On Self-Esteem and Self-Love

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

It’s always so easy to say “love yourself” and also “love others“. It’s our favorite thing to preach.

I’m probably not the only one struggling with either.

But through this blog and through the people I meet everyday, I think I’m a little bit closer to living in a world filled with love. There are moments when it would be so easy to be indifferent, but then I see one act of kindness and it makes living and loving all worthwhile again. And I’m happy to have this blog to record my memories.

February 14 was a whole day filled with love and kindness from my batch, trans group mates, bio girls and the whole ASMPH community. Even though it’s a tough day for the Infectious Diseases module, I was in high spirits the whole time.

Thank you to the 2021 boys for such wonderful surprises. Thank you as well to all the teachers and staff that went along our non-academic shenanigans. And thank you even more to the 2021 girls for being so competitive. We win this year. (But love is not a competition).

YL7 (above) from YL5 (below). More than two years of conversations, food, laughter and stress. And beautifully yellow flowers. I love you.
I remember writing about my trans group way back in 2016. It was love at first sight. Through the years, we haven’t spent as much time together as other groups have, but it doesn’t matter. Cute pa rin tayo.

You could have given me a one-liner note and I would have still been happy to receive it. Surprises don’t need to be big or expensive or ostentatious. I think it’s the little things each day that add up to love. I know I always get kilig when someone greets me ‘good morning’ or ‘have you eaten?’ out of the blue.

Maybe that’s what I want to say. Doing a single act of kindness each day –passing on a compliment to someone else, asking about a person’s day, laughing a little harder at a joke– is an infinite act of love.

I had the opportunity to pass it on. Last February 13, I gave a talk on love, beauty and self-esteem at a seminar hosted by a Grade 12 Humanities and Social Sciences class from Polytechnic University of the Philippines. ‘Sefiesteem: Breaking Society’s Beauty Standards – Separating Myth from Reality‘ was a privilege to attend.

I received the invitation to speak only last weekend, maybe three or four days before the event itself. I’ve never had to come up with a presentation deck so quickly. Isn’t my title slide pretty?

I feel very passionately about self-confidence and self-love. I’ve struggled with so many insecurities. At the same time, I’ve mastered the skill of projecting confidence and pride. It’s easy to ignore the loneliness (my greatest enemy) while I enjoy the independence; and then some days the waterworks come rushing out.

But I’ve realized that a lot of the things pulling us down come from arbitrary and often malicious standards. Who said this is what beauty has to look like? Why should I care what others think? What do you mean I can’t do this or that?

When I say an act of kindness leads to love, I mean it. And sometimes –or most of the time– the person you need to be kindest to is yourself. In my session I talked through reasons why you shouldn’t blame or hate yourself, challenges to give and accept compliments and love, and ways to fake confidence until you become confident.

With the fun and boisterous crowd in PUP. Gen Z, as expected, was mature and self-aware. I couldn’t think of a better way to cap off my psych module experience.

Always say thank you. Always show appreciation. I want us to be a part of a culture of affirmation, not a culture of isolation. And I want us to live it everyday (not just Valentine’s!).

If I can help others –especially adolescents and fellow young adults– break the negative cycles that make up depression and low self-esteem, I can count myself on the right path towards stronger health advocacy. Mental health is health.

Thank you so much for the gifts and the plaque of recognition! That was totally surprising and also unnecessary haha. The one in red is Romeo, a fellow speaker, and also a great BTS-loving friend whom I miss.
Congratulations to the organizers! It was a great and successful event. I can’t believe many of you were born after 2000. WILD. Also, I still don’t understand K to 12.
Talk to me about self-love and self-esteem! Breaking standards and uplifting the world starts with you.

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