Dear Elle: Where the hell have you been?

Q: Dear Elle, Where the hell have you been?? 

Hi my dears, so sorry for the brief intermission. Though this may come as a surprise, I am in fact a student at F&M who sometimes forgets that classes are unreasonably difficult and that the world does not stop turning, even if you are drowning in finals. That being said, I am back and (slightly) better than ever, so hit me with your questions, people. I’m all ears. 

Yours,

Elle

Q: Any insight on happiness & working on building up self-worth? I’ve come to realize that I don’t know why I’m doing the things I’m doing and that I (subconsciously) think the things I do/say don’t matter to others. How do you suggest I could work on building up happiness and my self-worth? Thank you, Elle!

Oh my, does this question resonate! Building self-worth, and in turn happiness. I’d like to say first that happiness and self-worth are not one-in-the-same, but I sense you’re trying to tell me that your lack of self-worth is affecting your happiness. In which case, I’ll preface with this: before I give you advice, do not expect happiness to click as soon as you start treating yourself well. Asking yourself to improve happiness will just keep you questioning if you really are happy. It might sound too simple, but happiness comes and goes. Just roll with the punches and I promise you’ll find yourself breathing on the other side.

But enough with the semantics. As I’m sitting here braless and drinking coffee, all I can think to myself is Elle, how the fuck can you give this type of advice if you’re missing the self-worth gene too?? I don’t know that I can. But I can say that I understand. Oh baby, do I understand. And since I do, maybe a self-absorbed story will do the trick.

Every day, I wake up, down three coffees, socialize, eat my meals, run my mouth, procrastinate, attempt to finish some kind of assignment at an ungodly hour, and then I go to sleep. In other words, I live. And a few months ago, as I struggled to figure out why anything I did mattered—how the good grades were just luck, the compliments were just lies, and the accomplishments were just coincidence—my therapist reminded me that I was alive. And living, waking up and getting through a day, walking around, even just getting up to fill my water bottle? These are all important and, quite honestly, impressive accomplishments. Because living? That shit is hard. And yet we all do it. Even if one day it’s watching Netflix all day and the next it’s writing an essay.  

Now, I know this might sound like an extreme thing to acknowledge. You’re probably thinking, Elle, of course I know I’m alive, but it’s not that deep. Maybe you expected me to suggest a gratitude journal and some meditation, which are both great practices. But sometimes starting at the core, at crediting yourself for just existing, can mean a lot more to your self-worth than you’d expect. It’s just a start. There is no equation for self-worth and happiness—not even the psychologists have that locked down yet. But I don’t know. Standing up, staring at yourself in the mirror, and saying “Wow, I’m alive”—that seems like a pretty good place to begin.

Yours,

Elle

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