By Samantha Ushedo
You know that girl who seems to “have it all” – the amazing career, tons of friends, the perfect boyfriend, the toned body, and an awesome wardrobe to match?
I was that girl.
A modern-day Wonder Woman, if you will.
All throughout my life, I was the girl who had it all together. I set goals and I consistently demolished them. When I set my mind to something, I made it happen. People were constantly asking me, “Sam, how do you do it?” and to them I would reply, “I’m a bit of an over-achiever”.
And yet, despite having all the ingredients of success, I was neither happy nor fulfilled. I was burning the candle at both ends in my pursuit to happiness and looking for fulfillment in all the wrong places. My measure of happiness and success was determined by how much money I made, whether I had a boyfriend, how many friends I had and how I looked.
From the outside, it looked like I “had it all”. On the inside, I was miserable.
Where were the happiness and worthiness I thought all my goals and achievements would deliver? I realized I could no longer live like this, so one day, I got fed up. I broke up with my boyfriend, moved apartments, changed jobs and enrolled in nutrition school. Everything was finally starting to fall in to place. And then slowly but surely, the misery started to creep back in. And with it, cystic acne that not only covered my entire face and neck, but also my chest and back.
It was like the Universe was saying to me “you’re not meant to be doing this anymore sweetheart and unfortunately, the only way you will listen is if we send you a message you can’t ignore”.
Message received. Loud and clear.
I can acutely remember the nights I cried myself to sleep wishing desperately to wake up and find out that my skin woes were nothing but a horrible nightmare.
Or the uncontrollable anger I felt when perfect strangers would stop me on the street to offer unsolicited advice on how I should eat, live and cleanse my body in order to cure my condition.
And the incredible shame I felt when I would tell people that I was a nutritionist and yet I looked anything but the picture of health and vitality. I mean, who would ever take health advice from someone who looked like me?
I was desperate to “fix” myself. Doctors, naturopaths, supplements, detoxes, diets, psychotherapists, self-help books, yoga, mediation – you name it, I tried it. And each time I’d try something new and it didn’t work, I’d beat myself up for not being good enough, smart enough, or working hard enough.
It took 5 years, a debilitating skin condition and almost $30,000 (yes, I totalled it up) trying to fix myself, to find that external something that would solve all my problems before I realized that everything I was doing was simply treating a symptom of a bigger issue, which was that I didn’t love or fundamentally accept myself. I was living my life based on the need for outside validation, approval, and affection. Every choice I made in my life was coming from a place of fear, rather than love.
Fear of failure. Fear of judgment. Fear of not being loved.
My experience taught me that we can exhaust ourselves trying to change our external circumstances to achieve some external results, but at the end of the day, if you don’t go within, you go without. When we learn to flex our self-love muscles and choose love for yourself over fear, that is when the true healing begins.
You may not have cystic acne like I did, for you it could be something different entirely. But I want you to think about that thing in your life that is constantly plaguing you, looming over you like a big, black cloud. That thing you’re struggling with, that is keeping you stuck and unhappy. And if I can impress one thing upon you today, let it be this: the first and sometimes only step you need to find the success, happiness and fulfillment (in any area of life) that you seek begins with first loving yourself.
I learned the hard way that no one does it all. We each, if we’re lucky, will have our chance to leave our mark on the world Rather than trying to emulate Wonder Woman, focus on what’s wonderful about you instead. Have the courage to accept yourself exactly as you are and believe that you are worthy regardless of what you have, do or become. You are worthy right now.
Just like you would join a gym or hire a trainer to strengthen your physical muscles, you can exercise your self-love muscle in much the same way. Through practice, commitment and consistency. When you become aware of the way you relate to yourself, learn to cultivate self-compassion and take action on doing the things that truly light you up inside, you are laying the foundation to develop a beautiful relationship with the most important person in your life…yourself.
I invite you to go boldly, audaciously, and joyfully in the direction of love. Because if you want to soar in health, in love and in life, you must first learn to FLY. First Love Yourself.