how to live (with yourself)


Freedom. Everyone’s definition of freedom is different. For someone it might mean powering those electronic devices down and enjoying a warm walk with friends at sunset. Or maybe it’s finally having time to turn that poem you carry around on a stained napkin into a full-length song. Maybe it’s getting in a car with your favorite tunes and just driving. Maybe it’s treating yourself to that cheesecake you’ve been craving. Or maybe it’s doing yoga with your bunny. 

In reality, freedom can be a very beautiful thing to have. However, due to the unpredictable nature of life we don’t always have the opportunity to free ourselves from, well, reality. But I am not here to tell you whether or not you should take that trip to SXSW that you’ve always dreamed of (which, you totally should). I’m here to tell you that there is a different kind of freedom that every person- every woman-desperately needs. That is, my beautiful buffaloes, freedom from yourself. 

Yes, you read right. In every woman’s head is a tiny voice that can spew some pretty unimaginable insults. It does not matter where you are or what you are doing, that voice comes at you unexpectedly. And it seeks to destroy. It may appear while you are about to go into a job interview. Suddenly you don’t feel prepared and are doubting yourself. “I am never going to get this. I’m not qualified. I do not have enough experience,” your little voice says. The most common place this voice appears in is in front of the mirror. I have a friend that used to purposely avoid mirrors because she did not want to ‘be reminded of how much beauty she lacked.’  I am guilty of it, too. Just last week, I did not attend an event because I “looked disgusting.” Why do we listen to this voice in our head that only says the worst about us? Why do we seek perfection in ourselves when we know that we are only human? The answers to these questions vary. But instead of focusing on why, let us stop this cycle of self-loathing. 

It’s time to free ourselves from that harsh voice. Here are a few tips on how to do that:

1. Meditate

Go to a quiet space, and reflect on the things that you do have. The mere ability to wake up is a blessing! 

2. Make a List

List all of the things you love about yourself and your life. There’s no length requirement or limit. Make it on a post-it, and leave it on your fridge or blow it up into a poster and hang it up over your bed. Keep it as a daily reminder of who you are and why that’s more than good enough!

3. Go Outside

Sometimes all we need is some fresh air and nature to remind us of how vast and beautiful this world is. There is no place for our insecurities in this universe full of possibilities. 

4. Listen to some music. 

Sometimes hearing “Girls! We run the world” over and over is the exact motivation you need to, well, run the world. Whether you are singing along to Beyoncé, Lykke Li, the local radio station, or writing your own tunes remember to do it at the top of your lungs.

5. Stop comparing.

Ladies, I cannot stress this enough. Just be YOU. Do not compare yourself to others. Make your own success. Make your own happiness. You didn’t get the job you wanted? So what! There are bigger things out there for you. Keep searching. You don’t have as many followers as your new BFF? Remember, it’s not about quantity but quality. You’ll get there, I promise. Do not spend all of your energy loathing yourself because it will lead to nothing. For example, I could sit in my room all day browsing through the Instagram feeds of photographers with way more experience than me and cry. But at the end of the day I will have only wasted time. Instead, I could go out on my balcony and practice my skills by photographing the trees, birds, or even my shoes. At the end of the day, I will have learned something new and have better photos to add to my own feed. 

So whaddya say, buffaloes? The bad days and thoughts will come, but we can do this! Free yourself from your past, from your critics, from that little voice of doubt in your head. Be human. Be happy. Be you. 

Words and Photos by Janai Cantua Villarreal