Edit: this post took me almost the entirety of Lent to write! As you read through it (it’s rather long!), you’ll see why.
When I was reading Jameela Jamil’s Company column about self-criticism and Lent, I got to thinking about how hard we women are on each other and ourselves. Jameela is giving up self-doubt and self-criticism for 40 days, so I figured if she could do that, I could list 40 things I like about myself. And I encourage you all to big up yourselves too! Give it a go.
1. I have thick hair. Sure, I’m pulling out the odd grey one, but there’s a lot of it there! Hopefully I won’t be one of those old ladies who has to go out in sun hats because their hair has gone as thin as their husband’s…
2. I’m curvy. That’s right, I’m embracing my figure. It’s a bit on the squidgy side at the mo, but most of the time I like it!
3. I’m passionate. And I don’t just mean in my relationships, I mean when I set my mind to something I really focus on it and see it through to the end – even if it’s sticking with a television series which has seen better days!
4. Which leads me to my optimism. I’m a firm believer that things can only get better, so whereas the boyfriend has given up on the latest series of Castle, I’m still hanging in there in the hope that it returns to its glory days. Plus whenever I reach a lowpoint, I’m reminded of the WakeyWakey lyrics: ‘it feels bad now but it’s gonna get better.’
5. I’m honest. Almost to a fault but it’s something I’m proud of. When someone asks me a question I don’t feel particularly comfortable answering, rather than going automatically into ‘lie mode’, I’ll just say I don’t want to answer the question, if I don’t give a flat-out honest answer. My mum says I need to engage my brain before I speak, so it may not necessarily be my choice to act this way.
6. I got a First in my degree! I’m especially proud of that one. I worked my ass off so it’s proof that hard work really does pay off in the end. It just doesn’t necessarily feel like it when you’re slaving away on another assignment way into the night.
7. And on the subject of education, I’m actually using my degree in my day job. Very few people I studied with are in that position and I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given.
8. I’m starting to struggle a bit now. Isn’t it sad that we tend to start with our looks and move onto our careers, like those are the things that define us… Anyhoo… I like my dimples. Apparently I got them from my Grandad who I never met.
9. I’m a hugger! Everyone loves a hugger.
10. I’m handy during a film round in a pub quiz. But look out if I get a question wrong!
11. If a friend needs me, I’m always there.
12. I make awesome oat and raisin cookies – recipe from Domestic Sluttery.
13. I live in beautiful Cornwall. That’s more something I like about my life than myself, but it counts
14. I’m not ashamed to admit that I love Taylor Swift. Why should we hide our ‘guilty pleasures‘? Embrace the things you love!
At this point I really started to struggle and took to the web to ask other bloggers if they can list just five things they like about themselves. They came up with the following:
Ambitious, I love my hunger for learning new skills, I love the length of my hair right now, and I love my creativity – it brings me a lot of joy!
Yazmin Vigus, aliljoy
I love the natural shape of my eyebrows, my handwriting, my ability to mix a mean cosmopolitan and my work (helping others become the best version of themselves!)
Zoe McCarthy, Mascara for the Mind
My sense of humor, critical thinking, hair, open mindedness, and navigational abilities.
Erin Alicia, aliljoy
I love my legs, my drive to do anything I want, my positivity, the way I can laugh my way out of most situations and how easily I tan as soon as the sun comes out.
Lauren Williams, The Enjoyable Rut
So, with that inspiration, I added the following:
15. My ambition. Despite countless knockbacks and failures, I do believe that one day I’ll be able to make a living from writing if I continue to work hard and seize opportunities.
16. My determination: I’m not great at baking. I have a couple of go-to recipes (oat and raisin cookies and apple and cinnamon flapjack) but my cookies tend to spread out and turn into an epic tray bake and my cakes rarely rise. Despite this, I keep trying and keep learning from my mistakes.
17. Speaking of which: I don’t dwell on ‘mistakes‘ or ‘regrets’. I learn from them and move on.
18. And I’m willing to take a chance on something and see if it works out rather than never trying and always wondering. Granted it took me two years to finally make a move on my boyfriend… But, hey, it paid off!
I’m not even halfway! I just asked the boyfriend to describe me in five words, hoping for more inspiration. I told him it wasn’t a trick question and that it’s to help with a blog post. After asking if he’s the topic of said blog post, I explained that for the last two weeks I’ve been trying to list 40 things that I like about myself and I’ve only got 18. He claimed I have self-esteem issues. I don’t think so. I’m pretty good at bigging myself up when I do something well. In fact, I had a pretty eventful day at work, which could prompt a couple more entries to this list…
19. I can’t do things half-heartedly – I always work to the best of my ability. I either have to jump straight in and go at something full pelt or not at all.
20. I have pretty mad social media skills. In my last performance review I was told that I have improved student engagement ‘tremendously’ and my role is ‘pivotal’ to the organisation. And as a result of hearing about the live tweeting I do for work, someone came into the office today and asked if I’d do some freelance work for some future events. Winner!
And we’ve finally hit the halfway mark! Woooooo! It’s smooth sailing from here, right?
21. I have great taste in men! My boyfriend is one of the best things in my life (I don’t want to give him a big head by saying he’s The Best) and I love that I have fallen for a guy who treats me well, makes me laugh and is a great listener.
OK, I’ve just taken to Twitter and hit up a few of the blogger communities I follow and have had an overwhelming response! Thank you all so much! When I started this post I was surprised at how hard it was just to list a dozen and when asking other lovely ladies to list five and seeing them struggle to think of something, I was sad to think that this isn’t something that comes easily to us. And so, at the risk of making this post longer than my dissertation, I want to individually thank every one of you who took the time to respond and celebrate the things that you love about yourself. Thank you. You’re all incredible and I hope that we can all take something from this and realise just how bloody amazing we are! Here are the amazing responses I had in the first 24 hours:
My eyes, my sense of humour, my determination, my risk-taking and my creativity. That was hard to think of!
Pearl Sanguine, Procrastinator General Says
My imagination, my language skills, my passion for music, my hair and my constant mental health/headology progress.
Marie, Dance the Drizzle
I like my legs, my humour, my fieriness, my honesty and my loyalty. Brilliant idea, women empowerment. Ladies, love yourselves!
Delilah Sampson, Dangerously Delilah
Sense of humour, finger nails, hair, tenacity, joyous attitude
Sarah Chong, Sarah Chong
This is hard! Erm… Empathic nature, strength, sense of humour, my long-term/visual memory, my eyes
Hel Jones, Filly on Film
My smile, my charisma & positive energy, my witty, yet fun loving personality, my desire to want to know more about the world around me, my ‘can-do’ spirit, and relentlessness.
Chasity Cooper, Chasity Cooper
This sounds like such a great idea to promote loving yourself, hence why I wanted to take part. Whereas I love my body I also wanted to include a few things that I love about myself that don’t include my physical appearance. I love my hair, my confidence, my optimism, my strength, my eyes.
The confidence to take the leap to move from a small suburb to New York City in pursuit of career aspirations and dreams. My thirst for Music in general – all genres, all artists, all sounds. No artist is immune, my ears give everyone a chance. The ability to see the bright side in all situations – or at least the knowledge that I should be thinking optimistically at all times, even when it seems impossible. My curly hair (most days). The people I surround myself with – family & friends, because they make me want to strive to be a better version of me.
LeAnna Christiansen, Melismatic
My lips – great for a red lip! My legs – even if their length can be annoying at times. My brain – Hey, it’s served me well! My ability to write – I may not be the best writer out there, but I love doing it and every now and then, I write something I like! My strength – Things haven’t always been easy, but I’m still here. That was harder than I thought it would be!
Kelly Schweizer, Northern Roots
I have a Master’s Degree in Physical Education – I taught 9th grade PE. I love that I have muscles ie. Quads and a butt, NO THIGH GAP HERE!! I have a sense of humor thanks to my two brothers. I love that I can have long straight hair or shorter crazy curly hair. I love the way my heart feels joy and sadness with those I love.
Taylor Walker, Taylor Walker Fit
I like the fact that I am fluent in three languages. I like that even through struggles I manage to keep myself positive. I like that I have thick hair and that it grows fast – meaning I can cut it anytime lol without worries. I like that I don’t let people step on me, whenever I have to speak up – I do it – I stand up in a nice manner though not in a rude way :) I like that I am polite because nowadays there are a lot of rude/disrespectful/undisciplined people out there and I admire that I always say thank you, sorry, excuse me, and I just always try to be respectful of others :)
Maya Maslova, Maya Maslova
I look so good in hats. I don’t wear them a lot because it wouldn’t be fair on the universe, but maaaaaaaan when I do… I can make people laugh, as I have a way with words. I don’t give up easily – on people, on life, on work, on lightbulbs that just plain DON’T want to come out of their sockets. I survived. I am happy with my life and don’t feel guilty about it. (I’m Irish catholic – this is the first time this has happened to our people).
Sinead Hanna, The Demon Gin
My height! 5ft10 and loving it after hating it throughout my teens. My nails beds are very deep so my nails look long and healthy even when short. My creative flow and ability to make something out of nothing. My eyelashes are naturally very long & curly (thank god). My crazy level of organising.
Natalie Carvell, It’s NMC
My long hair. How I do gymnastics & am fairly good at it. My blue eyes. My long eyelashes. My flexibility.
Jasmine Creer, Blogged to Perfection
I love accents, and insist on marrying a Brit! My hair!!! My grey eyes. My ability to wear glasses well! I am strong, and I am blessed with such a big heart for others!
That’s harder than it sounds! Probably my strong opinions, teeth, hair and ability to walk in high heels!
Lucy Abigail, Lucy Abigail
My impeccable taste in socks, pro ability to colour inside the lines, my creativity, that I can make people laugh and my freckles.
Kara Vallens, Kara Vallens
The colour of my hair – call it red, call it ginger, call it auburn, whatever, I love it! My laugh. When I get going, there’s no stopping me. I like my liberty and the fact I’ll try anything once! I can always see a silver lining. I make fab roast potatoes!
Hollie, Pretty Big Butterflies
With that inspiration, how could I not manage to reach 40?! Here goes…
22. My ability to use sarcasm as a defence mechanism, a la Chandler Bing!
23. My creativity. I was in my element yesterday when I was able to play with Post-its and coloured pens for a project at work!
24. My imagination. It runs away from me a little bit but at least I am able to picture different solutions when faced with a challenge.
25. I have been anti-depressant free for one year! Winner!
26. I am fiercely loyal, even when people might not deserve it. I give them the benefit of the doubt once but fool me twice…!
27. I’m empathetic…
28. … and approachable. I’m the person you feel sorry for on public transport because someone odd always tries to strike up a conversation. And I can’t be rude because…
29. … I’m eager to please! Sometimes this can come across as needy but I like knowing that I have the ability to make someone’s day a bit better. It doesn’t cost anything to be polite.
30. I wear my heart on my sleeve…
31. … and I’m quite upfront. What you see is what you get and I make no apologies for that!
32. I’m incredibly organised. Sometimes anally so. We have about 1000 DVDs and they are organised alphabetically in three groups – TV, bluray and standard definition. And it was so hard deciding what to do with bluray TV boxsets! They’re in the TV section but now I’m not so sure…
So after your incredible responses I’ve come up with a further 11 nice and easily! Eight to go – let’s do this!
33. I have green fingers. Well, I would if I didn’t wear gardening gloves. Or watch my mum look after my garden! But the thought is there. I can’t wait to have a huge garden one day and grow my own properly.
34. I’m a proud feminist. I genuinely don’t see how anyone can’t be – who doesn’t believe in gender equality?!
35. I’m a complete and utter dork!
36. I’m a paper junkie. I like that I refuse to buy a Kindle, I still have half a dozen print magazine subscriptions and like to use pen and paper. Some might say I’m living in the dark ages but you can’t beat the smell of a new book, flicking through a magazine on a lazy Sunday or receiving a hand-written letter.
37. I’m a dreamer.
38. I want to (and will) have it all: mother, wife, successful, happy…
39. I wouldn’t dare claim to be a good cook but I make a mean sausage and mash! It’s all in the red onion gravy…
40. And we’re finally here! The last one! It turns out that I have the ability to inspire others! I really enjoyed reading your responses to my Twitter requests and it was so rewarding to see so many of you say that you hope that it will empower others. Here’s hoping!
If you’ve been inspired by this post, please leave your list of five things you like about yourself in the comments. And remember to stop being so hard on yourself! Next time you’re feeling a bit shit, challenge yourself to list five things you like about yourself and I guarantee you’ll soon feel a bit better!