Even when times get tough, when your self-esteem hits rock bottom and you feel completely helpless, you need to learn, no matter what, to love who you can be. Obviously, you can’t love the person you see in the mirror at that time, because you probably made countless mistakes leading up to that moment. But pause and think to yourself what you can still do with your life. You have the potential to do almost anything these days. Case in point, in 2012, a blind person won MasterChef (Christine Ha is the best!). So long as you buckle down and focus on what it is that you are trying to achieve, you can do it.
Start small. The qualities you want. Do you want to be outspoken, independent, funny, smart? Zero in on those first. Then figure out how it is that you want to get there. Studying, exercising, interacting with people, etc. Once you know what you want for yourself, make the steps towards being that person who you want to be.
Next, think about your environment. The people you surround yourself with, the daily routines you have set for yourself, and the physical environment itself. You can cut out any of the first two categories that you feel are not good for you. Having supportive friends and good habits is key to growing as a person. Bad habits are mistakes that are repeated. Make the effort to stop yourself from having those. It can be hard, and at times, impossible to notice while you are doing it, so take time to step away from your life and reflect on which friendships and routines you feel actually benefit you and genuinely make you happy without detracting from your own life.
The next step is doing the things you love. This would probably be the hardest step in loving yourself. Some goals are easier to reach than others. For example, doing more charity work, that’s a lot more doable than becoming a doctor. Regardless of what it is you want to do, don’t give up. Keep fighting for what it is you want to do. Because once you get to that point, you can really look in the mirror again, see that growth, and realize just how far along you have come since that point. You can love yourself, and live for you.