with yourself and be your own best friend" and despite the fact that we had happily drank our way through a bottle of vodka and were lying in a field in the hot summer sun, I've held onto that piece of wisdom and will always vow to follow through with it in my day to day life.

So Amyleigh, here's to many more future dates full of humour, love, confidence building, and improving yourself, always.

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