I’ll admit it: If self-hate were an Olympics, there were periods in my life I would’ve won Platinum, if that was an available medal.
I’m serious. When I was a kid, I hated myself because I was the only Asian in a 500-person class. I hated my slanted eyes, my bubble nose, and my black-as-night hair (why did all of the heroines in the 1990s have blonde hair?!).
When I was a teenager, I hated myself because I was so goddamn ambitious. I didn’t “get” just hanging out or acting cool. I wanted to make something of myself, and the only way I knew how was to take every AP class known to man and to be a major nerd.
When I was in my twenties, I hated myself because I didn’t fit into the “doctor” mold. Here I was, in a top-tier medical school after years of studying and sacrificing, and I hated it. I realized I didn’t even like hospitals and contracted serious viral infections all the damn time.
I tried reading the self-help books. I consulted a therapist. I bought the right clothes and acted certain ways and tried to say only the appropriate things at the appropriate times.
And then I got to a point, finally, after years of trying, where I finally got it:
THE ONLY APPROVAL YOU NEED IS YOUR OWN SELF-APPROVAL.
Boom. Like, whoa.
It doesn’t matter that I have Kanye West on a playlist with Whitney Houston. It doesn’t matter that I save up for handbags that cost a month’s rent. It doesn’t matter that I dance in the car and embarrass my friends. It doesn’t matter that I eat like a pig on days I’m ravenous and barely eat on days when I’m not.
The only approval I need is my own. And once I got in touch with that, I’m a lot healthier. I don’t try to impress people or fit into a certain mold as much anymore. And while some situations still inevitably fill me with social dread, at the end of the day, I know how to take care of myself, how to nurture myself, and how to make myself feel whole again.
The most important relationship, indeed.